JESUS HOPPED THE ‘A’ TRAIN (Signature Theatre)

Every year, I track all the major off-Broadway theatre company’s seasons to determine whose deserves to be crowned the best of, currently, 2017-2018. It’s still too early to declare a winner, but based on its three revivals this fall, the Signature Theatre looks like the odds-on favorites.

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MARCEL + THE ART OF LAUGHTER (Theatre for a New Audience)

Given the relatively newfound popularity of 90-minute plays, double-bills of one-acts have largely gone out of style. What hasn’t faded over hundreds of years of theatre history are works that mix farce and slapstick, with a plethora of self-aware winking thrown in.

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TOO HEAVY FOR YOUR POCKET (Roundabout Theatre Company)

Roundabout Underground’s production of Jiréh Breon Holder’s Too Heavy for Your Pocket is perfectly fine, but its across-the-board traditionalism runs contrary to the type of work ideally presented at the Roundabout Theatre Company’s black box space, especially in relation to what normally occupies this venerable institution’s other venues.

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If In the Blood – the other half of Suzan-Lori Parks’ Scarlet Letter-reduxes The Red Letter Plays, currently receiving sterling revivals courtesy of the Signature Theatre – targets modern-day judgements rooted in lingering puritanical influences on American society, Fucking A delves into contemporary taboos that conform to the United States’ long puritanical lineage.

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For students forced in high school to read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, this seminal novel about the restrictive confines of puritanical American society ultimately constitutes their least favorite assignment on the curriculum. Despite the salacious nature of a story that revolves around infidelity, Hawthorne’s archaically flowery language and snail-like pace usually bores even the most sex-obsessed, hormone-addled adolescents.

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