ART is smart. It’s also funny as hell, which makes braving the Gaslamp traffic to see this urbane one-act comedy well worth the effort. The play by Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hamptom and directed by Christy Yael-Cox, is the inaugural production in Intrepid Theatre Co.’s seventh season, its first as permanent resident of the Horton Grand Theatre. Yael-Cox, a truly gifted director, has a literate, witty script and three indefatigable actors (Daren Scott, Jason Heil, Jacob Bruce) to work with.
When the pseudo-intellectual Serge (Heil) brings home a monochromatic (that’s being kind) painting that he paid 200 grand for, he unwittingly (well, maybe not) ignites a series of combustible conversations, some of which even turn physical, between himself and his best friends Marc (Scott) and Yvan (Bruce). All three guys’ posturing, neuroses and insecurities come to the fore in delightfully shuddering put-downs, wisecracks and gamesmanship. The actors’ grimaces and expressions of affront and self-righteousness add to the thorough hilarity, which never lapses into silliness.
ART is one of those rare plays you just might go see a second time.
ART runs through Nov. 6 at the Horton Grand Theatre, downtown. $38-$58; intrepidtheatre.org
Benjamin Scheuer’s personal emotional catharsis is expressed less by the lyrics of his songs and the brief soliloquies in between them than by the way he plays one of the six guitars on stage with him. This is how Scheuer’s one-man show The Lion is best absorbed. Listen, and let the strumming, whether it be plaintive or incendiary, carry you where Scheuer wants to take you. The Lion traffics in the disconnect between father and son, Scheuer being the son. This in itself is a timeworn theme, though The Lion is an autobiographical story. In the long run, Scheuer’s solo show on the Old Globe’s Sheryl and Harvey White stage is more about his coming to terms with his father’s mortality by confronting his own. The lion metaphors are out of the bag early, and a few of the songs feel unfinished, but Scheuer’s commitment to sharing his painful lessons learned is undeniable.
The Lion runs through Oct. 30 at the Old Globe’s Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre. $29 and up. oldglobe.org
—David L. Coddon
Equivocation: A playwright named “Shagspeare” is forcibly commissioned by the King to write the definitive history of the Gunpowder Plot in Bill Cain’s acclaimed who-done-it. Directed by Deborah Gilmour Smyth, it opens Oct. 14 at the Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
God of Carnage: In Yasmina Reza’s comedy, two sets of parents tussle after their kids get into a playground fight. Directed by Jessica Bird, it opens in previews Oct. 14 at the New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org
Mulan Jr.: The kid-friendly musical based on the Disney movie about a young woman who poses as a boy to help fight the Huns. Presented by Patio Playhouse Youth Theatre, it opens Oct. 14 at the Patio Playhouse in Escondido. patioplayhouse.com
Something Inside is Broken: A Native American opera about the Nisenan tribe of Northern California. Presented by On Native Ground, it opens for two performances Oct. 14 at the Center Theatre at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. artcenter.org
El Cipitío: A dark comedy based on a novel about a three-foot El Salvadoran who eventually becomes the President of the U.S. Presented by Amigos del Rep, it happens Oct. 17 at the Lyceum Space in the Gaslamp. sdrep.org
The Year of Magical Thinking: A staged reading of the one-woman-show based on Joan Didion’s bestselling memoir about the sudden loss of her husband and daughter. Presented by Intrepid Theatre Company, it happens Oct. 17 at the Encinitas Library. intrepidtheatre.org
Laughter on the 23rd Floor: Neil Simon’s comedy about his early days in live television working with the likes of Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks. Directed by Tom Markus, it opens Oct. 19 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org