Hark! The holiday season begins. Blink and it will be Thanksgiving. Drink and it will be a new year. Between the requisite shopping, cooking, stressing and kvetching, be sure to make room in your schedule for some diversion. Upcoming local plays offer ample ways to delight and distract you. With any luck, a few tickets in, you’ll find yourself brimming with good cheer.
Bombs away at Brown University, as the undergrads take on The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Carson Kreitzer’s award-winning play follows the famous physicist from his development of nuclear weapons to his difficulty dealing with the aftermath. Spoiler alert: this can’t end well. November 3-6, 10-13. Stuart Theatre, 75 Waterman Street. 863-2838, Brown.edu/Tickets
Next, find the humor in election fervor with Elemental Theatre Collective’s Donald, Ted, and Marco. This original one-act by local playwright Dave Rabinow considers the question of how certain Republican presidential hopefuls might react if trapped in a pocket dimension. Under the direction of Casey Seymour Kim, a talented, all-female cast supplies the surprising answer. October 28-November 8. AS220’s Black Box, 95 Empire Street. 831-9327, AS220.org
Depending on how the election turns out, the idea of relocating to outer space could seem increasingly appealing. Embrace it with Counter-Productions Theatre Company’s riff on a retro sci-fi radio series, The Final Voyage of X Minus One, playing at AS220’s Black Box later in the month. November 11-20.
Remember when political leaders did the polka? Or, at least, when a handsome king of Siam did so once? Revisit that magical time with one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most beautiful musicals, The King and I. The National Tour of the Lincoln Center Theater production kicks off at PPAC, with Broadway stars Jose Llana and Laura Michelle Kelly in the leads. While some of its plot points have aged better than others, the show has the power to transport you just the same. October 30-November 6. Providence Performing Arts Center, 220 Weybosset Street. 421-2787, PPACRi.org
When the change of season lends itself to reflection, wind your way over to the Brown/Trinity M.F.A. Program’s presentation of The Winter’s Tale. Shakespeare’s haunting, dreamy story explores themes of death and rebirth, betrayal and forgiveness, loss and love – plus, there’s a bear! November 3-6. Pell Chafee Performance Center, 87 Empire Street. 351-4242, TrinityRep.com
If you think the family in The Winter’s Tale has problems, prepare yourself for the folks in Appropriate. Penned by contemporary playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, a 2016 MacArthur Fellow (think “Genius Grant”), Appropriate examines a Southern family with a terrible secret. The play nods to works by Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams while maintaining its own signature voice, wit and razor sharp focus. Now through November 6. Trinity Repertory Company, 201 Washington Street. 351-4242, TrinityRep.com
During times of seasonal stress, the urge to curse could be considered a reasonable response. But, do your loved ones a favor by attending a David Mamet play instead. Catch American Buffalo at the Gamm this month. Helmed by Trinity Rep’s associate artistic director Tyler Dobrowsky, the contemporary classic Buffalo stars Fred Sullivan, Jr., Tony Estrella and Marc Dante Mancini as three cussing crooks in a pawnshop, scheming to steal a rare coin. In the hands of such powerhouse actors, the profanity-laced script will soar – and the messages within it will sound clearly, too. November 17-December 18. Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre, 172 Exchange Street, Pawtucket. 723-4266, GammTheatre.org
If wrangling relatives starts to rankle, hightail it to the Wilbury Theatre Group’s production of Straight White Men. Watch and learn as a father and his three grown sons wrestle with race, identity, privilege, and each other in this provocative play by Young Jean Lee, directed by Vince Petronio. For a counterpoint, it’s playing in repertory with Di and Viv and Rose, a funny play by Amelia Bulmore, directed by Kate Kataja. In Di and Viv and Rose, the three female characters wrestle as well – primarily with the challenges of change and its effects on friendship. Expect to leave both shows with lots to discuss. November 17-December 24. 393 Broad Street. 400-7100, TheWilburyGroup.org
There. Feel better yet? Happy holidays.