When a key work by a major playwright hasn't been staged here for 20 years or more, there's a reason. With August Strindberg's The Dance of Death, Andrew Paul says it's largely because most translations and stagings mistook this 1900 dark comedy about a brutal marriage for a straight drama. Strindberg's grim Swedish humor is easily lost — except maybe when filtered through the mordant Irish humor of Conor McPherson, whose new adaptation gets its Pittsburgh premiere from Paul's Kinetic Theatre.
Local stage standouts Helena Ruoti and Sam Tsoutsouvas play the wittily vicious, long-married couple: Alice, a former stage star, and her husband, Edgar, a military man, who live in a former prison on a remote island. Mark Staley also stars. A 2012 London production of McPherson's adaptation (which drops part two of Strindberg's original two-part play) was critically acclaimed, and the work's U.S. premiere, at Chicago's Writer's Theatre, was an award-winner.
Paul, who directs, is among those who say that Dance of Death prefigures the absurdist dark comedies of Beckett and Ionesco (not to mention Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?). Audiences here can really see for themselves: At the New Hazlett Theater, 60 seats (about half the total) will be right onstage, for intimacy. April 17-May 3. 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $20-35 (April 27 performance is pay-what-you-can). 888-718-4253 or www.kinetictheatre.org
If you liked Teagle F. Bougere last season as The Poet in Pittsburgh Public Theater's production of the one-man show An Iliad — and most everyone who saw it did — here's your chance to see him in Othello. The Public's Ted Pappas directs Shakespeare's tragedy, with Bougere as the Moor; Broadway actor Jeremy Kushnier, in his Public debut, as Iago; and Amanda Lee Cobb (from the Public's Private Lives) as Desdemona. April 16-May 17. 621 Penn Ave., Downtown. $15.75-62. 412-316-1600 or www.ppt.org
The Old South and the New, plantation and factory, past and present, illusion and reality, hidden scandals and shattered dreams — plays don't get much more lyrically American than A Streetcar Named Desire. Tennessee Williams' 1947 classic about Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski in New Orleans gets a new production from Point Park University's Conservatory Theatre Company. Local stage veteran Martin Giles directs the student cast. April 16-26. Pittsburgh Playhouse, 222 Craft Ave., Oakland. $18-20. 412-392-8000 or www.pittsburghplayhouse.com