Slice of life
MEMORY HOUSE What is it about baking a pie that strikes such a visceral chord? There’s an exactness to the art
that playwright Kathleen Tolan transforms into a powerful metaphor in this dance of negotiation and connection between
a recently divorced mother and her teenage daughter. Crisply directed by Melia Bensussen. Pictured: Susan Pellegrino (left) and Rebecca Blumhagen. Through Nov. 18. Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell. 978-654-4678, www.mrt.org
44 PLAYS FOR 44 PRESIDENTS It’s American history on caffeine. With a nimble cast of five directed by Jeffrey Mosser, this kaleidoscopic show sketches rapid-fire portraits of every single commander in chief in about two hours. It often succeeds in capturing something essential about them, even as it cuts them down to size. Through Nov. 11. Bad Habit Productions. At Deane Rehearsal Hall, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.badhabitproductions.org
BENGAL TIGER AT THE BAGHDAD ZOO A tiger is pursued by existential questions through a restless afterlife, even as he haunts the US Marine who killed him. Meanwhile, an Iraqi translator must cope with the invading Americans’ arrogant treatment, the ghost of Uday Hussein, and his own wrenching guilt about a horrific prewar episode. Director Shawn LaCount and his fine cast illuminate playwright Rajiv Joseph’s bleak and unsettling vision, occasionally pierced by mordant humor. Through Nov. 17. Company One. At Plaza Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.companyone.org
BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON Rough, rude, fast, loud, and irreverent, this musical satire by Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman is to standard presidential biography as a punch in the nose is to afternoon tea. As portrayed with all-out gusto by Gus Curry, Old Hickory is driven by testosterone and an adolescent I’ll-show-’em ambition, not by any grand vision or abundance of smarts. A superb set by Eric Levenson creates a visual correlative to the frontier sensibility and vanity of the title character. Through Nov. 17. SpeakEasy Stage Company. At Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.speak
VOLTAIRE AND FREDERICK: A LIFE IN LETTERS A staged reading, featuring Thomas Derrah and John Kuntz, of Detlef Gericke-Schönhagen’s new play, which is built on the decades-long correspondence between the irreverent French author of “Candide’’ and Frederick the Great. Directed by Guy Ben-Aharon. Nov. 1. German Stage, Goethe-Institut Boston. At Adolphus Busch Hall, Harvard University. 617-496-2222, www.boxoffice.harvard.edu
THE CHOSEN Adapted by Aaron Posner and Chaim Potok from Potok’s 1967 novel, this play flashes back to 1940s Brooklyn, where two Jewish teenagers — Danny, who’s Hasidic, and Reuven, who’s not — become best friends and try to remain so as World War II ends, the enormity of the Holocaust is revealed, the new state of Israel emerges, and their fathers take opposite positions. The play is about growing up and overcoming differences, but it’s also about learning to listen, and this production encourages us to do just that. Through Nov. 17. Lyric Stage Company. 617-585-5678, www.lyricstage
RACE David Mamet’s 2009 law-office drama about a white man accused of raping a black woman doesn’t tell us much about racism, sexism, legal ethics, and flat-out anger that we didn’t already know, but it can be powerful in performance, as it is in this production directed by Robert Walsh, with convincing, naturalistic turns by Patrick Shea as the client, Ken Cheeseman and Cliff Odle as the legal partners, and Miranda Craigwell as the junior member of the firm who has her own ideas about the case. Though Nov. 4. New Repertory Theater. At Charles Mosesian Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown. 617-923-8487, www.newrep.org
MACBETH The virtues of this production include Jenna McFarland-Lord’s ghostly World War I-era set, director Paula Plum’s many imaginative conceits (like having the three witches double as nuns), and Allyn Burrows’s exuberant, man-against-fate depiction of the title character. Shakespeare done differently, and done very well. Through Nov. 4. Actors’ Shakespeare Project. At Chevalier Theatre, Medford. 866-811-4111, www.actorsshakespeareproject
UNCLE VANYA A revival of last winter’s production of Anton Chekhov’s classic study of wasted lives, with Diego Arciniegas replacing John Kuntz in the title role. Craig Lucas’s adaptation is Americanized to a fault, but staging each of the four acts in a different room makes the audience feel like privileged guests on a provincial Russian estate. (Reviewed January 2012.) Through Nov. 11. Apollinaire Theatre Company. At Chelsea Theatre Works, Chelsea.
YOU’RE ME Bessie Award winner Faye Driscoll takes an unsentimental look at identity and relationships. It’s not just about how we make up who we are, but how we impose that imagination on who we suppose others to be. Driscoll performs the 90-minute duet with dancer Jesse Zaritt. Expect wild wigs and all manner of costume changes. Nov. 2-3, 7:30 p.m. $20, $10 students. Institute of Contemporary Art. 617-478-3103, www.icaboston
LORRAINE CHAPMAN THE COMPANY The veteran choreographer and her troupe celebrate 10 years of presenting some of the most provocative dance in Greater Boston with six different retrospective performances over two weekends. In addition to Chapman’s work, the concerts feature new solos crafted by Diane Arvanites and David Parker especially for the dancer-choreographer. Nov. 2-11. $25, $15 seniors and students. Green Street Studios, Cambridge. 617-864-3191, www.lorrainechapman
UNLEASHED! Boston Conservatory’s fall showcase sports three new commissions by Boston Ballet faculty member Gianni Di Marco and New York choreographers Larry Keigwin and Colleen Thomas. But just as highly anticipated are the old works by contemporary masters — Bill T. Jones’s powerful “D-Man in the Waters,” set to the Mendelssohn Octet (played live by Conservatory musicians) and Twyla Tharp’s rollicking “Eight Jelly Rolls,” set to the seductive jazz of Jelly Roll Morton. Nov. 1-4. $10-$30. Boston Conservatory Theater. 617-912-9222, www.boston
BOSOMA DANCE COMPANY For its fall opener, “Moving Target,” the athletic, high-spirited company is joined by the New York-based Patricia Kenny Reilly Dance Collection for a wide-ranging program of works by Reilly, Bosoma artistic directors Katherine Hooper and Irada Djelassi, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater artistic director Robert Battle. Nov. 2-3, 8 p.m. $22, $20 seniors and students. Boston University Dance Theatre. 617-358-2500, www.brownpapertickets.com
CHRISTIAN BOLTANSKI: 6 SEPTEMBRES The French artist meditates on memory with this interactive three-channel video. Sped-up news footage from the same day across 60 years conveys time’s rush. Viewers may press pause to contemplate a single event. Through Dec. 20. Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, 24 Quincy St., Cambridge. 617-495-3251, www.ves.fas.harvard.edu
ON SINCERITY This exhibition, which counters our ironic age, features work by artists who build community, artists who use their bodies to express vulnerability, artists guided by their materials, and artists who use mass-media memes to critique and deflate irony. Through Dec. 16. 808 Gallery, Boston University, 808 Commonwealth Ave. 617-353-3349, www.bu.edu/cfa
JANET KAWADA: SHIFT IN TIME Kawada will be in the gallery five days a week, five hours a day, winding a single ball of string. Viewers are invited to sit with her, wind their own ball, and converse about marking time. Through Dec. 2. Kingston Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave. 617-423-4113, www.kingstongallery.com
CARO: CLOSE UP The great British modernist sculptor is honored with a three-room overview of his career, from early drawings during his days as a student of Henry Moore to later sculptures and experiments with paper. Through Dec. 30. Yale Center For British Art, New Haven.
PRINTMAKING IN THE AGE OF REMBRANDT Prints by more than a dozen artists from 17th-century Holland. Through Jan. 6. Currier Museum Of Art, Manchester. 603-669-6144,
IN THE HOLOCENE A group exhibition that conceives of art as a speculative science, featuring work by John Baldessari, Marcel Broodthaers, Jack Goldstein, Joan Jonas, and Robert Smithson, among others. Through Jan. 6. List Visual Arts Center. 617-253-4680, listart.mit.edu
KENNEDY TO KENT STATE: IMAGES OF A GENERATION Archival photos from the 1960s that seared themselves into the public imagination. Through Feb. 3. Worcester Art Museum, Worcester. 508-799-4406, www.worces
JEFF PERROTT: VITAVULNUS The Latin title roughly translates to “vulnerable life.” Perrott has long used chance to determine his paint application. Here, he ups the ante, focusing more on the lush intensity and emotional urgency of his material.
Pictured: Perrott’s “RW134 (Perfect Picture).” Through Dec. 12. LaMontagne Gallery, 555 East 2nd St., South Boston.