‘Chatterton’ Opens at Quantum Theatre; Kinetic Theatre Opens ‘The Father’ (Fri., 9/14/18)

Helena Ruoti isn't sure what to trust in 'Chatterton,' and small wonder. (Photo: Jason Snyder)

Helena Ruoti isn’t sure what to trust in ‘Chatterton,’ and small wonder. (Photo: Jason Snyder)

1) In a year that’s been riddled with talk about “fake news”—not to mention true news of real deceit, and the statement that “Truth isn’t truth”—perhaps it is fitting that Quantum Theatre opens its season with the play Chatterton. Thomas Chatterton was a teenaged prodigy, a gifted young British poet in the 1700s. He was also an intriguing prankster. Before his tragic suicide, at the age of 17, he won notice by writing poems in a weird, self-invented form of archaic English, and convincing many people they’d been written by a medieval monk whose work he had discovered.

Quantum’s play deepens the intrigue. Adapted from the novel Chatterton, by Peter Ackroyd, it spins a tale of a modern-day writer who discovers that the young man may have faked his death—and then went on to ghostwrite poetry which was wrongly credited to other famous writers. More bafflement ensues, as the story grows into a multi-layered dark-comic detective saga. The original adaptation is directed by Karla Boos, Quantum’s artistic director, and features an all-star cast of Pittsburgh-based actors. Part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, Chatterton is performed in immersive style at Trinity Cathedral Pittsburgh. Dinner is served during the show’s intermission and this weeks celebrity chef providing spectacular food is Kate Romane of Black Radish Kitchen. 7:30 p.m. tonight is sold out. Performances continue through October 28. 328 6th Ave., Downtown. (MV)

2) France has a young superstar playwright in Florian Zeller, and Pittsburgh’s Kinetic Theatre is staging a Zeller play that’s become an international sensation. The Father is about an old man descending into dementia. What’s remarkable is that everything unfolds as the man perceives it—or, rather, misperceives it. Past and present get jumbled; events are liable to happen out of chronological order. The identities of people in the man’s life are fluid and elusive. Furniture in his apartment is rearranged from one scene to the next. As things go on, we see the man struggling to figure out what’s up—is the apartment really his?—and therein, perhaps, lies a seed to the play’s wide appeal. Not all of us suffer from dementia, but we’re each born into a world we didn’t create. We play roles that we didn’t invent in dramas we don’t control. Which gives us good cause to wonder what’s up and who we really are. The Father is performed in an English translation by Christopher Hampton. 8 p.m. Runs through September 23. At the New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. (MV)

3)  When I was a kid, my grandmother took me to see the Shrine Circus. It was my first opportunity to see several animal and human wonders up close. They were all there—elephants, tigers, clowns, acrobats, and the ringmaster. The Shrine Circus is a Pittsburgh Shriners’ fundraiser to support the 22 Shriner Hospitals for Children across North America. This is a great opportunity for family fun and to help out a great charity. 7 p.m. Runs through Sunday. PPG Paints Arena, 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown.