Quantum Puts New Spin on ‘The Winter’s Tale’; ‘The Visit’ on Local Screens (Sat., 9/19/15)

TheWintersTale_titleonly1) Whereas many Pittsburgh theater companies schedule adventurous and unusual plays some of the time, Quantum Theatre does nothing but. It is the city’s de facto out-there company, with out-of-the-mainstream productions staged at out-of-the-way locations. Quantum did Émile Zola’s romantic potboiler Thérése Raquin in an empty swimming pool and performed a spooky adaptation of José Saramago’s dystopian novel All the Names in a vacant library building. This month Quantum takes on Shakespeare, choosing his enigmatic play The Winter’s Tale. It has nothing to do with winter; it’s a tragedy-slash-comedy with a happy ending (jealous husband drives wife and child to their deaths, but wait wait, there’s a twist); and the script includes Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction, sending off one unhappy fellow with “Exit, pursued by a bear.”

The Winter’s Tale is so weird that few companies today attempt it. Quantum has turned it into a baroque opera—enlisting music director Andres Cladera, singers in all the roles, musicians from Chatham Baroque, and a dance troupe from Attack Theatre. 8 p.m. Continues through October 3. Will the bear dance? Find out in the Music Hall at the Union Trust Building, 501 Grant St., Downtown. (MV)


The Visit – There’s probably a cautionary tale for all of us in the story of director/writer M. Night Shyamalan. With a sonic boom he exploded into all of our lives with The Sixth Sense. (“I see dead people.”) Not merely the flavor of a month, Shyamalan, according to just about everyone, was on his way to becoming flavor of the millennium.

And then his subsequent films started turning up: Unbreakable, Signs, The Village, Lady in the Water … all bringing increasingly louder howls of derisive scorn. Things got really ugly when he paid someone to write a book about his script for Lady. The movie got panned and the book got savaged; partly because much of it was about how brilliant he was. His career was finally announced as D.O.A. following the release of After Earth – the pseudo-Scientology vanity sci-fi pic starring Will Smith and his son Jaden. Nobody, the thinking went, could ever recover from that debacle.

Except here he comes again with The Visit. It’s all twists and surprises so I can’t really tell you anything except to say it involves grandparents and grandchildren and things get dark and scary. Shyamalan has brought back dead things before, let’s see if he can resurrect his career. (TH)

3) Why are some people big fans of one-act festivals? Because going to one, as opposed to seeing a full-length play, is like reading short stories versus reading a novel. You get a cross-section of stories in different styles and moods, which (a) is fun in itself, and (b) helps assure that you’ll see something you really like. The Pittsburgh New Works Festival, now in its 25th year, is one of the oldest and largest of its kind. During September, a total of 12 new one-acts are presented in four rotating evenings of three plays each; see the Festival website for schedules and details. This year’s entries come from playwrights living across the United States and beyond—there’s even one by an American expat in Barcelona—and the pieces range from high comedy to introspective drama. 4 and 8 p.m. Continues through September 27. Carnegie Stage, 25 W. Main St., Carnegie. (MV)


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Rick Handler

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