Lawrence Harbison, The Playfixer, brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York. This week, Larry tells you about BRIEF ENCOUNTER, ORLANDO, ALPHABETICAL ORDER, ME, MYSELF & I, THROUGH THE NIGHT, TRANS-EURO EXPRESS and A BRIGHT NEW BOISE.

Brief Encounter, director Emma Rice’s adaptation of the classic David Lean film (screenplay by Nöel Coward) has come to Broadway’s Studio 54 by way of Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse, where it captivated audiences and critics alike last season. Ms. Rice’s production is exhilarating and ineffably beautiful, and will prove to be one of the highlights of this already promising season.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the film, it’s the story of two star-crossed lovers who meet at a train station. Laura is on her way home after a day of shopping. Alec is on his way home after a day at hospital, where he is a doctor. They are clearly Meant For Each Other; but, alas, each is married. They commence a tender love affair before realizing that, inevitably, it must end.

Ms. Rice has joined the ranks of the world’s great directors with her wittily inventive staging of this story, which involves two other romances – between the bossy woman who runs the tea room at the train station and a porter, and her assistant and a candy vendor. Into this mix Ms. Rice weaves songs by Coward, goofily sung by her cast, who accompany themselves on various musical instruments. Her actors are just plain wonderful. Hannah Yelland (Laura)and Tristan Sturrock (Alec) will break your heart.

Brief Encounter is one of the greatest evenings I have ever spent in the theatre.

Sarah Ruhl hit the Big Time with plays such as The Clean House, Dead Man’s Cell Phone and In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play, so it’s no surprise that her older plays are now of interest to Off Broadway theatre companies. Last season, Irondale gave us her Passion Play (written several years ago) and this season CSC is presenting Orlando, currently on view, a dramatization of Virginia Woolf’s novel about a young man who travels through time, starting out as a man in Elizabethan England and winding up as a woman in the 20th Century. I think Woolf was making a point about gender identity throughout history, but I think there’s a lot of allegory in there about her own conflicting sexuality.

Much of the play is narrated, story-theatre style, which would be stultifying were it not for the extremely inventive staging by Rebecca Taichman and the wonderful performances by her cast. Francesca Faridany is endearing in the eponymous role, and David Greenspan steals the show in various supporting roles, one of which is Gloriana herself.

This one isn’t a drop-everything-must-see, but it’s fascinating from a theatrical standpoint, if that floats your boat.

Michael Frayn’s Alphabetical Order won the Evening Standard Award for Best New Comedy 35 years ago but is only just now receiving it’s New York premiere, in a charming staging by the Keen Co, at the Clurman Theatre, directed by Keen’s Artistic Director Carl Forsman.

It’s set in the morgue of a provincial newspaper. In pre-Internet days, a newspaper morgue was where clippings which might be needed by reporters in order to research their stories were kept. This one looks like the Collyer brothers are in charge. Into this mess comes a young woman, recently hired by the harried librarian to try and turn chaos into some semblance of order. Which she does.

Frayn’s cast of characters are hilarious portraits of various newspaper types, all wonderfully played by Forsman’s cast.  This one’s a don’t-miss.

Edward Albee’s Me, Myself & I, at Playwrights Horizons, almost seems at times to be a parody of an Edward Albee play. It’s about a woman who has two grown sons, identical twins. One’s name is OTTO; the other’s name is otto. One loves her; the other doesn’t. Which is which? Who cares?

Emily Mann, the director, has taken the heat for this terrible evening in the theatre because Albee apparently is, officially, the “Greatest Living American Playwright” so he’s hands-off. Balderdash. Nobody could direct this play and make it anything less than silly, repetitive drivel.

Through the Night, at the Union Square Theatre, is written and performed by Daniel Beaty, who in the grand tradition of the best one-actor plays doesn’t stick to just one character. He plays fathers, mothers, young and grown children. What emerges is an inspirational portrait of how far black men have come, and the next steps they need to take.

Beaty is a fantastic chameleon, with a world class baritone singing voice.  This show will be of particular appeal to black folks; but I’m a white dude and it moved me.

Gary Duggan’s Trans-Euro Express, at the Irish Arts Center, is a buddy film of a play about two mates – one an office drone and one a singer-song/writer — who go on a trip across Europe, ostensibly to make a video of one man’s new song. They have various adventures, some of them romantic, and wind up parting.

The writing is standard-issue for this sort of play; but the direction by Chris Henry is very inventive, and the actors are terrific.

Finally, I caught one of the last performances of Samuel D. Hunter’s A Bright New Boise at the Wild Project. It was set in the lunch room of an arts and crafts store in Boise, Idaho, and focused on a man’s attempt to reconnect with the son he has never known and in general to start over with his life. Hunter is a terrifically-talented playwright, and Davis McCallum’s production was absolutely wonderful. This one deserves to resurface somewhere else but it probably won’t, alas.

BRIEF ENCOUNTER. Roundabout at Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St.

Tickets: 212-719-1300

ORLANDO. CSC, 136 E. 13th St.

Tickets: 212-677-4210

ALPHABETICAL ORDER. Harold Clurman Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St.

Tickets: www.ticketcentral.com or 212-279-4200

ME, MYSELF & I. Playwrights Horizons, 416 W. 42nd St.

Tickets: www.ticketcentral.com or 212-279-4200

THROUGH THE NIGHT. Union Square Theatre, 100 E. 17th St.

Tickets: 800-982-2787

TRANS-EURO EXPRESS. Irish Arts Center. Alas, closed

A BRIGHT NEW BOISE. The Wild Project. Alas, closed

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