Coming up next week in Bay Area theater are two significant openings, the one-woman drama The Pianist of Willesden Lane at Berkeley Rep, and the one-man drama Underneath the Lintel at A.C.T., starring David Strathairn.
The Pianist of Willesden Lane, which begins previews October 25, is set in Vienna in 1938 and in London during the Blitzkrieg and tells the story of Jewish musician Lisa Jura through the mouth of her daughter, Mona Golabek. Golabek, herself, is an internationally acclaimed concert pianist and storyteller, and she wrote this piece with Lee Cohen to relay her mother's escape from Nazi Vienna through a mix of both narrative and music. The one-woman piece sounds like it will be a notable and powerful play (the Los Angeles Times said of its premiere at the Geffen Playhouse, "[it's an] arresting, deeply affecting triumph"), and it's directed by another pianist and performer, Hershey Felder, who appeared earlier this year at the Rep in George Gershwin Alone. Get tickets here.
And over at A.C.T. on October 23 is the first preview of Underneath the Lintel, a one-man show starring David Strathairn -- who last appeared here in Scorched in 2012. The play is by Glen Berger and is directed by A.C.T. artistic director Carey Perloff, and it centers on a library book 113 years overdue. Strathairn plays an eccentric library who finds the book in a return bin and begins a quest to track down the person who originally checked it out, using clues found in his own library. Variety called the piece "powerfully human and ultimately sublime." Below, a brief promo. Get tickets here.