Lorenzo Pisoni in Humor Abuse
(© Joan Marcus)
Lorenzo Pisoni in Humor Abuse
(© Joan Marcus)
Most children fantasize of running away with the circus. In Lorenzo Pisoni and Erica Schmidt's play Humor Abuse (September 25-October 25), presented by the Philadelphia Theatre Company, we encounter a young protagonist who dreams only of escaping the big top. The winner of numerous awards for its Off-Broadway run, the solo play tells of Pisoni's life in his family's circus and his relationship with his brilliant but distant father.

The Walnut Street Theatre opens their 201st season with the hit Broadway musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (September 16-October 25). Based on the 1988 film, the story follows two con-men on the French Riviera with a less than amiable relationship. Featuring a book by Jeffrey Lane with music and lyrics by David Yazbek, the production stars Paul Schoeffler (who arrives directly from the Broadway smash Rock of Ages) and Ben Dibble, who recently garnered a Barrymore Award nomination for his performance at the Walnut in The Producers.

The Arden Theatre Company opens their season with Alan Bennett's Tony Award winner The History Boys (September 24-November 1). Set in a British prep school, the play focuses on a veteran history teacher and his class of male students. Magnificently funny and exceptionally well crafted, Boys engages the audience in a stirring debate regarding the value of learning history.

Although the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe (September 4-19) are connected, they differ slightly as the 15 productions in the former have all been selected, while the latter (which has nearly 200 shows) is open to all artists who wish to participate. What the two share is a focus on cutting-edge performances in a wide variety of disciplines including theater, dance, music, and spoken word. Noted monologist Mike Daisey appears at the Live Arts with his acclaimed How Theater Failed America (September 4-6), a diatribe railing against the current state of American Theater, and the world premiere of his new work, The Last Cargo Cult (September 10-13), which recalls Daisey's recent visit to a remote South Pacific island where the inhabitants worship all things American.

Few plays are better suited for an authentic Irish bar than The Brothers Flanagan (September 5-16), which is receiving its world premiere at Fergie's Pub as a Fringe production. Local playwright Bill Rolleri's new work -- starring veteran actors Michael Toner and H. Michael Walls -- focuses on two brothers whose business of running an Irish pub is jeopardized when a serial killer begins stalking their Philadelphia neighborhood. Opening at the Fringe and running beyond it, is the powerful Holocaust drama Who Will Carry the Word? (September 13-26). Penned by Holocaust survivor Charlotte Delbo and presented by Melanie Stewart Dance Theater in collaboration with otherWORDS Theater, the 1966 drama draws on Delbo's life as a prisoner at Auschwitz.