Something old, something new. This weekend gives you a chance for either — or both, if your appetite for interesting theater is hungry this time of year. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is currently presenting one of the Bard's lesser known plays, TIMON OF ATHENS. —- It's rarely staged; this is the first time in CSC's 15-year history that it's been offered locally. And there's good reason: It's not very focused and it's likely that Shakespeare didn't write all of it. Nevertheless, CSC has turned it into a biting commentary on the state of today's world. CityBeat critic Tom McElfresh calls it "a sharp-edged, frequently funny, relentlessly caustic, razzle-dazzle production" and adds that "it slathers on layers of contemporary satire: strippers, machine guns, dance-bar music, Halloween-masked terrorists, white tuxedos and, yes, an outrageous Sarah Palin look-alike." It also features a praiseworthy performance by Nick Rose, one of the stalwarts who founded a Shakespeare company back in 1994 that has been entertaining audiences for a decade and a half. He plays an insanely, imprudently generous man who goes off the deep end when people turn their backs on him. Might be a lesson for all of us in these perilous economic times. Box office: 513-381-2273.
If you prefer a script with the ink still fresh, you might check out Know Theatre of Cincinnati's Midwestern premiere of Sarah Ruhl's EURYDICE, which opens a month-long run on Saturday evening. It's based on a Greek myth about a woman who dies and whose husband, the musician Orpheus, tries to fetch her back from the underworld. Ruhl has a magical way with storytelling (her play The Clean House was a charming 2005 hit for the Cincinnati Playhouse several years ago), and she gives this tale of grief and longing a lot of contemporary values and twists, not to mention a few laughs. The Best Plays Theater Yearbook, perhaps America's most respected annual compendium of new theatrical work, named Eurydice one of its 10 best plays of 2007-2008. You can bet that it will have an inventive staging at Know Theatre, where tickets are just $12. Box office: 513-300-5669.