Good Person of Szechwan

Let's just come right out and say it: The Foundry Theatre's production of Bertolt Brecht's rarely-seen 1943 morality drama "Good Person of Szechwan," which premiered at La MaMa last winter and is now receiving an encore run at the Public Theater, is the best production of a Brecht play in years.

Brecht, the most revolutionary political playwright of the 20th century, has been receiving renewed interest in recent years, most notably at Classic Stage Company, which has produced "Galileo" and "The Caucasian Chalk Circle" and is about to present "A Man's a Man." Atlantic Theatre Company is also preparing a new staging of "The Threepenny Opera."

"Good Person of Szechwan" explores how Shen Tei, a young prostitute with a heart of gold, becomes so torn apart by unrealistic religious ideals as to how one ought to act that she must invent Shui Ta, a ruthless male alter ego, who steps in and takes control of her life whenever necessary.

Lear DeBessonet's remarkable production combine Brecht's liberal politics with a hip downtown aesthetic, exaggerated comedy and live folk-rock music from César Alvarez and The Lisps.

Drag artist Taylor Mac is an inspired casting choice as Shen Tei/Shui Ta. He delivers a phenomenal, deeply-felt performance in which he seamlessly switches off between Shen Tei's tortured nobility and red dress and Shui Ta's harsh practicality and sleek business suit and bowler hat.

Mac is joined by playwright-performer Lisa Kron, who is hilarious in several small roles, and David Turner, who is endearing as a kindly, gentle water seller.