Essential shows to see

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Bread and Puppet Theater’s “Man = Carrot Circus” (from a performance in Glover, VT).
This year’s presentation of Bread and Puppet Theater is sponsored by the number “40.” Appropriate, considering this is the 40th year that Peter Schumann’s nonprofit, self-supporting, puppet-centric theatrical company has made the pilgrimage from their Vermont home base to the Lower East Side’s Theater for the New City. Also of interest to their sponsoring number: One of their upcoming performances (“Attica”) is a revival of a piece created 40 years ago as a response to that infamous prison massacre (and first performed in Bread and Puppet’s Coney Island theater). Over the course of a little over two weeks, B&P will present works for both adult and all-ages audiences — including the family-friendly “Man = Carrot Circus” and the just-for-grownups “Man of Flesh and Cardboard” (about PFC Bradley Manning, the soldier incarcerated for supplying restricted material to WikiLeaks). As for “Carrot Circus,” it’s based on the revelation (or theory, or tall tale) that an upright man rooted in dirt was created in the image of the upright carrot rooted in dirt.

Dec. 1-18. At Theater for the New City (155 First Ave., at E. 10th St.). For tickets (12; $6 for children 12 and under), call 212-254-1109 or visit theaterforthenewcity.net (where you can also find a complete schedule of performances). Also visit breadandpuppet.org.

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Daddy’s dying: Linda Lavin and Dick Latessa as Ben and Rita Lyons, in “The Lyons.”
Thanks to an extension of its run through November 20, the world-premiere production of Nicky Silver’s “The Lyons” (his seventh play at The Vineyard Theatre) continues to surpass the box office record it broke for the venue. That means you still have a brief window of opportunity to see the show and secure bragging rights (“I remember when I saw….”) for years to come. Mark Brokaw directs. Linda Lavin and Dick Latessa star as parents who finally bond with their children on the sad occasion of dad’s impending death. As the fractured family gathers to say goodbye, they make one last (well, first) attempt to forge a real human connection before death removes that procrastinator’s task from the table.

Through Nov. 20. Tues. at 7pm; Wed.-Sat. at 8pm; Sat./Sun. at 3pm. At the Vineyard Theatre (108 E. 15th St., btw. Park and Irving). For tickets ($70; premium seats, $100), call 212-353-0303 vineyardtheatre.org.

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Jasmine Eileen Coles as Kennedy “Monette.”
Talk about your forced transitions. Her only child just left for college. Her divorce is looming. Suddenly, Kennedy “Monette” faces an empty nest, an empty bed and an uncertain future. Jasmine Eileen Coles plays the title character, and more than ten others — including Monette’s smooth African-American father, her folklore-obsessed Caribbean mother and her high-strung best friend. Together, the combined forces of these eccentrics might give Monette the attitude adjustment she needs in order to laugh in the face of despair.

Through Nov. 27. Thurs.-Sat. at 8pm; Sat./Sun. at 3pm; Sun. at 7pm. At Walkerspace (46 Walker St., btw. Church St. and Broadway). For tickets ($30), call 212-868-4444 or visit smarttix.com. Also visit kmjproductions.com

The Irish Repertory Theatre’s 24th season continues, with this 20th Anniversary production of Brian Friel’s “Dancing at Lughnasa” (which opened on Broadway in October 1991 and won the 1992 Tony Award for Best Play). Set in a modest cottage in Donegal as the autumn of 1936 approaches, the play finds five unmarried sisters entwined with the fate of eight-year-old love child, Michael, and the Mundy brother priest, Uncle Jack (recently returned from 25 years in a leper colony in Uganda). Ancient tribal customs and Christian beliefs clash, as the sisters dance in a wild, final celebration of their way of life before it changes forever.

Through Dec. 11. Wed-Sat., 8pm; matinees on Wed., Sat., Sun. at 3pm. At the Irish Repertory Theatre (132 W. 22nd St., btw. 6th & 7th Aves.). For tickets ($65, $55), call the Irish Rep box office at 212-727-2737 or visit irishrep.org.

Charades: No other game in history (with the possible exception of Monopoly) has inspired more frustration, power plays and bitter grudges. But in the capable hands of gifted actors, charades can be a thing of beauty — and should it turn ugly, at least the proceeds go to a good cause. Labyrinth Theater Company’s annual signature benefit event (“Celebrity Charades 2011: Down and Derby”) has four celebrity teams miming their way to the Winner’s Circle in a speed charades competition to support Labyrinth’s 2011/12 season. At press time, the amiable players (and, perhaps, future bitter enemies) included Bob Balaban, Bobby Cannavale, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Ortiz, Chris Rock, Cynthia Rowley and Kristen Wiig.

Mon., Nov. 14, at the Highline Ballroom (431 W. 16th St., btw. 9th & 10th Aves.). The VIP reception starts 6:30pm; event begins at 8pm. For info on tickets and tables, visit labtheater.org, call 212-513-1080.