Malibu Seen / By Kim Devore

THE PLAY’S THE THING

The Geffen is gearing up for its 2010-2011 season with new plays by Jane Anderson and Neil LaBute, plus local premieres of works by Tracy Letts and Lynn Nottage. The theater is aiming its upcoming offerings at grown-up audiences and describes the season as “proudly provocative.”

Five productions are on tap for the main stage and there’s no shortage of dramatic, imaginative and racy material.

The season kicks off with “Ruined,” which won a Pulitzer Prize for drama last year. The show takes place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the country’s Civil War and deals with serious issues like violence against women. The story centers around Mama Nadi’s bar, which provides a refuge for women with no place left to go. But is Mama a protector or a profiteer?

For lighter fare, artistic director Randall Arney sets the stage for “Superior Donuts.” The comedy follows the friendship between the owner of a run-down Chicago doughnut shop and his idealistic young pal. The old way of doing business is about to change when Franco, a fast-talking dreamer arrives on the scene.

Anderson’s “The Escort: An Explicit Play for Discriminating People” explores the world of high-class call girls and the relationship between an escort, her gynecologist and the doctor’s 13-year-old son. As a relationship unfolds, more than just body parts are revealed. With nudity and adult themes, this one’s for mature audiences only. It’s Anderson’s second go round at the Geffen, which presented “The Quality of Life” back in 2007. The production is directed by Lisa Peterson.

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LaBute offers up “The Break of Noon,” which tells the story of an office worker who escapes an on-the-job shooting. John Smith hears the voice of God and goes on an evangelical tour to spread the word of a better way of life. The question is whether his heavenly encounter is a ploy for celebrity, a chance to escape his dark past or part of a divine plan.

There’s another treat from Hershey Felder, who returns with a new stage bio of a great American composer. “Maestro: The Art of Leonard Bernstein” is sure to delight music lovers. Felder was also the creative force behind “George Gershwin Alone.”

Look for a few first-class shows at the venue’s smaller theater, which in recent years has boasted acclaimed performances from locals like Roma Downey and Ed Harris. The season kicks off with the West Coast premiere of “Ruined” on Sept. 7.

Got a hot happening or cool event? Send the 411 to kimdevore@malibutimes.com.

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