Once again, Santa Monica’s own ambitious, cutting edge theatre company, City Garage, is striking out in a unique direction.

Part two of “The Winter of Our Discontent: Shakespeare in the Digital Age” focuses on “Lear,” interpreted by provocative playwright Young Jean Lee.

I recently wrote about Lee’s “Straight White Men” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Now she’s taking the Shakespearean classic, about an aging, misguided monarch who confuses loyalty and love, to a new level.

Called by some critics her best work yet, Lee describes her “Lear” as an “inaccurate distortion,” banishing the title monarch and most of the other male characters to the wings, focusing instead on the younger generation: Lear’s three daughters and Gloucester’s two sons. The absurdist, meta-results are irreverent, grotesque, and morally harrowing. I’m told it’s both dark and funny.

There’s never a dull moment at a City Garage production. Find out for yourself at opening night this Friday. Performances are on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m. through March 13.

Tickets and info at www.citygarage.org. City Garage is located at the western end of Bergamot Art Station, near the 26th Street exit. Parking is free on site. Arrive early and treat yourself to an art walk among the many galleries.

Mardi Gras at the Broad

Aaron Neville, the New Orleans legend, brings his quintet and his R&B, Creole and Cajun-inflected song stylings to the Broad Stage in time to celebrate Mardi Gras, with two performances only, Feb. 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m.

The Grammy Award-winning, Platinum album-selling artist will “Tell it Like It Is” and let the good times roll with classic harmonies and a top-flight band. The night will showcase Neville’s inimitable vocal style and decades of soul-filled songs from the leading man of New Orleans music.

Along with his family The Neville Brothers, and pop star Linda Ronstadt among numerous other music luminaries, Aaron has been one of the backbones of the New Orleans sound, both a songsmith and a songbird whose voice delivers a beautifully modulated vibrato and whose lyrics have inspired a generation of hit makers across all musical genres.

So grab your Mardi Gras beads and get yo’self into a seat for this one of a kind concert. For details visit www.thebroadstage.com or call the box office at (310) 434-3200.

Not such tiny bubbles

The Amazing Bubble Man is coming back to Edgemar Center for the Arts on Main Street. This is the kind of entertainment that adults and kids can enjoy together, both for the science and the wonder of it all.

Louis Pearl has been a toymaker and seller and has been doing this bubble show around the world for 30 years. He invented a super-secret formula for a liquid solution to make giant bubbles that can encircle an entire human being, as well as building blocks of bubbles that turn into a space ship, a volcano, square bubbles, fog-filled bubbles, bubbles inside of bubbles and more. His comedic patter adds to the fun and dazzling visual display.

See The Amazing Bubble Man in action at Edgemar for four performances only on Feb. 27 and 28, both days at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Online and affordable tickets at www.edgemarcenter.org or reserve seats by calling (310) 392-7327.

Eclectic Skirball

The powerful photography show at the Skirball Cultural Center, “Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams,” closes on Feb. 21. It depicts the treatment of Japanese American citizens who were thrown into isolated camps during World War II.

Accompanying the photographs is a complementary show, “Citizen 13660: The Art of Miné Okubo,” a selection of rare original artwork by California-born artist Miné Okubo, one of the thousands of Japanese American forced to leave their homes and businesses and into incarceration camps. She documented the injustices of the camps in 200 pen and ink drawings later published as one of the earliest graphic novels (1946)

But that’s not all: fans of guitar wizard Bill Frisell will have the opportunity to enjoy his show, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” featuring imaginative renditions of time-honored songs from classic films and television, like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and a recent update of the James Bond movie hit, “You Only Live Twice,” featuring Petra Haden’s hauntingly chill vocals. You’ll even hear the theme from The Dick Van Dyke show!

Tickets are still available, get the early bird price through Feb. 11 for this February 25 one-off performance, at www.skirball.org/programs/music/bill-frisell-when-you-wish-upon-star.

Einstein, almost at the beach

Actor Jack Fry quotes Albert Einstein as saying,  “I want to know God’s thoughts. The rest is just details,” in his one-man historical drama “Einstein!”

Einstein comes back from beyond to tell us that his image has been besmirched and he wants to tell the true story behind the theory of relativity and his own struggles as a father. As he awaits news from an eclipse expedition in 1914 Berlin, he hopes it will help him prove his theory. But the World War, anti-Semitism, theft of his ideas, his pacifist views, a son who fights for his attention and a wife who won’t divorce him all conspire to impede his ultimate scientific triumph.

See “Einstein!” one night only at Santa Monica Playhouse on Monday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2002222.

Sarah A. Spitz spent her career as a producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica and produced freelance arts reports for NPR. She has also written features and reviews for various print and online publications.

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