Filmmaking siblings Ethan and Joel Coen have demonstrated a certain elan in their collaborations on such films as Miller’s Crossing and True Grit. While their movies aren’t always as emotionally compelling as they are stylish, Ethan Coen’s latest project, A Play Is a Poem — which is actually five otherwise unrelated short plays sharing Americana themes and settings — promises to be fascinating visually and dramatically. Directed by Neil Pepe and presented by Atlantic Theater Company, the plays roam across such locations as “the hillbilly hollows of Appalachia, a New York tenement apartment, a magnolia-scented gazebo in Natchez, Mississippi, [and] the executive suites of Hollywood.” Most intriguingly, the brilliant pop-jazz singer-pianist Nellie McKay imbues the proceedings with live performances of her witty original songs.
Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Fri., Sept. 27, 8 p.m.; through Sun., Oct. 13, 6:30 p.m.; $25-$90. (213) 628-2772, centertheatregroup.org.