This week, Jared Bowen's art picks introduce audiences to the gritty side of Victorian London, the life of an artist whose work is based on forgery, and a coming of middle-age tale. 

"The Threepenny Opera," presented by the Boston Lyric Opera through March 25

Mrs. Peachum (Michelle Trainor) and Macheath (Christopher Burchett) in "The Threepenny Opera."
Liza Voll Photography, courtesy of the Boston Lyric Opera

The Boston Lyric Opera presents the "The Threepenny Opera" on the 90th anniversary of its premiere in Berlin. Written by Bertolt Brecht and composed by Kurt Weill, "Threepenny" delivers audiences into the seedy, underground world of a hazy, Victorian London where Macheath (a.k.a. Mack the Knife) rules with powers of the criminal and seduction kind.

The BLO production offers a visually arresting slide into a world built on grit and cunning. Kelly Kaduce is a standout as Polly Peachum, Macheath’s new bride. Hers is a mesmerizing performance that dances along the border of demented and delicious and seems wisely constructed from the vibrant vestiges of Weimar cabaret.

"The Bakelite Masterpiece," presented by New Repertory Theatre through April 8

Benjamin Evett as Han van Meegeren in "The Bakelite Masterpiece."
Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures, Courtesy of New Repertory Theatre

A compelling two-hander ripped from history’s headlines, this New Repertory Theatre production tells the true story of Dutch artist Han van Meegeren. A painter who was shunned by gallerists and academics, he turned his talent to forgery — producing two “new” Vermeers which the art world accepted with glee in the early 20th century. But after he was charged with treason for selling one of the Vermeers to the Nazis, van Meegeren was forced to prove to his accusers the works were in fact his. 

A story of a most unlikely art star, the more you come to know van Meegeren, the more your assumptions and even belief systems around art and talent will be tested. "The Bakelite Masterpiece" (which refers to the plastic he mixed in his paints to give his works an aged look) creates a Han van Meegeren legacy well beyond forgery.

"Steve,"presented by the Zeitgeist Stage Company through March 24

(l-r) Mikey DiLoreto, Alex Jacobs, Jenny Reagan, Victor Shopov, Adam Boisselle and Mike Nilsson in "Steve."
David J. Miller, courtesy of Zeitgeist Stage Company

Zeitgeist Stage Company lightens up its season with this comedy by playwright Mike Gerrard. Four gay friends who once lived, worked and partied fancy free must reconcile the new realities of their lives including parenthood, wandering eyes and mortality. "Steve" is middle age on the edge. And much like life, it’s a comedy until it’s not.