4, 5, 6 at 59th St.; N, Q, R at Lexington Ave.-59th St.
Peer through 59E59’s soaring glass façade after the curtains fall on performance nights and you’ll likely witness a particularly British tradition: actors tipping back beers with audience members at the small mezzanine-level bar. The scene is appropriate for a house that frequently looks across the pond for inspiration. The nonprofit arts complex launched in 2004 with Brits Off Broadway, a series of quirky imports—some fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival—that has become an annual rite of spring in New York. But the theater’s Anglophilia has its limits. Small companies from around the world appear throughout the year and the largest of three theaters is home to the Primary Stages which focuses on work by Yanks like Terrence MacNally, A.R. Gurney, and Christopher Durang. Wherever a play’s origins, the atmosphere at 59E59 is always festive, especially at the bar during the pre-show buildup between 6 and 8 p.m.