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Theater Roundup

So (to quote Terry Teachout) you want to see a show?

Here's what our reviewers recommend this week:

Matthew Crehan Higgins and Gary Andrews in "Recovery Mode" at Buffalo United Artists.

"Recovery Mode," through July 17 in Buffalo United Artists Theatre. From the review: "Art imitates life — and in some ways virtually repeats it — in a funny, racy way in Buffalo United Artists’ production of “Recovery Mode,” Matthew Burlingame’s comic retelling of a true-ish “love/hate” story by Matthew Crehan Higgins... It works better than you might expect, but we never escape the sense that this is pretty much a one-man show accessorized by less-realized supporting figures." --Melinda Miller

Saul Elkin and Leah Russo in "The Merchant of Venice" at Shakespeare in Delaware Park. Photo by Morgan Walker / The Buffalo News.

"The Merchant of Venice," through July 10 at Shakespeare in Delaware Park. From the review: "Seldom have humor and menace combined in such a potent brew as Shakespeare’s 'The Merchant of Venice,' a tale of improbable comedy in the face of fierce prejudice that opened the 36th season of Shakespeare in Delaware Park in grand fashion on Thursday night. And this production, fraught with tension and loaded with deeply felt performances, achieved a rare immediacy that kept audience members on the hill utterly rapt across the play’s very fast three hours. This is no small task, as anyone who has slogged through lesser productions of outdoor Shakespeare can readily attest." --Colin Dabkowski

Greg Howze as Dawud, left, and Xavier Harris as Insidious in rehearsal for Insidious at the Road Less Traveled Theater. Photographed on Monday, July 12, 2010.  Photo by Bill Wippert

"Insidious," through July 10 in the Road Less Traveled Theatre, a repeat performance from the show's 2010 run. From the review: " 'Insidious' manages to investigate bisexuality, addiction and recovery, infidelity and self-delusion, all while sustaining a level of suspense that keeps audience members leaning forward in their seats. Though the play occasionally strikes a moralistic tone -- especially as it applies to the dangers of unsafe sex, an area where a didactic approach is understandable -- it stays largely focused on the heartbreaking plight of its protagonist." --Colin Dabkowski

At the Shaw Festival:

Corrine Koslo as Constance Constantia and Thom Marriott as Hector de la Mare in "Drama at Inish: A Comedy." Photo by David Cooper.

"Drama at Inish: A Comedy," through Oct 1 in the Court House Theatre. From the review (coming tomorrow): "The production, directed by Jackie Maxwell with an innate understanding of the piece's lighthearted nature and its need for a light touch, is as appealing as the script. Maxwell coaxes phenomenal comic performances from Corrine Koslo and Thom Marriott, the self-besotted actors who take their mission with deadly seriousness. Mary Haney's performance of the put-upon innkeeper Lizzie is a brilliant, frenetic combination of Kristen Wiig and Lily Tomlin transported unawares to the Irish seaside." --Colin Dabkowski

Gray Powell as Brick, Jim Mezon as Big Daddy and Corrine Koslo as Big Mama in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." Photo by Emily Cooper.

"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," through Oct. 23 in the Royal George Theatre. From the review: "Jim Mezon, the actor who plays Big Daddy, imbues his character with a special mix of nasty, unbridled rage and crazed hope, the two poles between which any production of "Cat" worth its spit violently and relentlessly swing. This production, directed with a passionate sensibility and the odd flicker of restraint by Eda Holmes, allows Williams' characters to lay themselves bare without the interference of a "fresh" interpretation. The play... bastes itself in the sweat of its own melodrama until it cooks into something far greater than the sum of its ingredients." --Colin Dabkowski

Members of the Ensemble in "My Fair Lady." Photo by David Cooper.

"My Fair Lady," through Oct. 30 in the Festival Theatre. From the review: "Molly Smith, director of the Shaw Festival's new production, seems bent on jazzing all this up in ways we've never seen before. Much of it works very well. Benedict Campbell carries the role of the aloof, scholarly, self-centered Higgins with marvelous consistency, striding the stage in well-practiced patterns that still seem spontaneous, and singing with fine projection of both voice and emotions. Opposite him, Deborah Hay makes Eliza's gradual conversion to a faux aristocrat very convincing. She succeeds dramatically, visually and vocally, in both Cockney squalor and upper-crust elegance." --Herman Trotter

Michael Ball as Captain Shotover, Robin Evan Willis as Ellie Dunn and Patricia Hamilton as Nurse Guinness in "Heartbreak House." Photo by David Cooper.

"Heartbreak House," through Oct. 7 in the Festival Theatre. From the review: "In Christopher Newton's engrossing, impeccably staged production, the play's skeleton crew of eccentrics amble around their vaguely nautical environs for three hours and wax poetic on subjects ranging from the use of one's soul to our conflicting desires for pleasure and purpose. No need to get seasick at the prospect of sitting through the show, though. That Shaw's weighty themes remain so captivating across the evening is a testament both to the comic force of his writing and the talents of Newton's cast, who bring characters that might have been stodgy bores in lesser hands to scintillating life." --Colin Dabkowski


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