Play by Play: March 20, 2009

By CAROLYN CLAY  |  March 18, 2009

BLACKBIRD | David Harrower's play won the 2007 Olivier Award for Best New Play (beating out Rock 'n' Roll, The Seafarer, and Frost/Nixon), and now SpeakEasy Stage Company presents its area premiere, with Elliot Norton Award winner David R. Gammons directing. Sixteen years earlier, as we find out almost a third of the way into the 90 minutes, the 40-year-old Ray, after a long flirtation, took the 12-year-old Una to an inn, where they had sex. Ashamed, he left her there alone. Now the two of them have met up in Ray's office in an industrial building, and their shifting stories of what happened make for shifting emotional sands — for them, as well as for us. This is a crack production: Bates Wilder and Marianne Bassham do a sterling job with the spare, half-sentence dialogue that has its roots in Pinter and Mamet, and Gammons is Boston's master of ultra-violence. | Roberts Studio Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St, Boston | Through March 21 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 4 + 8 pm Sat | $47-$50; $42-$45 students, seniors; $30 gallery seats; $14 student rush, with ID, one hour before curtain, subject to availability

CORIOLANUS | Robert Walsh directs this Actors' Shakespeare Project staging of the Bard's political tragedy about on a Roman war hero who must choose between his pride and his loyalty to Rome (and his mother). Benjamin Evett and Bobbie Steinbach head the cast. "The high-voltage conflicts in the production will be underscored by percussion designer Stephen Serwacki, a former member of the Stomp cast, who will use a variety of unconventional instruments to create the play's sense of violence and chaos." | Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave, Somerville | 866.811.4111 | Through April 5 | 7:30 pm Thurs-Sat | 2 pm Sun | $25-$47 | Carolyn Clay's review page 27

DARK PLAY OR STORIES FOR BOYS | Apollinaire Theatre Company presents the area premiere of Carlos Murillo's work, which debuted at the 2007 Humana Festival for New American Plays. Inspired by real-life events in Manchester, England, it's about a 14-year-old boy who comes across a naively worded Internet ad posted by a 16-year-old boy who wants to fall in love. "Already bored with cyber-sex and posting fake on-line ads, Nick invents the girl of Adam's dreams, Rachel, and Adam and Rachel fall hard." Mayhem ensues. Danielle Fauteux Jacques directs. | Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St, Chelsea | 617.887.2336 | Through March 22 | Curtain 8 pm Fri-Sat | 3 pm Sun | $18 in advance; $20 at the door; $15 student rush

DIRTY DANCING — THE CLASSIC STORY ON STAGE | The Opera House hosts the East Coast premiere of the national tour of the stage show based on the popular 1987 film in which sheltered Jewish teen Baby Houseman shows up at a Catskills resort, circa 1963, and falls for the sexy working-class dance instructor, Johnny Castle. The show replicates as closely as it can the film while heightening the political conscience of the times. It also turns a charming 100-minute movie into a bloated 160-minute extravaganza elaborately accessorized by turntable, lighting, and projections to make it look just like a movie. Never mind: the fans cheer every iconic line and undulation. | Opera House, 539 Washington St, Boston | 617.931.ARTS | Through April 12 | Curtain 7:30 pm Tues-Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 2 + 8 pm Sat | 2 + 7:30 pm Sun | $30-$91; $132.50 premium seating

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