PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE | It's 1904 in a bohemian bar in Montmartre, where the young, unknown Albert Einstein, on the verge of his Special Theory of Relativity, and the young, barely known Pablo Picasso, daubing toward Les demoiselles d'Avignon, come across each other and get to jawing about the similar leaps of imagination that open new frontiers in art and science. Daniel Gidron directs this New Repertory Theatre staging of Steve Martin's droll if facile 1993 rumination on creativity, and the company bats the lightweight, self-reflexive comedy around with aplomb on Cristina Todesco's very Parisian barroom set backed by an "ovine pastoral" at which most everyone gets a cheap shot. Frances Nelson McSherry's costumes hover between Belle Époque opulence and cartoon, and the visual surprises are well handled. Among the generally deft actors, Neil A. Casey makes a giddy Einstein, and Scott Sweatt, if he fails to convey the young bull in Picasso, is intense. Particularly frisky support is supplied by Paul D. Farwell as "newly old" tavern regular Gaston and Marianna Bassham as freewheeling barmaid and male-bullshit detector Germaine. | Arsenal Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal St, Watertown | 617.923.8487 | Through May 10 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 3:30 + 8 pm Sat | 2 pm Sun | $35-$55; $7 discount seniors; $13 student rush

SHAPESHIFTER | Laura Kepley directs this Trinity Repertory Company world premiere of a new work by Laura Schellhardt. Storytelling is what sets off this "lyrical play about our hunger to change the ones we love and to change ourselves for them." | Trinity Repertory Company, 201 Washington St, Providence, Rhode Island | 401.351.4242 | Through May 31 | Curtain 7:30 pm Tues-Fri + 2 pm [May 20] Wed | 2 pm [May 9, 16] + 7:30 pm Sat | 2 + 7:30 pm Sun | $20-$60

SPRING AWAKENING | Peek into German playwright's Frank Wedekind's 1891 first work and you find not just surrealism and teen spirit but sado-masochism, rape, abortion, homo-eroticism, and an on-stage circle jerk. It's no wonder the thing wasn't put on uncensored for 75 years! Times have changed, and in the wake of the success of the Tony-winning rock musical, Zeitgeist Stage Company is producing the original, with an age-appropriate cast as the gaggle of hormonal 14-year-olds in a repressed German hamlet. The 27-year-old playwright is obviously on the side of the kids, most of whom are under tremendous academic pressure, kept ridiculously in the dark about sex, and regarded as suspicious loiterers at the crossroads of degeneracy and "the moral order." Zeitgeist artistic director David J. Miller helms a feverish production, and the teen actors prove adept. That said, the play is somewhat lumbering and sloppily constructed, and the final scene, set in a graveyard, suggests the dramaturgical love child of Our Town and Dawn of the Dead. | Boston Center for the Arts Plaza, 539 Tremont St, Boston | 617.933.8600 | Through May 9 | Curtain 8 pm Thurs-Fri | 3 + 8 pm Sat | $35; $25 students, seniors

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Related: Play by play: May 29, 2009, 2009: The year in theater, American dreams, More more >
  Topics: Theater , Entertainment, David Bowie, Boston College,  More more >
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