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AFTER THE QUAKE | Company One presents Tony-winning adapter (for The Grapes of Wrath, in 1990) and director Frank Galati's play, which is adapted from two stories — "Honey Pie" and "Superfrog Saves Tokyo" — from Haruki Murakami's After the Quake, a collection set in Japan in 1995 between the Kobe earthquake and the poison-gas attacks in the Tokyo subway. In Galati's fusion, Junpei, the struggling novelist still yearning for the woman who married his more confident college chum and wrapping that love into the comfort he offers her quake-freaked child, becomes the author of the fantastical tale of the debt collector galvanized by the ninja amphibian to heroic action, if only in his dreams. Thus the actor who plays Frog narrates the tale of the writer as the writer narrates his. And as the ribbiting Rambo, Michael Tow, squatting and darting in green-streaked leather jacket and verdant rubber gloves, is a combination superhero and authorial stand-in, as likely to quote Nietzsche or Conrad as to gild a lily pad. Shawn LaCount directs a production that only occasionally crosses the line between punchy surrealism and cartoon | Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Theatre, 539 Tremont St, Boston | 617.933.8600 | Through August 15 | Curtain 7:30 pm Wed-Thurs | 8 pm Fri-Sat | 2 pm Sun | $30-$38; $30 seniors; $15 students; $18 Wed; pay-what-you-can [minimum $6] Sun

AURELIA'S ORATORIO | The cirque nouveau pioneer and Charlie Chaplin's daughter, Victoria Thierrée Chaplin, directs her daughter, Aurélia Thierrée, in a 70-minute dream scenario that has its rough-hewn and magical sequences, among them an opener in which Thierrée emerges limb by lissome limb from a chest of drawers. At its best, the show recalls the ones on which Thierrée cut her teeth, her parents' (dad is French clown Jean-Baptiste Thierrée) Le Cirque Imaginaire and Le Cirque Invisible. But the performer (who is abetted by dancer Jaime Martinez) lacks her mother's prodigious circus skills, and it is the most imaginative of the illusions that stick with you in this whimsical offering for the whole family. | Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St, Cambridge | Through August 2 | 617.547.8300 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri-Sat | 3 + 7:30 pm Sun | $25-$75; 10 percent discount seniors

THE BREATH OF LIFE | Gloucester Stage artistic director Eric C. Engel helms this 2002 David Hare play about two women who once shared the same man and are now trying to reconcile. Local luminaries Nancy E. Carroll and Paula Plum play the roles originated by Judi Dench and Maggie Smith at the Theatre Royal in London. | Gloucester Stage Company, 267 East Main St, Gloucester | 978.281.4433 | Through August 2 | Curtain 8 pm Thurs-Fri | 3 + 8 pm Sat | 4 pm Sun | $32-$37

CANDIDE | Leonard Bernstein's 1956 "comic operetta" based on the Voltaire novella comes to the Berkshires, complete with the famous Overture, the "Glitter and Be Gay" coloratura aria for Cunégonde, and, of course, "Make Our Garden Grow." The original libretto was by Lillian Hellman, but it's since been replaced by a book by Hugh Wheeler; Richard Wilbur, Dorothy Parker, Stephen Sondheim, and Bernstein himself contributed to the text. | Berkshire Theatre Festival Unicorn Theatre, Main St, Stockbridge | 413.298.5576 | Through August 15 | Curtain 8 pm Mon-Tues | 7 pm Wed | 2 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 2 + 8 pm Sat | $19.28-$68

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Related: Play by play: July 24, 2009, Play by Play: August 7, 2009, Year in Theater: Staged right, More more >
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