Play by play: November 6, 2009

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  November 4, 2009

SLEEP NO MORE | The second entry in the American Repertory Theater’s mini-season of revisionist Shakespeare is the least orthodox production of Macbeth you’re likely to see. It’s presented by the London troupe Punchdrunk at the Old Lincoln School in Brookline Village; entering as part of a group, you’re handed a white mask and invited to explore the four floors of the environment in any way you choose. The mood is set by World War II ballads and Bernard Herrmann’s music from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (which feels ’40s-era even though it was written for a 1958 movie), and by the dim lighting and the creepy venue. Everyone’s experience will be different; ours included the banquet in the school auditorium, a strobe-lit Black Sabbath in the basement, a stroll through Birnam Wood, and an unsettling version of Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene where she’s attended by a nurse in a hospital ward. | Old Lincoln School, 194 Boylston St, Brookline Village | 617.547.8300 | Through January 3 | Curtain 7 + 7:20 + 7:40 pm Tues-Thurs + Sun | 7:20 + 7:40 + 8 pm Fri-Sat | $35-$39

THE SPARROW | This Stoneham Theatre entry from Nathan Allen, Chris Mathews, and Jake Minton is not another Edith Piaf bio-drama but rather a story of teens and telekinesis, with orphan Emily Book returning to the town she grew up in for her final year of high school — only it seems she’s not the same girl she was when she left. Allen himself directs. | Stoneham Theatre, 395 Main St, Boston | 617.279.2200 | Through November 8 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 4 + 8 pm Sat | 2 pm Sun | $38-$44; $34-$40 seniors; $20 students

SPEED-THE-PLOW | David Mamet’s scathing, staccato comedy has held up at least as well as Madonna, who made her Broadway debut in the original 1988 production. And in Robert Walsh’s jumpy revival for New Repertory Theatre (at the Arsenal Center for the Arts through November 7), greed and testosterone flow from a single spigot, as Bobby Gould, the head of production for an unnamed movie studio, first bets hanger-on Charlie Fox he can bed the attractive temp who’s brought them coffee and then falls for the secretary’s enthusiasm and starts yearning “to do something which is right.” Aimee Doherty’s Karen doesn’t fade into the role, but I’d like to have seen some calculating ambition tucked in amid the starry eyes and the cleavage. Robert Pemberton’s Gould is a smug, not unsympathetic teddy-bear king of the mountain, particularly effective when patiently, predatorily indulging Karen. But as the more desperate Fox, Gabriel Kuttner presents less a crass, nervous flunky than a passive-aggressive, almost vampiric one. | Arsenal Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal St, Watertown | 617.923.8487 | Through November 7 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 3:30 + 8 pm Sat | $35-$54

A TALE OF TWO CITIES | Wheelock Family Theatre stages this Dwayne Hartford adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic about the French Revolution and the “far, far better thing” than Sydney Carton had ever done before. Susan Kosoff directs. | Wheelock Family Theatre, 200 the Riverway, Boston | 617.879.2300 | Through November 29 | Curtain 7:30 pm Fri | 3 pm Sat-Sun | $15-$25

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