Play by Play: January 29, 2010

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  January 27, 2010

BREAD AND PUPPET THEATER | The venerable political troupe headed by Peter Schumann and featuring giant papier mâché puppets comes to town with its "sourdough philosophy spectacle and circus." The Boston Center for the Arts presents the engagement, which includes performances, an art exhibit, and a "cheap art sale," as part of its Cyclorama Residency Series. Topping the bill is the adult-oriented show, Tear Open the Door of Heaven, which, we're told, "is a pink-and-blue puppet show about Heaven and its effects on the Underneath, presented by the practitioners of the brand-new papier mâché religion. The play features over-life-size puppets representing God, his daughter and stepdaughter, a US president and his war-waging office, mountaintop-removal protesters, money-printing artists, and stargazers of the North East Kingdom of Vermont." The family-oriented Dirt Cheap Money Circus "features the billionaire bonus celebration dance, the logic of the US health-care system, the history of humanity and the removal of a mountaintop — all of it interspersed with appearances by Karl Marx, who confronts the 2010 economic situation with his existential thoughts about money and our relationship to it." There's also a virtual-art installation created by Schumann. | BCA Cyclorama, 527 Tremont St, Boston | 866.811.4111 | Through January 31 | Curtain Tear Open the Door of Heaven 7 pm Thurs-Sun | $12; $10 students, seniors | Curtain Dirt Cheap Money Circus 4 pm Sat-Sun | $10; $5 students, seniors; free children under 2 | Art exhibit free

FABULOSO | John Kolvenbach's play is about what happens to a vaguely disappointing marriage when a couple of maniacs show up at the door insisting they're family. Once the light dawns that this wild ride is in fact a comic metaphor for the bedlam that comes with having children, the play seems both clever and rather sweet. It got its world premiere from Wellfleet Harbor Actors' Theater last year; now it turns up at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, with Jeremiah Wiggins and Rebecca Harris as Teddy and Kate, the couple in the one-bedroom apartment, and Ed Jewett and Amy Kim Waschke as Arthur and Samantha; Kyle Fabel directs. | Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 132 Warren St, Lowell | 978.654.4MRT | Through January 31 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 4 + 8 pm Sat | 2 pm Sun | $26-$56

GATZ | At the beginning of New York–based Elevator Repair Service's six-and-a-half-hour theater piece, which is performed in two parts, a mid-level employee enters with dossier and coffee, tries unsuccessfully to resuscitate his aged computer, and discovers a dog-eared copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald's iconic 1925 novel The Great Gatsby stuffed into his Rolodex. He starts to read aloud from the found text, tentatively at first, as the low-rent workplace's somewhat Sisyphean business continues its desultory course. Suddenly, a female co-worker is reading over our Nick Carraway stand-in's shoulder, lip-synching the gruff dialogue of Tom Buchanan. And gradually the sparkling, aching business of the novel intrudes on, and then takes over, the mundane business of the office in a spellbinding narrative marathon that is about both the power of prose and the quixotic, ephemeral, even alienating nature of performance. We may not get jazz orchestras playing on the sloping lawns of lit-up Long Island mansions or languid lovelies in floating white dresses. But we do get, read aloud, every rueful, gorgeous phrase Fitzgerald wrote, as well as a deliberately lackluster mirror of some of his themes. And in the tenacious commitment of Scott Shepherd's Nick to the text, even amid the raucous chaos of a Manhattan-afternoon debauch (here enacted amid flung folders and liquor bottles unearthed from metal file cabinets), there is a hint of Fitzgerald's somehow getting the artistic job done at the center of his own personal storm of spendthrift decadence, alcoholic excess, and "careless people." | Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St, Cambridge | 617.547.8300 | Through February 7 | Curtain 7:30 pm Tues [P1] + Wed [P2] + Thurs [January 28: P2] | 3 pm [P1] + 7:30 pm [P2] Fri-Sun | $25-$75; $15-$65 seniors; $20 student rush

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