Play by Play: January 29, 2010

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  January 27, 2010

THE GOOD NEGRO | Company One presents the Boston premiere of Tracey Scott Wilson's play, which aims to "rip through the pages of history to uncover the human story at the heart of the 1960s American civil-rights movement." It all starts in Birmingham, where Claudette Sullivan takes her daughter into the "whites only" restroom at a department store, and proceeds to death threats from the Ku Klux Klan and wire taps by the FBI. With James L. Dent as James, Cedric Lilly as Rutherford, Jeff Mahoney as Steve, Greg Maraio as Rowe, Marvelyn McFarlane as Claudette, James Milord as Pelzie, Cliff Odle as Henry, Jonathan Overby as Paul, and Kris Sidberry as Corrine; Summer L. Williams directs. | Boston Center for the Arts, Plaza Theatre, 539 Tremont St, Boston | 617.933.8600 | Through February 6 | Curtain 7:30 pm Wed-Thurs | 8 pm Fri-Sat | 2 pm Sun | $30-$38; $30 seniors; $15 students; $18 Wed

GROUNDSWELL | Set in Garnet Lodge, a guesthouse on the remote western coast of South Africa, Ian Bruce's taut, menacing mesh of thriller and reconciliatory politics recalls David Mamet's American Buffalo in its deft depiction of violence trumping humanity when small-timers get in over their entrepreneurial heads in pursuit of a prize — namely, black gardener Thami and ebulliently intimidating handyman and part-time diamond diver Johan, who've marked the hotel's single guest, the apparently prosperous Smith, as the investor who'll enable them to buy a government-subsidized alluvial diamond-mining concession and make their fortunes. Daniel Gidron is at the helm of a Lyric Stage Company of Boston production that neither loosens nor gets careless with its trigger finger. And all three actors field convincing, comprehensible South African accents, with Jason Bowen a fundamentally decent if not scrupulously honest, open-faced Thami, Timothy John Smith's Johan a scary mix of threat and bonhomie, and the excellent Richard McElvain a tweedy milquetoast of a Smith whose savagery, when it comes in bounds and growls, is an eye opener. | 140 Clarendon St, Boston | 617.585.5678 | Through January 30 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 3 + 8 pm Sat | $25-$54

HARRIET JACOBS | Underground Railway Theater and the Providence Black Repertory Company present Lydia R. Diamond's new adaptation of Harriet Jacobs's autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, the main incident being her hiding out in her grandmother's attic for seven years to escape her master's sexual advances. After escaping from North Carolina, she ran a boarding house for Harvard students; she's buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery. The cast includes Kortney Adams, Ramona Alexander, Sheldon Best, De'Lon Grant, Mishell Lilly, Raidge, Obehi Janice, and Kami Smith; former PBRC associate director Megan Sandberg-Zakian is at the helm. | Central Square Theater, 450 Mass Ave, Cambridge | 866.811.4111 | Through January 31 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 2 + 8 pm Sat | 2 pm Sun | $35; $25 seniors; $20 students

I AM HAMLET | Brian Morey, "international performing artist and NYU Tisch School graduate," plays Hamlet, Horatio, King Claudius, Ophelia, Polonius, and gravedigger Derroch Death in this one-man show with musical score (which he composed) that's "written" (didn't the Bard write it?) and directed by Joe Siracusa and includes "a series of quick magic-trick costume changes." | Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Black Box Theatre, 539 Tremont St, Boston || Through January 31 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri-Sat | 2 pm Sun | $20

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