PRIVATE FEARS IN PUBLIC PLACES | Alan Ayckbourn's London-set tragicomedy from 2004 is all about how difficult it is to know another person. Stewart, an aging real-estate agent, borrows a tape of a religious program from his conservative secretary, Charlotte, but once the show ends, the static transforms into home-brewed porn starring his co-worker. Ex-soldier Dan and his fiancée, Nicola, enlist Stewart's help in finding an apartment together, only to realize they can't stand each other. After a series of secret and unsuccessful blind dates, Stewart's live-in sister, Imogen, runs into Dan. Closeted homosexual bartender Ambrose oversees all of the above, ready with advice and a cup of cheer for the lingering lonelyhearts but unable to clean up the messes in his own life. In the New England premiere production now up from Zeitgeist Stage, David J. Miller's direction and scenic design emphasize the play's connectivity, as scenes unfold right on top of one another. The thrust stage means that the audience sees the actors' backs as often as their faces — which underlines what we don't know about one another. And though all six actors sink into their characters' personal shame and loneliness, Becca A. Lewis's Charlotte sparkles the brightest with her bipolar balance between religious zeal and well-masked porn-star proclivities. | Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Black Box Theatre, 539 Tremont St, Boston | 617.933.8600| Through March 6 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 4 + 8 pm Sat | $30; $20 students, seniors

RENT | Given that Boston Conservatory Theatre is "squatting" in Fort Point this year while its Hemenway Street theater building gets expanded and renovated, Jonathan Larson's Tony-winning take on La bohème seems an apt choice. SpeakEasy producing artistic director (and Boston Conservatory faculty member) Paul Daigneault is at the helm, with musical direction by José Delgado and choreography by Michelle Chassé. | Midway Studios, 15 Channel Center St, Boston | 617.912.9222| Through March 7 | Curtain 8 pm Thurs-Fri | 2 + 8 pm Sat | 2 pm Sun | $22; $12 seniors; $7 students

STICK FLY | "Sparks fly and long-hidden secrets tumble into the open when the LeVay brothers bring their new girlfriends home to Martha's Vineyard's world of privilege. This smart, moving, and funny portrait of a complex African-American family from acclaimed Huntington Playwriting Fellow Lydia R. Diamond (Voyeurs de Venus, The Bluest Eye) is an of-the-moment look at sibling rivalry and the weight of parental expectations." Kenny Leon directs this Huntington Theatre Company production; the cast includes Billy Eugene Jones as elder son Flip LeVay, Rosie Benton as Kimber, Flip's Caucasian girlfriend, Jason Dirden as younger son Kent, Nikkole Salter as Taylor, Kent's girlfriend, Amber Iman as Cheryl, the daughter of the family's maid, and Wendell W. Wright as "renowned neurosurgeon" and family patriarch Joe LeVay. | Boston Center for the Arts, Calderwood Pavilion, Virginia Wimberly Theatre, 527 Tremont St, Boston | 617.266.0800 | Through March 21 | Curtain 7:30 pm Tues [March 16] | 2 pm [March 10] + 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 2 + 8 pm Sat | 2 + 7 pm [evening March 14] Sun | $50-$60; $45-$55 seniors; $15 student rush; $20 last row orchestra

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