FROM ORCHIDS TO OCTOPI: AN EVOLUTIONARY LOVE STORY | Commissioned by the National Institutes of Health to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species, and presented by Underground Railway Theater’s CatalystCollaborative@MIT, Melinda Lopez’s new work is a combination of Darwinian Sesame Street and clichéd marital soap. The saving grace is David Fichter’s boldly colorful, ever-evolving, Darwin-inspired mural on moving panels. In the play, that’s the mural that contemporary artist Emma (Mrs. Darwin’s given name) is commissioned to create, and she’s blocked as she reads up on Darwin and struggles to translate billions of years of slo-mo evolution into Fichter’s bright jungle of a mural. What’s more, after 10 years of marriage to restaurant chef Charles (you-know-who’s given name), Emma is newly pregnant and given to strange dreams. This opens the door to visitations from Darwin and family. Director Diego Arciniegas keeps the alternately informative and banal carnival moving along, and the performances by the actors (who include Wesley Savick, Kortney Adams, and URT artistic director Debra Wise) in their primary roles are natural enough. But as a play, From Orchids to Octopi is paint-by-numbers — even if, thanks to Fichter, the paint’s at least as impressive as the numbers. | Central Square Theater, 450 Mass Ave, Cambridge | 617.576.9278 | Through May 2 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri-Sat | 2 + 7:30 pm Sun | $35; $25 seniors; $20 students

MAMMALS | Apollinaire Theatre Company presents the East Coast premiere of this work by English playwright Amelia Bulmore that got a decided thumbs-up from the Sunday Times. “Jane and Kev don’t have secrets. They don’t have room for them. Their children take up all the space. But when Kev comes home from a business trip with something to confess, he starts a chain reaction which has shattering consequences. Their weekend guests, wisecracking Phil and glamorous Lorna, are blissfully free of family chaos by contrast. But not being tied down isn't necessarily all fun and games either.” Ted Batch, James Bocock, Becca A. Lewis, Alison Meirowitz, Lorna Nogueira, and Maria Schaedler-Luera star; Danielle Fauteux Jacques directs. | Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St, Chelsea | 617.887.2336 or | Through May 16 | Curtain 8 pm Fri-Sat | 3 pm Sun [May 9, 16] | $25 advance; $30 doors; $20 senior advance; $15 student rush

THE ODD COUPLE | Trinity Rep stalwarts Brian McEleney and Fred Sullivan Jr. get to cut loose as Felix and Oscar in Neil Simon’s eternal comedy of mismatched bachelors who wind up as roommates in a big apartment on Riverside Drive. Trinity artistic director Curt Columbus is at the helm. | Trinity Repertory Company, 201 Washington St, Providence, Rhode Island | 401.351.4242 or | Through May 9 | Curtain 7:30 pm Tues | 2 + 7:30 pm Wed | 7:30 pm Thurs-Fri | 2 + 7:30 pm Sat-Sun

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN | The 2007 musical whose mouthful of an official name is The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein makes its Boston debut, sporting a book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, music and lyrics by Brooks, and choreography by Susan Stroman, who also directs. It’s based, of course, on Brooks’s 1974 film; here Tony Award winner Roger Bart reprises his Broadway role as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, and Rye Mullis plays “The Monster.” | Opera House, 539 Washington St, Boston | 800.982.ARTS | Through May 2 | Curtain 7:30 pm Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 2 + 8 pm Sat | 2 + 7:30 pm Sun | $30-$91

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