NOT ENOUGH AIR | Local playwright Masha Obolensky's drama about how journalist Sophie Treadwell came to write her 1928 play Machinal — a fictionalized version of the life, trial, and execution of Queens housewife Ruth Snyder, who was convicted of murdering her husband — is sharper in its conception than in its development. Haunted by the "why" of the crime, Treadwell reimagined it in Machinal, whose protagonist, Young Woman, is driven to madness and murder by male control and the screeching mechanization of modern life. Obolensky takes Treadwell, Snyder, and Young Woman and puts them into a pressure cooker together, then sets the pot over the fire of Treadwell's obsessive imagination. In Nora Theatre Company's New England–premiere production, as directed by Melia Bensussen, it all unfolds in the shadowy, file-cabinet-cluttered region of Treadwell's mind, where, in the keen, compassionate person of Anne Gottlieb, the writer is torn between marital pressures and the pull of creation represented by Snyder (Ruby Rose Fox's vulnerable fireplug of a flapper) and Young Woman, who's played by Mariana Bassham with a mix of playful seductiveness and badgering tyranny that would do any Muse proud. | Central Square Theater, 450 Mass Ave, Cambridge | 866.811.4111| Through March 14 | Curtain 7:30 pm Wed-Thurs | 8 pm Fri-Sat | 2 pm Sun | $35; $25 seniors; $20 students

PARADISE LOST | The American Repertory Theater's "America: Boom, Bust and Baseball" season, which began with Gatz, continues with Clifford Odets's 1935 meditation on the Depression, a play in which the Gordon family find their faith in America tested as Leo Gordon and his partner Sam Katz lose their handbag business. With David Chandler as Leo, Sally Wingert as his wife, Clara, Hale Appleman as their son, Ben, Jonathan Epstein as Sam, Thomas Derrah as the Gordons' friend Gus, and Merritt Janson as Gus's daughter Libby; Daniel Fish directs. | Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St, Cambridge | 617.547.8300| Through March 20 | Curtain 7:30 pm Tues-Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 2 + 8 pm Sat | 2 + 7:30 pm Sun | $25-$75

PHANTOM OF THE OPRAH | That title has Ryan Landry and the Gold Dust Orphans written all over it, so you won't be surprised to learn that the mighty Afrodite stars as "The Phantom" and the "internationally known singing sensation Miss Varla Jean Merman" plays Christine — unless you were expecting it to be the other way around. Elements of "burlesque, vaudeville, silent movies, Broadway musicals, rock operas, and television" are promised, along with original music, long-lost rock anthems and some very popular standards." Book and lyrics are by, yes, Ryan Landry; Larry Coen directs. | Machine, 1254-1256 Boylston St, Boston || Through March 28 | Curtain 8 pm Fri-Sat | 5 pm Sun | $35-$45

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