There Is a Happiness That Morning Is
Cleveland Public Theatre
If you were told a play involved the aftereffects of a public sex act between two college profs, told in rhyming verse, and that the production is intellectually stimulating, rude and hilarious in equal parts, you might be tempted. And you'd be right. There Is a Happiness That Morning Is, now at Cleveland Public Theatre, is a theatrical experience not to be missed. As Bernard, Brian Pedaci creates a gushy, drooling love addict who is a perfect foil for the more uptight and rational Ellen. And in the immensely challenging role of Ellen, Derdriu Ring masterfully manages her cascading couplets, revealing more about her character even as she lashes out with spiteful edge at the forces that torment her. Matthew Wright appears as the college president comes perilously close to tipping over the thematic applecart, since he is so spontaneously and convulsively amusing, But thanks to the firm hand of director Beth Wood, and Todd Krispinsky's inspired Eden-like classroom set design, this engrossing play proves positively orgasmic from beginning to end.
Through May 25 at Cleveland Public Theatre, 6415 Detroit Avenue, 216-631-2727
Working, the Musical
Blank Canvas Theatre
Most of us spend most of our lives working, and then complaining about that work. But deep down, there are satisfactions and rewards to be found in even the most mundane jobs. At least, that's the theory behind this show, adapted from the Studs Terkel book. Here' a six-person cast under the compassionate direction of Patrick Ciamacco present more than two dozen distinctive people in different jobs, from hooker to CEO. The songs, by a variety of composers, vary in quality but are often quite touching. And the words, taken directly from interviews with real people, pulse with genuine emotion. However, some questionable costume choices and a multilevel set platform that impedes free movement give the actors additional challenges to overcome.
Through May 18 at the Blank Canvas Theatre, 78th Street Studios, 1305 West 80th St., 440-941-0458
The backbone of at least half of all theatrical productions is the American-style dysfunctional family, a fetid trough where playwrights greedily feed to fuel both comedies and tragedies. But the dysfunctions don't often come with the level of dark humor and wicked bite that's displayed in The Lyons, now at Dobama Theatre. Written by Nicky Silver, this play plops us down in the hospital room of a man dying of cancer and forces us to laugh at him and his whole nuclear bomb of a family. While often uproariously funny, the script feels a bit long and overwritten in places. The talented, cast under Nathan Motta's crisp direction, makes some missteps but mostly papers over the show's minor glitches.
Through May 19 at Dobama Theatre, 2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-932-3396