Also on Stage 

Exact Change

Cleveland Public Theatre

Christine Howey reveals an astonishing escape act in her remarkable one-woman show, Exact Change, about a woman born in a man's body, and the harrowing move from one gender to another is a soul-wrenching act of healing.

Now playing at Cleveland Public Theatre in the intimate James A. Levin Theatre, it is a must-see play for Cleveland theatre-goers. Written by Howey and directed by veteran actor, teacher and director Scott Plate, Exact Change takes us inside the journey of Ms. Howey as she riffs and howls and rages and pokes God in the eye to the rhythm of life's little joke.

With a clear and nuanced voice built for the theater, her story emerges, heartbreaking and deeply moving, from a tangled web of terror and confusion. We come to see her ultimate sex change operation as a great healing. She teaches us compassion with the gentlest of touches.

This production brings together a wildly creative team, including Scott Plate as director, Jeff Hermann as set designer, and lighting design by Ben Gantose, saucily mixed with the insightful, mysterious jazz of Danny English and Esther Haberlen's ironic and feminine costumes. — Tom Fulton

Through Jan. 25, 6415 Detroit Ave.,

216-631-2727, cptonline.org.

The Aliens

Dobama Theatre

If two fairly inert men occupying a space with garbage cans causes you to think of Beckett's Waiting for Godot, that's entirely understandable. But in the play The Aliens by Annie Baker, opening this Friday at Dobama Theatre, the men are contemporary slackers and the little world they inhabit is near the trashcans behind a coffee house.

Set in a small town in Vermont, KJ and Jasper are two scruffy-bearded dudes who lounge on the ratty picnic table and share their thoughts about their lives. One is a college dropout and the other is working on a first novel. They were both in a band that never actually had a name, and apparently they sing some of the band's original songs along the way.

Called "a gentle and extraordinarily beautiful play" by New York Times critic Charles Isherwood, The Aliens presents this little patch of dirt and detritus as a clubhouse of sorts, where the two guys hang out.

These two interact with a third character, a nerdy high school kid named Evan who is a newbie working at the coffee shop. As he drags out the garbage bags to the back, he chats up the two older guys and a relationship of sorts develops.

Directed by Nathan Motta, creative director of Dobama, the play explores the feelings of people who are considered, by themselves and others, as outsiders. (And who doesn't feel like that, from time to time?)

— Christine Howey

Runs Jan. 24 to Feb. 23, 2340 Lee Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-932-3396,

dobama.org.

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