On Stage 

Theater offerings this week

Dobama presents The Seafarer:

A Devil of a Christmas Tale

Dobama Theatre continues its 52nd season with The Seafarer, a funny, chilling, heart-wrenching work by award-winning Irish playwright Conor McPherson. (McPherson, incidentally, also wrote St. Nicholas, now playing at Ensemble Theatre). The play debuted in London in 2006, then garnered multiple Tony Award nominations during its 2008 Broadway run. The action takes place on Christmas Eve in the home of two aging bachelor brothers: one blind and on a bender, the other jobless and on the wagon. When a mysterious stranger drives their booze-soaked poker game to the highest stakes possible, you just know that Irish-style weirdness is in the cards. Directed for Dobama by Scott Miller, performances continue through December 18 at 2340 Lee Rd. in Cleveland Heights. Tickets are $10 to $26. Get them at 216-932-3396 or online at dobama.org. — Elaine T. Cicora

A Christmas Carol: Former artistic director Gerald Freedman's evergreen adaptation of A Christmas Carol returns to Great Lakes Theater for its 23rd year. Besides gently tinkering with the plot, GLT pulls out all stops on special effects, including a scary, amped-up version of Marley's ghost. Yet it all comes down to Scrooge and his remarkable transformation. In that role, you'll find able actor Aled Davies, returning for his fourth season. Performances continue through December 23 at the Hanna Theatre, 2067 East 14th St. at Playhouse Square. Tickets are $26 to $60 at 216-241-6000 or online at greatlakestheater.org.

Black Nativity: A soulful retelling of the Gospel of St. Luke from an African-American perspective, this passionate piece of family theater was written by Karamu's most celebrated alumnus, Langston Hughes. Performances are set for December 9 through 30 at Karamu House, 2355 East 89th St. Tickets are $10 to $30; for more information, call 216-795-7077 or go to karamuhouse.org.

Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant: Home for the Hollandaise: Putting a whole new spin on the "dinner theater" notion, Cleveland Public Theatre brings back this hilarious piece of devised entertainment, complete with a five-course dinner prepared and served by a cast of zany characters. Performances continue through December 18 at 6415 Detroit Ave. Your $60 ticket includes dinner, beverages, and unlimited visits to the laugh buffet. Make reservations by phone at 216-631-2727 or visit cptonline.org.

The Game's Afoot (or Holmes for the Holidays): Cleveland Play House presents a world premiere by award-winning playwright Ken Ludwig. A sprightly murder mystery/comedy, the action takes place in a Connecticut mansion on Christmas Eve, where murder — and hilarity — ensue. See the full review in this issue. Performances continue through December 24 at the Allen Theatre, 1407 Euclid Ave. at Playhouse Square. Tickets are $49 to $69, available at 216-241-6000 or at clevelandplayhouse.com.

The Internationalist: Convergence-Continuum completes its 2011 season with Anne Washburn's dark and muddled comedy for the age of globalization. Unfortunately, "if Washburn has something interesting to say ... it goes unsaid here," according to our house critic, Christine Howey. Performances continue through December 17 at the Liminis, 2438 Scranton Rd. in Tremont. Tickets are $10 to $15 and are available at 216-687-0074 or convergence-continuum.org.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: A box-office smash during its 2010 run, Joseph and its cast of singing, dancing biblical characters are back at Beck Center through December 31. Artistic director Scott Spence shares the helm with choreographer Martin Cespedes. Tickets are $10 to $28 at 216-521-2540 or online at beckcenter.org. The Beck is at 17801 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood.

The Santaland Diaries: Cleveland Public Theatre once again presents author David Sedaris' funny tale of Santa's most beleaguered department-store elf. Performances continue through December 17 at the 14th Street Theatre, 2037 East 14th St. at Playhouse Square. Tickets are $20 to $30 at 216-241-6000 or online at cptonline.org.

St. Nicholas: The calendar notwithstanding, this one-man show from 1998 is no cheery Christmas extravaganza. It's more like a scary bedtime story for grown-ups, relayed by a master raconteur: the tale of a tired, self-loathing Irish critic who abandons his family and follows a beautiful young dancer to London, only to fall under the spell of a crew of vampires. Through December 11 at Ensemble Theatre, 2843 Washington Blvd. in Cleveland Heights. Tickets are $10 to $20 at 216-321-2930 or online at ensemble-theatre.org.

Trying: Cesear's Forum concludes 2011 with Joanna McClelland Glass' two-person drama set in 1967. A portrait of the growing relationship between a cantankerous old judge and his fresh-faced secretary, Trying reveals the ways in which two people, at radically different stages in their lives, can affect each other deeply and forever. Performances continue through December 10 at Kennedy's Down Under, 1501 Euclid Ave. at Playhouse Square. Tickets are $15 at 216-241-6000 or playhousesquare.org.

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