The Foreigner — See review.
The Merry Wives of Windsor — Shakespeare's story about a fat knight who, in a dire financial situation, decides to woo two wealthy married women. When they figure out his plan and determine that an overweight knight isn't the best candidate for an affair, they use the situation for their amusement. Hilarity ensues. Playing in rep with Titus Andronicus, through August 8 at various outdoor sites. Visit cleveshakes.org for schedule.
Romance — Not exactly for the faint of heart, this raucous one-act features all of David Mamet's trademark vulgarity, plus a load of racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-everything insults, along with some serious cocaine use. But the result is a dark comedy that's tighter than Snooki's tube top, thanks to a stellar cast. Opening in a courtroom where the Defendant, a chiropractor, is being grilled by a rabid Prosecuting Attorney (most characters have titles, not names), the case at hand is much less important than the process. And according to Mamet, the judicial process is a surreal and arbitrary clown show, overseen by a drug-addled Judge from hell. (Howey) Presented by None Too Fragile Theatre through August 7 at 2125 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls. Tickets are $17 or pay what you can. Call 330-962-5547 for more info.
Sweeney Todd — This bloody and brooding venture into the mind of a mad barber in the bowels of London is like being handed a cup of three-day-old coffee grounds and lemon peels. But an engrossing score by Stephen Sondheim lifts it out of the muck, and the book by Hugh Wheeler spins plenty of thrills. In this production, the singers give Sondheim's muscular music its due under the musical direction of Jodie Ricci, with some stellar work by the featured players. Unfortunately, an acting void at the center and volume issues tend to soften scenes that should gleam and glisten. (Howey) Through July 27 at Cain Park, corner of Lee and Superior roads, Cleveland Heights. Tickets are $15-$24. Call 216-371-3000 or visit cainpark.com.
Titus Andronicus — Shakespeare's first play, Titus is pretty much a nonstop orgy of sex and violence, with multiple revenge plots being eagerly pursued in the bloody streets of ancient Rome. Staged for free by the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival at outdoor venues throughout the area, the play offers some gripping moments, but the overall impact is weakened somewhat by excessive surface intensity and a paucity of nuance in some scenes. Under the inventive and adept direction of Allan Byrne, CleveShakes does a creditable job given a nickel and dime (make that two nickels) budget and some young actors. Festival veteran Allen Branstein gives his all as the deeply conflicted Titus. Though he never quite latches onto the music and flow of Will's words, he conveys this man's strength and his deep need for payback. Squeezed into a bit over an hour and a half, the production tends to rush some scenes that deserve more time. (Howey) Playing in rep with The Merry Wives of Windsor, through August 7 at various outdoor sites. Visit cleveshakes.org for schedule.
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