On Stage This Week

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St. Nicholas at Ensemble Theatre:

Vampires of London

Who's the worse monster: The vampire who sucks your blood or the theater critic who sucks your creative juices? That's the central metaphor in St. Nicholas, a funny, poignant one-man monologue by Irish playwright Conor McPherson. Directed by the ever-in-demand Sarah May and starring Dana Hart, the 1998 play opens at Ensemble Theatre on Friday, November 18, fresh from its Off Broadway revival. The calendar notwithstanding, this is no cheery Christmas extravaganza. It's more like a scary bedtime story for grown-ups, relayed by a master raconteur: a 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 vamps. Can self-hatred become an art form? Can hope transcend time? Can the critic ever find a story of his own? Find out Fridays through Sundays through December 11. Ensemble Theatre is at 2843 Washington Blvd. in Cleveland Heights. Tickets are $10 to $20. Get them by phone at 216-321-2930 or online at ensemble-theatre.org. — Elaine T. Cicora

La Cage Aux Folles: (See the full review in this week's issue.) Much has changed since this 1984 musical about Georges and Albin's gay relationship first titillated audiences. Still, its lighthearted focus on love, marriage, and tolerance keeps the story relevant and entertaining. The touring production, starring George Hamilton, is part of Playhouse Square's Broadway series. Performances continue through Nov. 20 at the Palace Theatre, 1615 Euclid Ave. Tickets are $10 to $75; get them by calling 216-241-6000 or online at playhousesquare.com.

Race: Beck Center for the Arts presents a regional premiere of this new drama by David Mamet that explores perceptions of race from black and white perspectives. The Beck production, directed by the estimable Sarah May (see also: St. Nicholas at Ensemble Theatre, above), often crackles with dramatic turns that are carved out of razor-sharp beats. But for all its undeniable fireworks, Mamet's script is bookended by a less-than-credible opening and a fairly gutless conclusion. (Howey) Performances continue through Nov. 20 at 17801 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood. Tickets are $17 to $28 at 216-521-2540 or at beckcenter.org.

The Shadow Box: Three patients diagnosed with terminal illnesses confront the ultimate human challenge as they struggle with their mortality and its effect on their loved ones. Performances continue through Nov. 20 in Karamu's Arena Theatre, 2355 East 89th St. Tickets are $10 to $25 at 216-795-7070 or karamuhouse.org.

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