Center Stage

The latest curtain-risings in theater and dance

From Sci-Fi Spoof to Psychodrama, ‘Acting Out’ Delivers a Bold Bill of New One-Acts

There is nothing in theater quite like an evening of one-acts. If the plays are right you get a greatest-hits effect, a sampling of tightly honed short pieces in different styles and moods.

That’s what the Pittsburgh Pride Theater Festival is going for with this year’s offering: two comedies plus two dramas, all of them new works by various playwrights. They are packaged into an under-two-hour show called Acting Out, which runs from June 5-13 downtown. And yes, the show’s title

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PICT’s ‘Blithe Spirit’ Wakes the Ghost of Humor Past

The nights belong to the living dead when Elvira (Vera Varlamov, center) comes back from the grave to wrap her mitts once more around Charles (Dan Rodden) while squeezing out his current squeeze, Ruth (Daina Michelle Griffith).

If you enjoy plays that evoke the spirits of bygone ages and stages, then PICT Classic Theatre—formerly Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre—is the company for you. Although PICT does some contemporary pieces, it specializes in throwbacks, the many works that either were written

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Quantum’s ‘Pantagleize’ Is Seriously Entertaining

The Prezidente (Tony Bingham) asserts his dominance by using an underling (Max Pavel) as furniture, but cold-eyed rebel Rachel (Lisa Ann Goldsmith) isn’t floored.

It’s not easy to do wacky physical comedy about a dead-serious subject. And when the time comes for theater reviewers to give informal recognition for Best This and That of the current season, Quantum Theatre’s Pantagleize will be on my list for several awards.

One would be Best High Five Seen Anywhere. If you are a fan

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Why ‘Tribes’ Might Be the Play of the Year

How good a play is Tribes? To answer properly, I’d have to be all thumbs. Then I could give it ten thumbs up.

Or nine, anyway. Maybe it falls a bit short of perfection. The point is that multiples and superlatives are needed to describe this play by Nina Raine, currently at City Theatre, because it is such an abundant play.

When Billy (Tad Cooley) meets Sylvia (Amanda Kearns), the wheels of love begin to spin—along with the pinwheels of crazy

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‘Madagascar’ at Quantum: a Midwinter’s Tale of a Strange Fall

June (Melinda Helfrich, foreground) wants to move forward but she is obsessed with the past, where Nathan (Larry John Meyers) and Lilian (Helena Ruoti) are frozen by the choices they’ve made or failed to make.

One of the oldest themes in drama is the downfall of a great family. In such ancient Greek plays as the Oresteian Trilogy, or in Shakespeare’s King Lear, it is a royal family that comes to grief. In J.T. Rogers’s Madagascar—now being performed by Quantum

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Out of the Mists, a Forgotten Sherlock: PICT’s ‘Crucifer of Blood’

This Sherlock (David Whalen) is doing it the proper Victorian way, with an optical scanning device circa the 1880s, and Dr. Watson (Justin R. G. Holcomb) approves.

In this play, before the action begins or a word is spoken, fog rolls in silently. Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre has turned on the fog machine, which serves as a way-back machine. As mists envelop the still-dark stage, it is a sign that we are going back in time. The Crucifer of

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Life on the Edge: the Truth about ‘True West’

The family that drinks together, thinks together. At least that’s what Austin (Ken Barnett, left) and big brother Lee (David Mogentale) hope will happen.

If you have never seen True West, I will try to tell you what you’ve been missing. It won’t be easy. This play by Sam Shepard, now at Pittsburgh Public Theater, is sneaky simple.

The basic story is so simple that anybody who watches sitcoms can get a hoot out of it. We begin with a standard

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‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’: How Chekhov Gets What He Deserves

Take that, you intellectual Russophiles! Spike (Karl Glusman) does the un-Chekhovian loose booty for Sonia (Sheila McKenna) and Vanya (Harry Bouvy).

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, now at City Theatre, is the 2013 Tony Award winner for Best Play. Yet I’ve talked to people who are hesitant to see it, due to what one friend called “the Chekhov factor.” Allow me to ease their concerns.

The play, written by Christopher Durang, is an over-the-top comedy. And yes, it’s a modern take

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