Cleveland Public Theatre
Some say dreams can be interpreted and provide information about yourself, reveal your hidden desires and maybe even ferret out some unknown strengths. Of course, others claim dreams are nothing more than random memories and imaginary flights stitched together haphazardly by a mischievous brain that is off duty and has time to kill. Whatever you believe, Insomnia: The Waking of Herselves at Cleveland Public Theatre is a dream sequence that will keep you awake and riveted. This is an encore world premiere production, since the show was first mounted at CPT in the spring of 2011. Written by Holly Holsinger, Chris Seibert and director Raymond Bobgan, this version of the show feels more amusing and at times even more poignant than the original. The three performers are the same, as Anne McEvoy plays Evelyn, a middle-age woman beset by voices in her head that keep her awake at night. (Or is she asleep and they are her dreams?) So she visits her attic to discover Ev (Holsinger), a younger version of herself, and Zelda (Seibert), a playful scamp who seems like a core identity of the other two. In various combinations, the three "herselves" interact, play games, sing songs and explore this woman's identity. Director Bobgan keeps the action streamlined and cohesive so that this very internal play never lapses into navel-gazing. The result is a production that is tight, witty and often quite powerful—encouraging all of us to make friends with those moon voices and fanciful spirits that speak to us in the dead of night.
Through Oct. 26, 6415 Detroit Avenue,
Texas Chainsaw Musical
Blank Canvas Theatre
If you like blood and body counts in your play-going experience, but aren't that into Shakespeare, then consider a visit to this gory patch of Texas back country. This is where Eddy (otherwise known as "Leatherface," a tuneful sociopath) kills any living thing within reach. And thanks to director Patrick Ciamacco and his rowdy band of players, every homicide is a splatter-drenched comical treat. Based on the movie of almost the same name, the book by Christopher T. Minori and the music and lyrics by Cory Bytof are nothing that special. But the gore spills out practically nonstop as Eddy and his eventual partner in crime Lucretia (Kate Leigh Michalski) off everyone from Eddy's mom to a pregnant census taker to the UPS guy. As Eddy, Perren Hedderson is a quivering, twitching mass of psychopathologies—lighting his pet cat on fire before he moves on to his bipedal prey—and he's hilarious. Weirdly, in a production with so many gory special effects (anyone in the first two rows gets sprayed with blood, guaranteed), the quiet moments are some of the funniest. And the 10-person supporting cast, many of whom play multiple roles, wade into the carnage with cheerful abandon. This is a return engagement for TCM at Blank Canvas, and it's welcome back any time.
Through Nov. 2,
1305 West 79th St., 440-941-0458,
Great Lakes Theatre
It has been observed that corporate CEOs (okay, some of them) share a disturbing number of traits with sociopaths. Both groups tend to be narcissistic, care little to nothing about the fates or feelings of others, and are able to, um, kill people with impunity. This comparison is brought home with powerful clarity in Richard III at the Great Lakes Theater. It features a gleaming, contemporary set of glass and steel that any corporation could easily move into at a moment's notice. And the power brokers vying for dominance in these halls are conniving and vicious. None more so than the crippled "rudely stamp'd" King Richard, who prowls the bloody halls of England's ruling class, eliminating his competition with a ruthless efficiency that has immediate bottom-line results.
Directed by Joseph Hanreddy, this production literally drips with blood. Queen Margaret, the widow of King Henry VI, pours a few gallons of plasma off the balcony into a waiting tub every time another person is dispatched. It's a stylish way to handle the gore, reflective of a production that is slick and entertaining from start to finish. The cast is led ably by Lynn Robert Berg as Richard, limping about on his twisted legs as he coos and snarls to put people in their place. It is a masterful and often witty performance that never becomes tiresome.
Through Nov. 2, Hanna Theater
2067 East 14th St.,