The Smell of the Kill. The Cleveland Play House has come up with a stylishly nasty black comedy. In the course of a dinner party, three men (all, admittedly, bastards) manage to become locked in a cellar meat freezer. As they frantically bang on the ceiling, their wives leisurely debate whether or not to save them. This female revenge comedy is a bizarre takeoff on the '30s comedy classic The Women, the switch being that that the offstage men here are reviled rather than revered. The piece worked much better as a reading than in this full-scale production, since without the power of suggestion, it becomes merely hollow, contrived, and mean-spirited. Through February 7. Reviewed January 21.
Truth: The Testimonial of Sojourner Truth. Dobama's production spins a universal tale of escape from bondage, abused children, broken promises, redemption, and ultimate triumph. RaSheryl McCreary, as a Northern slave who becomes free and ends up as a feminist minister, brings an impassioned energy to her role, filtering both gospel and blues singing into her acting. The play is directed with just the right touch of grace and fervor by Kenn McLaughlin. Right up to its last we-shall-overcome seconds, the audience feels the elation of a church service that actually works, where the holy apostles merge into song and dance. Through February 7. Reviewed January 21.