DEAD MAN'S CELL PHONE
Due to a wild and fanciful digression, Sarah Ruhl's play winds up spinning its wheels in the late going. But up to that point, this Dobama Theatre production is amusing and engrossing. The unambiguous title tells you much of what you need to know, since within the first couple minutes a man, Gordon, has dropped dead sitting in his chair at a café. But then his cell phone rings, and the only other patron, a mousy woman named Jean, gently asks him if he's "going to get that." Once she detects the droopy-headed gentleman is in fact toast, she answers his phone and begins running interference between Gordon and those trying to reach him. Soon Jean meets those folks in person, and the imaginary Gordon she has created begins to change Jean's real life in extraordinary ways. In the linchpin role of Jean, Tracee Patterson is a marvel. (Christine Howey)
Through November 21 at Dobama Theatre, 2430 Lee Rd., Cleveland Heights. Tickets are $10-$20; call 216-932-3396 or go to dobama.org.
FROM BREAST CANCER TO BROADWAY
This world-premiere from Bridgette Wimberly features 11 local cancer survivors who united to pen their own play chronicling their lives and experiences surrounding their breast-cancer diagnosis.
Through November 21 at Karamu House, 2355 East 89th St. Call 216-795-7070 or go to karamuhouse.org for more information.
Nick Koesters is the featured performer in the second of two one-acts that make up an evening of sometimes vexing but almost always exhilarating theater written by Darren O'Donnell. Now being produced by Theater Ninjas, this duo of works neatly avoids the traps of identifiable characters or plot lines, opting instead for words that spill and flow, giving you glimpses of an idea before it is snatched away by the playwright. It would be a grave mistake to label these plays with the bland and dismissive term "experimental"; O'Donnell is not doing trial and error — he is very focused and determined in his intent. And with the muscular, witty direction supplied by Jeremy Paul, the result is a stage event you must experience to understand. Or, of course, not understand. Director Paul employs a galaxy of different staging techniques to bring O'Donnell's material ferociously to life. Inoculations is all about living and relating, about finding a way to live inside your own DNA while bouncing off the egos and identities of others. But it's done in such a non-linear and vigorous manner that the lessons wind up as delightfully complex and baffling as life itself. (Howey)
Produced by Theater Ninjas through November 20 at the 78th Street Studios, 1300 West 78th St. Tickets are $13-$15; call 216-539-0662 or go to theaterninjas.com.