Back by Popular Demand:
Darwinii: The Comeuppance of Man
One of the best stage shows of 2011 returns this week to Cleveland Public Theatre: Darwinii: The Comeuppance of Man. Conceived and written by Glen Berger and his sole actor, Brett Keyser, the one-man show is funny, fast-paced, and intellectually rich. The plot, such as it is, focuses on Cristobal, the self-proclaimed great-great-great-great-bastard-grandson of Charles Darwin. Obsessed by his possible lineage, Cristobal is on a manic quest; along the way, he leads us through funny yet remarkably cogent explanations of Darwin's theories. Reprising the role is Keyser, whose 2011 performance was praised by house critic Christine Howey as "a one-man tour de force ... Keyser creates a symphony of glorious intellectual dysfunction that plays well against the hard rationality of his supposed forebears." Darwinii opens in preview at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 1, and continues each Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Monday through March 17. Tickets are $10 to $25 at 216-631-2727 or cptonline.org. Performances are in the Storefront Studio at 6415 Detroit Ave. in the Gordon Square Arts District. — Elaine T. CicoraFlanagan's Wake: Part improv, part scripted, this interactive Irish wake is back again at Kennedy's Theatre at Playhouse Square. Performances are set for Fridays and Saturdays through April 28. Tickets are $22 at 216-241-6000 or playhousesquare.org. Kennedy's is beneath the Ohio Theatre lobby at 1501 Euclid Ave.
Memphis: The latest offering from Playhouse Square's Broadway Series is the Tony Award-hogging story of the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis and the lusty lads and lasses who rose out of them. The action centers around a white DJ, a black singer, and their quest to take their music to the world. And yeah, sure, to navigate the waters of forbidden inter-racial romance along the way. (Bonus factoid: Besides his acting cred, leading man Bryan Fenkart has recently released his second album of original songs and is carving out a parallel career as a performer in New York City clubs.) The show runs through March 11, with performances daily except March 5. Tickets range from $10 to $85 or thereabouts, depending on performance time; get them at playhousesquare.org or by calling 216-241-6000. The Palace Theatre is at 1615 Euclid Ave. at Playhouse Square.
Middletown: Amid the smallville charm of Middletown, there exists a lesser known and mysterious side. Dobama's production of the play by Will Eno explores the culture of America's li'l communities — a culture that's complex, mysterious, and often surprising. Prior to select shows, a Q&A and chat about the show will be offered. Directed by artistic director Joel Hammer, the action continues every Thursday through Sunday through March 18. Tickets range from $10 to $26 at 216-932-3396 or dobama.org. Dobama Theatre is at 2340 Lee Rd. in Cleveland Heights.
Radio Golf: August Wilson's Tony Award-nominated drama is set in a crime-ridden Pittsburgh neighborhood in 1997 that could just as well be the East Side of C-Town. Critic Christine Howey had this to say: "Thanks to an outstanding performance by Abdul Salaam El Razzac (in the supporting role of Elder Joseph Barlow), at least one character perfectly captures the Wilsonian vibe. Unfortunately, the impact of that performance, as well as the power of a densely written and often poetic play, is softened by a lethargic pace and a couple of actors who don't capture the fierce glint of the playwright's words." Through March 4 at the Allen Theatre, 1407 Euclid Ave. at Playhouse Square. Tickets are $49 to $69, or $15 for students, available at 216-241-6000 or clevelandplayhouse.com.
Spring Awakening: In collaboration with Baldwin-Wallace College, Beck Center presents this Tony Award-winning rock musical exploring the sometimes-turbulent journey to adulthood. According to our noted critic, it's a "throbbing, pulsating jewel of theatrical passion ... as polished and sure-footed as any in recent memory." Performances continue through March 4 at 17801 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood. Tickets for mature audiences start at $15 at 216-521-2540 or at beckcenter.org.