By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Action: Mad Cat Theatre Company's new production of this Sam Shepard one-act play has a lot going on: screaming and chair-throwing, fish-filleting on stage, what looks like a Pollo Tropical chicken passing for a Christmas turkey, lots of drooly finger-licking, spiffy winter clothes, and the sounds of a nasty snowstorm outside. Existentialism with an American accent? Maybe even a good play by an artist very much worth exploring? Not quite, actually. Directed by Paul Tei and starring Todd Allen Durkin, Ivonne Azurdia, Michaela Cronan, and Erik Fabregat, Action does little to support or enhance Shepard's reputation. For all its trappings of significance, it is a short and loud but dull evening of theater. -- Octavio Roca Through March 5. The Light Box at Miami Light Project, 3000 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-576-6377.
The Constant Wife: W. Somerset Maugham's 1926 drawing-room comedy about infidelity among London's high society crowd may be an antique, but its cynical critique of marriage still packs quite a punch. Malcolm Black's stylish, effective production is graced by a wise, witty performance from Alicia Roper in the title role as a married woman who turns the tables on her philandering husband. All in all, this 79-year-old Wife is both thought-provoking and quite amusing. -- Ronald Mangravite Through March 6. Coconut Grove Playhouse, 3500 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove; 305-442-4000.
Edge: This one-woman show about the tormented life of poet Sylvia Plath features a startling, riveting performance by Angelica Torn. Paul Alexander's play depicts Plath's failed romances and suicide attempts, and excoriates her husband Ted Hughes as a controlling monster who profited mightily from her royalties after her death. Despite these fireworks and a welcome dose of wry humor, this tale of rage and obsession feels rather flat dramatically. Edge works best as a performance showcase for the splendid Torn. -- Ronald Mangravite Through March 27. Coconut Grove Playhouse, 3500 Main Hwy., Miami; 305-442-4000.
Hanging Fire: This genial but insipid comedy, set in a small Michigan town just before July 4, 2000, concerns a free-spirited septuagenarian stroke victim, her naysaying sister, and the sudden arrival of their mutual boyfriend of 50 years ago. Claudia Allen's script oscillates between this character standoff and flashbacks to the sisters as youngsters. Allen has a gift for comedic dialogue, and the cast is accomplished, but without much dramatic oomph, this show is more a fizzle than a firecracker. -- Ronald Mangravite Through March 6. Florida Stage, Plaza del Mar, 262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan; 561-585-3433, 800-514-3837, www.floridastage.org.
Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill: Lanie Robertson's oft-revived play is set in 1959 at a Philadelphia bar where fading jazz star Billie Holiday sings her signature songs and jokes with the audience, but her boozing and drugs send her tottering toward an onstage meltdown. The production is graced by a fine jazz trio and the rich vocals of Nadeen Holloway in the title role, but Holloway's energy and warmth seem at odds with Lady Day's tortured personality. -- Ronald Mangravite Through February 27. M Ensemble Company, 12320 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami; 305-895-8955, www.themensemble.com.
The Retreat from Moscow: Soap operas tend to sound more serious with a British accent, and William Nicholson's play is soaked in classy suds. It is a small, middle-class affair about the breakup of a 33-year marriage. The wonderful Lisa Morgan plays a strong woman, frustrated by difficulties that eventually will lead to the end of everything she thought she could take for granted; David Kwiat is a husband who is not so much passive-aggressive as just plain passive, and perhaps on his way to happiness at last; Andrio Chavarro, in his GableStage debut, is a son with his own complaints about being unlucky in love. There is not much more, but Joseph Adler's fast direction almost makes one overlook the banalities beneath the surface of the glossy script. -- Octavio RocaThrough February 27. GableStage at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables; 305-445-1119, www.gablestage.org.
The Will Rogers Follies: A Life in Revue: This story about the rise of the legendary folk philosopher incorporates the flair of an old Ziegfield Follies show as it portrays Rogers's transformation from do-nothing ranch boy to world celebrity. Jarret Mallon plays the humble Rogers, narrating his life through monologues, performing rope tricks, and singing songs, while waiting for Ziegfield's luscious ladies to change into fresh breathtaking attire. Though his witty banter often falls flat, the girls -- whether high-kicking and doing the hand jive or simply singing like angels -- are priceless, and the period costumes are breathtaking. -- Rachel Galvin. Through March 6 at Stage Door Theater, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs, 954-344-7765.