Current Stage Shows

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., Miami; 305-442-4000.

Drinking in America: The best aspect of this two-man show is the two-man cast: Jim Gibbons and Jim Sweet reprise the gonzo buddy act that worked well for them in Waiting for Godot. Here they have less to work with in Eric Bogosian's often funny but rather trite show from the Eighties, which serves up vignettes about colorful drunks and drug abusers. The result is full of sound and fury (and laughs) but little substance. -- Ronald Mangravite Through March 13. Sol Theatre Project, 1140 NE Flagler Dr., Fort Lauderdale; 954-525-6555.

Edge: This one-woman show about the tormented life of poet Sylvia Plath features a startling, riveting performance by Angelica Torn that blazes as fiercely as Plath's poetry. 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.

Oliver!: The sooty buildings, the sunless streets, the cockney rabble, and the little boy who committed the cardinal sin of asking his orphanage turnkey for some more gruel: It's all there in the traveling production of Lionel Bart's 45-year-old musical Oliver! -- that is, minus a lot of the grace, wit, and emotion of the original. Be warned. It takes a crack sound system to deliver all the twisted vowels and dropped consonants of working-class Brit English. Still the powerful story breaks through. Renata Renee Wilson as the doomed Nancy is a heartbreaker when she sings "As Long as He Needs Me," her paean of loyalty to her abusive boyfriend, the scary Bill Sikes (Shane R. Tanner). Young Colin Bates as the Artful Dodger, Oliver's nimble, slippery, pickpocketing friend, is an electric presence every time he takes center stage. Adrian Vaux's sets capture all the oppressive gloom of postindustrial London (the society that made Marx a Marxist) with just enough space for little fires to break out from time to time. -- Ed Newton March 8 through 13. Jackie Gleason Theater, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-7300.

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. Stage Door Theater, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs; 954-344-7765.

 
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