By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Exits and Entrances: Athol Fugard has the well-earned ability to suck the air out of any other plays competing against him on any given night. This snapshot of the mid-twentieth-century crossroads of change in South Africa is no exception. Although the playwright-icon isn't here in body, his spirit shines through in this grand autobiographical hark back to his rising to fame. Five different plays reside in the unwrapping onion of Exits and Entrances: the comic romp of opposites with exquisite timing; a dialogue about the fundamental role of theater in society; an exploration of the kind of mentoring relationships we all recognize in our own memories of talented teachers; a meditation on what a life is worth; a fretful exploration of South Africa's evolution into a deep, dark place; and a joyful insight into Fugard's own backstory. Okay, so that's actually six different plays an entire season of theater crammed into one two-hour show. — Dave Amber Through January 15. Florida Stage, 262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan; 561-585-3433.
Poor Lenny: Written and directed by Philip Marraccini, this amateur production examines the basic notion that friendship is one of life's most treasured possessions. The four lead characters Lenny, Ron, Ed, and Richard were childhood pals whose friendship has blossomed into adulthood. Although the men have evolved into four distinct personalities, they have always remained close. But that changes when Lenny's business begins to fail and he's faced with financial ruin. What ensues is a humorous yet tragic tale as one man, seduced by the lure of material possessions, tries to defraud his buddies out of a small fortune, unaware he's forsaking something far more precious friendship. — Joanne Green January 14. Julius Littman Performing Arts Theater, 17011 NE 19th Ave., North Miami Beach; 305-905-2284.
Romeo and Juliet: Shakespeare's most popular play is back in a free outdoor production billed as bawdy and violent. It promises everything from frat-boy humor to echoes of James Bond and some seriously heavy-duty sword-fighting. The last lines of the devastatingly sad script may proclaim that "never was a story of more woe/Than this of Juliet and her Romeo," but the director of Shakespeare in the Park Miami has a different take on the Bard. "I'll admit that the play ends badly for the young lovers," says Colleen Stovall about the tragic bloodbath that closes Romeo and Juliet, "but I find that people tend to forget that until that unpleasant bit at the end. Shakespeare leads us on something of a bawdy romp with Romeo and his buddies of course, none of this naughtiness is played up when we read it in school." All right, then. Pack up your blanket and a picnic basket, maybe some Tums, and head to the Grove. — Octabio RocaPresented January 13, 14, and 15 at 8:00 p.m. (special children's performance January 13 at 9:00 a.m.) by Shakespeare in the Park Miami, Peacock Park, 2820 McFarlane Rd., Coconut Grove; 305-458-9789, www.shakespearemiami.com.