Family Secret: Edge Theatre, which last year served up Men on the Verge of a Hispanic Breakdown, now offers Family Secret, written and directed by Jim Tommaney. God smiles on roaming bands of small theater troupe experimentalists. One week they might be playing in an art gallery, the next a Unitarian church. It really shouldn't matter as long as the experiment has merit and gives you a good reason for coming out. Even so, it's always a gamble. Family Secret, with its erudite upper-class family attempting to decode why Dad is so obsessed with black-and-white television, starts out promising, and it's just cryptic enough to make you think you have an evening of Ionesco in front of you. But as soon as the second act hits, you realize your prayer for cool absurdist comedy has been answered instead with a lame reflection on war and conspiracy. In this case, you've lost the gamble and ended up in the parlor of someone who may have appeared normal during dinner but has since brought out weird theories about government coverups along with the coffee and hazelnut liqueur. What's puzzling is the fine performance by Kathryn Bain as the mother, and some fun, kooky characters played by Joshua Wien and Carol Reinoso, all of which make you wonder why the actors aren't scratching their heads as well. Dave AmberThrough April 30. Art Temple, 7141 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach; 786-355-0976.
The Impressionists: In the 2000 movie Pollock, a crucially transformative scene places Jackson Pollock breaking through his previous conventions to slap paint on canvases. When wife Lee Krasner comes around to see what would forever after be recognized as his signature groove, she proclaims, "You've done it, Pollock. You've cracked it wide open." The cracking-wide-open transformation in artistic temperament and creativity is what South Florida playwright Michael McKeever seemingly aims to track in his new play. He defines "a time, a place, a moment" for the fringes of the Paris art community of the 1860s and '70s, when "with a blink of an eye," paradigms shifted and something new and thrilling was hatched among a group of upstart painters. This is one of those history-theater experiences that brings out the most self-congratulatory aspects of its audience, unable to hold back harrumphs of satisfaction as they match characters onstage with reproductions of ballerinas hanging in the foyers and bathrooms of their McMansions. With flawless acting in delicious period costumes and spot-on dialogue, scenes roll along with their own careful momentum. But though the play is fun, it is also more like a series of interesting footnotes than a deeper reflection into the creative process itself. Dave Amber Through May 21. Caldwell Theatre Company, 7873 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton; 561-241-7432.