By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Alice Does Wonderland: The Sol Theatre is a dirty place filled with dirty people. In Alice Does Wonderland, you will see a puppet give a man analingus. You will see Alice going down on the Cheshire Cat. You will see the Red Queen deep-throat a light saber, which is dangerous even if it is hygienic. And you will laugh. As always, Sol Theatre appears to be flying by the seat of its collective pants: Though Alice Does Wonderland is theoretically based on a script written by company members Jeff Holmes and Erynn Dalton, the cast doesn't seem too interested in following itthey're mostly interested in seeing how far they can travel into the filthy oubliettes of their own fevered brains. Theatergoers be warned: This nasty little production is a fundraiser, so bringing a few extra bucks is appropriate. Before showtime, audience members have the opportunity to bid on props from Sol's previous productions, random objects found in the theater, and lap-dances from the Sol-diers. Brandon K. Thorp.Through February 17 at the Sol Theatre Project, 1140 N. Flagler Dr., Fort Lauderdale; 954-525-6555, www.soltheatre.com.
Manon Lescaut: It was Puccini's first great success, and like every opera he ever composed, it can be transcendent in the right hands. These are the wrong hands. The set is tired, the orchestra sounds choppy and insensitive to rhythm, the staging is awkward, and the acting is, by turns, overblown or nonexistent. Opera fans can be forgiving if there's great singing to be heard, but in this version there's not much: Tenor John Hughes (Chevalier Des Grieux) barks his way through the production, and Sylvie Valayre (Manon), though in possession of a fine instrument, is far too reserved both dramatically and vocally. To hear how Puccini meant this to sound, find a recording of Jussi Bjoerling's Chevalier or Renata Tebaldi's Manon. Those performances are delightful; Florida Grand Opera's effort is merely depressing. Brandon K. Thorp. Through February 17 at the Ziff Ballet Opera House, Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 800-741-1010, www.fgo.org.
Manuscript: For all its wit and collegiate word dueling, Manuscript is, ultimately, an extremely visceral play. It's the story of three young adults meeting in a New York brownstone. What you see isn't what you get: These people are all hiding something, and playwright Paul Grellong is crafty enough to keep massive, paradigm-shifting plot twists hidden until very near the end of the show. It's not until then that it becomes clear what Manuscript is really about: the pleasure one can get from plain, regular vengeance. The cast at Inside Out Theatre is nimble enough to deliver that pleasure, running madcap hot or noir cool as the ebb and flow of their deceptions demand. Brandon K. Thorp. Through February 18 at Inside Out Theatre, Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, One Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale; 954-385-3060, www.insideouttheatre.org.