By Beau Willimon. Through January 24. GableStage, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables; 305-445-1119; gablestage.org
GableStage's obligatory annual politics play combines a stellar cast — David Hemphill! Nick Duckart! Deborah Sherman! The irrepressibly sexy Gregg Weiner! — with a plot that recalls Primary Colors. Witness how the camaraderie of common cause evaporates on the campaign trail, giving way to venality, ambition, and backstabbing. Joseph Adler has directed a fast and mean play that cuts right to the bone in exploring how our politics is corrupted by the anti-democratic obsession with victory.
You wouldn't think it, but this exercise in musical anthropology is actually a critical darling — Charles Isherwood praised its "blending" of "pop idioms" (idia?), and The New Yorker's brief review called it "joyful and unashamedly vulgar." They were talking about the New York production, of course, but no sweat: The Great American Trailer Park Musical is very much Actors' Playhouse's bailiwick. Light 'n' frothy.
The conceit of Shepherd's Pie is this: The Velvet Shamrock Players have traveled from Ireland to educate the dumb American masses on the life and times of Saint Patrick — or "Maewyn Succat," as he was apparently known — presumably while shithammered on Irish car bombs. (The Players, being Irish, simply refer to the drinks as "car bombs.") There will be music! Rhyme! Silliness! And a cast featuring the fatnabulous Erik Fabregat and Todd Allen Durkin — at least one of whom is Irish! It runs for one night only. You have to see it, if only because Paul Tei is a genius. And there's nothing like drama at the Colony Theatre.
Storytelling is an intellectually rich, emotionally riveting, and painfully funny play with an ending almost too stupid to endure. Ignore it. In this play, which follows two brilliant but lonely high-schoolers through two violent weeks in the middle of the school year, Carter W. Lewis has created probably the best portrait of modern adolescence to ever hit the stage.