Desert Storm: Jim Tommaney's antiwar fable balances three stories: soldiers on the war front, their concerned parents back home, and inside the Oval Office as the first President Bush and aides discuss U.S. involvement in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. The fictional plight of the soldiers and families hits hard, but is unnecessarily juxtaposed with tedious political talk that doesn't inform or add substantially to the heart-wrenching reality faced by people the war has affected. -- Dan Hudak Through June 27. EDGE Theatre, 3627 NE First Court. 305-531-6083.
The Life: The tiny Atlantis Playhouse takes a crazy gamble on The Life, a dark and gritty musical about pimps and prostitutes on New York's mean streets in the Eighties. The risk pays off. This rarely produced Tony-award winner (in its first-ever regional production) features a fine score from master tunesmith Cy Coleman that ranges from snazzy show tunes to funk, blues, and gospel, with wry, bitter lyrics from Ira Gassman. The result is white hot. The storyline meanders and production values are decidedly low rent, but the talented, fiercely committed acting ensemble blows the roof off the Playhouse anyway. -- Ronald Mangravite Through July 11. Atlantis Playhouse, 5893 S. Congress Ave., Atlantis. 561-304-3212.
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Summer Shorts: City Theatre's annual festival of short plays, a highlight of the South Florida stage scene, is back with mini comedies and dramas in all styles and sizes. Twenty playlets from one to twenty minutes long are presented in two separate programs, which can be taken in on separate nights or back to back with a catered meal in between. A versatile acting ensemble of nine assays all the plays, under the direction of eight veteran directors. The fest includes a few duds among the sizzlers but the fast pace means the next winner is only minutes away. -- Ronald Mangravite Through June 27. City Theatre at the University of Miami Ring Theatre, 1312 Miller Dr., Coral Gables. 305-365-5400.