Romance: A filthy, filthy courtroom farce in the grand Mametian tradition of filthy farces, Romance contains moments when the Jew jokes, pedophilia jokes, and gay jokes make even the hip audiences at GableStage gasp instead of chuckle. This is all to the good: Although the story seems like an afterthought and you've got to wait till play's end to learn the foul nature of the defendant's crimes, the cast talks enough shit to fill any dramatic void. Standouts include David Kwiat as the pill-popping judge sort of a proselytizing pedophiliac cross between Christopher Lloyd and Hunter S. Thompson and Matthew Glass as the prosecutor's perennially bawling drama-queen boyfriend. Like Romance itself, their performances are at once totally repugnant and utterly captivating. Brandon K. Thorp Through January 28. GableStage, Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave, Coral Gables; 305-445-1119, www.gablestage.org
Three Angels Dancing on a Needle: Playwright Assurbanipal Babilla is in exile from his native Iran, and after watching Three Angels, you can understand why. It's the kind of gleefully immoral play that will thrill maybe five out of every hundred people and send the rest running from the theater, screaming. Comprising three monologues tied together and occasionally interrupted by sudden flareups of inscrutable pagan ritual, the play eschews narrative in favor of plumbing. Being plumbed are the psyches of the three characters, human beings too desperate to do much more than bleed all over you. All three are psychotic beyond redemption, and the actors involved Merry Jo Pitasi, Odel Rivas, and Miriam Kulick look like they've waited all of their lives to get so far gone. Brandon K. Thorp Through January 28. Square Peg Productions, Deluxe Arts, 2051 NW Second Ave., Miami; 786-214-6040.
Kiss of the Spider Woman: After two disappointing shows, the Public Theatre of South Florida comes roaring back to form with Manuel Puig's gay prison dialectic. In the middle of la guerra sucia, Argentina's "Dirty War," two prisoners try to keep themselves sane by arguing, telling stories, and, in the end, loving each other. The chameleonic Michael McKeever plays the convicted homosexual Molina with a wilting, yielding grace that is simply beautiful, and David Perez-Ribada imbues the convicted Marxist revolutionary Valentin with enough jittery ill temper to reveal his extremism as the shuck it is a retreat from real life. The love scene in which he finally drops his pretensions is one of the most gut-twistingly sweet moments captured by any Florida stage in the past year. Brandon K. Thorp Through February 4. Public Theatre of South Florida, the Soref Jewish Community Center, 6501 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation, 954-427-0784, www.publictheatre.com.
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