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.
Seven Guitars: Watching M Ensemble's latest production is like sitting in your neighbor's back yard on Sunday. Although there's not a lot going on, simply being invited generates a feel-good sense of belonging. But after spending an hour listening to strangers jabber about their lives without any real story line, you might begin to wish you were someplace where there was something to get excited about. Written by the late, great August Wilson in 1995, Guitars is one work in an epic ten-play cycle that chronicles the twentieth-century black American experience. As with many of Wilson's works, Guitars is staged in a tenement in Pittsburgh's notorious Hill District. The play opens at the wake of Floyd "Schoolboy" Barton, a blues guitarist/singer. After the mourners briefly contemplate the loss of a friend, the audience is transported back in time to witness the events that led to his unnatural death. Although Guitars is rife with dialogue that easily ebbs and flows like the ocean, the dull and shallow plot dilutes the play's overall success. But to the credit of the slow-moving story, the characters are some of the most well developed ever to step onto a stage. Joanne Green Through May 28. M Ensemble Actor's Studio, 12320 W. Dixie Hwy., Miami; 305-895-8955, www.themensemble.com.
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