Beauty of the Father:There is much to savor and even more to contemplate in Nilo Cruz's new play, now receiving a visually compelling world premiere at the New Theatre. The production offers several pleasures, first and foremost of which is Cruz's poetic, luxuriant language. Listening to Beauty is like floating in a tropical, flower-scented river of words, to use a Cruzian simile. That river may meander and its current may seem awfully slow, but that's really part of its charm. Cruz isn't interested in white-water adventures, in taking you somewhere else in a blinding rush. He's more into exploring the expanding dimensions of emotional and tactile experience. Through February 22. New Theatre, 4120 Laguna St., Coral Gables. 305-443-5909 or www.new-theatre.org.
The Drawer Boy: Reviewed in this issue. Through March 7. Florida Stage, 262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan. 561-585-3433.
The Shrink and Highways for Harriet: House Theatre of Miami and PS 742 present original works by two Miami playwrights, Cameron Rabie and Jeff Telofski. Through February 29. PS 742, 1165 SW Sixth St., Miami. 305-324-0585.
Stop Kiss:Stop Kiss, a romantic drama about two women and their unexpected relationship, is a high-water mark for Robert Hooker and his cheeky Sol Theatre troupe, and certainly one of the best shows to hit South Florida in a long time. Stop Kiss follows the erratic, erotic journey of one young New Yorker, Callie, a stressed-out traffic reporter who lives a cluttered, modern life in her cluttered, modern apartment. Into her routine blunders Sara, a cheerful Midwesterner newly arrived in town to teach elementary school in the Bronx. The two women strike up an odd-couple friendship that slowly, awkwardly moves toward romance, an emotional riptide that's as frightening as it is irresistible. Through February 22. Sol Theatre Project, 1140 NE Flagler Dr., Fort Lauderdale. 954-525-6555.
Strands: The M Ensemble's dazzling new production is one of those rare shows that makes an impact on several levels -- as an emotional statement, as sheer entertainment, and as a daring display of artistry. Playwright Eric Wilson has set his sights on a huge subject: tracing the entire journey of the African-American man, from the preslavery cultures of Africa on through the present day. Director Jerry Maple has a field day with the visually striking, emotionally explosive material. The production combines the power of the spoken word, dance, ritual, song, and rhythmic drumming to create a powerful, not-to-be-missed theatrical event. Through February 29. M Ensemble Actors Studio, 12320 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami. 305-895-8955.
Ten Unknowns: An aging, out-of-fashion painter exiles himself to Mexico as he confronts the decline of his career. Through March 7. GableStage at the Biltmore, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables. 305-445-1119.
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