Zoo Story: Written in 1958 and steeped in shades of economic disparity and dehumanization in a materialistic world, Edward Albee's searing one-act play still retains its power to shock nearly a half-century later. The Edge Theatre stages the numbing encounter between a middle-class publishing exec and a disturbed transient at Miami Beach Botanical Garden, and it would be difficult to cook up a better setting, considering the action unfolds between the men on a park bench. Peter, who lives high on the hog with his wife and two kids, camps himself on the same bench every Sunday to relax with a pipe and a book. Jerry, who squats in a rundown boarding house with a menagerie of kooks, has just come from the zoo and is hell-bent on unloading his misery on a sympathetic ear. When he intrudes on the older man's solitude, class warfare erupts on a gut-gripping level in this absurd confrontation between perfect strangers that careens headlong toward a violent end. Carlos Suarez De Jesus Through November 26. Miami Beach Botanical Garden, 2000 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach; 786-355-0976, [email protected].
The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant: Written in 1969 by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Germany's controversial wild-child playwright and filmmaker, The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant is back onstage with an upgrade at the White Orchard Theater. The classic play is the story of Petra Von Kant, a haughty fashion designer in her mid-thirties who falls in love with Karin a fresh, young face from a lower class who will stop at nothing to get to the top. The story is often oversimplified as a lesbian love triangle, "but this is not a lesbian play," says Irina Sundukova, artistic director. "This is a strictly social play; Fassbinder wrote it to illustrate the conflict between two classes." Although the script is all Fassbinder, Sundukova contemporizes it with glam Seventies fashions and makes Petra represent a modern aristocratic Germany; Karin, in turn, represents ghettoized Armenians. Vanessa Garcia November 10, 11, 17, and 18. Tickets cost $25, $15 for students. Arts & Minds Center, 3138 Commodore Plaza, Coconut Grove; 305-331-1233, www.whiteorchardtheater.com.
Fahrenheit 451: Adapted for the stage by the author, Ray Bradbury's sci-fi classic for the three of you who didn't encounter it in grade school contemplates a future in which firemen don't put out fires; they use them to burn books. The play was commissioned by the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago in 2002; a 1966 film version by François Truffaut was adapted by the director and others. In Bradbury's vividly imagined dystopia, the written word is forbidden, and ideas are bad. (Come to think of it, that sounds like a certain world leader's vividly imagined dystopia too.) "Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs," says Fire Captain Beatty. "Don't give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy." Substitute "foreign policy" for "philosophy" and you see why the ideas explored in Fahrenheit 451 are as timely as ever. Frank Houston Through November 19. GableStage, Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables; www.gablestage.org, 305-445-1119.
Moonlight and Magnolias: In this comedic retelling of the 1939 screenplay sessions that produced Gone with the Wind, with a focus on one banana-and-peanut-fueled five-day writing binge, Hollywood producer David O. Selznick faces failure as he hunts for a director and writer team to rescue his project. Script doctor Ben Hecht is brought in, and Victor Fleming leaves the set of The Wizard of Oz to take over. Adding to the pressure and the comic potential, Hecht refuses to read Margaret Mitchell's best-selling epic, so Selznick and Fleming must act out the story. Frankly, my dear, these men gave a damn, and history shows they pulled it off. Frank Houston Through November 12. Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-444-9293, www.actorsplayhouse.org.
City Beneath the Sea: The story of a young girl who saves an underwater metropolis from the powers of evil, played out through sparkling marionette sea creatures, is Pablo Cano's ninth marionette production at the Museum of Contemporary Art. This musical production consists of hand-crafted puppets made from cookie cutters, plastic light bulbs, rubber doilies, and cigarette wrappers. Cano usually writes his own scripts, but this year he collaborated with Carmen Pelaez, playwright and grandniece of the famed modernist Cuban painter Amelia Pelaez. Directed by Katherine Kramer, the puppets are enchanting whether you're 10 years old or 40. But City Beneath the Sea is more than meets the eye. In Cano's work, Marcel Duchamp's ready-mades meet Robert Rauschenberg's mixtures of painting and sculpture. Even the sad eyes of Victor Manuel's portraits make an interlude and mingle with the filmmaker Georges Mélis, whose films inspired Cano's set, and of course Cuba is never too far from the Havana-born artist's creations. "My working process is a little different than some artists," Cano says. "I usually go to different Cuban restaurants that have paper placemats and draw characters while waiting for dinner with my family." Vanessa Garcia Through December 23. Tickets cost $3-$16; seating is limited. MoCA, 770 NE 125th St., North Miami; 305-893-6211; www.mocanomi.org.