Stage Door: Gems, Blackbirds and Dead Cities

I've been away for two weeks — including seeing some great theater in Denver — but it's good to be back in Cincinnati. There's lots of great theater going on for you to see. This is the final weekend for Ensemble Theatre's well-received production of August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean. (Read my review here.) A performance was added earlier this week to meet audience demand, but I suspect tickets are still scarce. —- Box office: 513-421-3555.

Another good choice is David Harrower's Blackbird at the Cincinnati Playhouse. It's a tough topic: The later-in-life fallout of an inappropriate relationship between a man and a 12-year-old girl. But it's fascinating, because Harrower does not take sides or pass judgment, leaving that to the audience. Tom McElfresh, who reviewed this one for CityBeat, observed that "from the moment Una and Ray run screaming onto Kevin Rigdon's ice-hearted set, it's evident that playmaking of a very high order is taking place." Blackbird runs through March 8. Tickets: 513-421-3888.

You might also consider Amy Callaghan's Dead City at New Stage Collective, a contemporary story inspired by James Joyce's Ulysses. Tom's review of that one called it "a loud, lively, mixed-media production that’s a little like watching fireworks. Explosions of words, thoughts, lights, sounds and images surge into view, glitter for a moment, then fade to black, readying the stage for the next explosion." This one wraps up on Sunday. Box office: 513-621-3700.

Where I'll be this weekend is at CCM for the drama program's presentation of Transmigration, six short, student-created pieces that are presented throughout the CCM facility on the UC campus. It's a kind of mini-fringe festival, one weekend only, and it's free. But you need to call for tickets. 513-556-4183.

So many choices, so few days in a weekend. Better get started on Friday night!

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