On Thursday evening I was that the Cincinnati Playhouse for the opening of Speaking in Tongues. If you like heady, noir-ish drama with flashes of sardonic humor, this is the show for you. Andrew Bovell’s 1996 script uses four actors to play nine characters whose lives intersect and diverge and reconnect in ways that you have to pay attention to if you want to get the story. This is not a sit-back-and-relax kind of play, but rather one you’ll be trying to follow the narratives, which are neither linear nor chronological. But they are certainly fascinating. The cast includes two of Cincinnati’s best local professional actors, Bruce Cromer and Amy Warner, and two others who have delivered memorable Playhouse performances, R. Ward Duffy and Henny Russell (who happen to be husband and wife). In fact, Warner is married to director Michael Evan Haney, so this show about deceitful relationships and the importance of trust and faith must have made for an intriguing rehearsal process. Be prepared to think hard if you go to see this one on the Shelterhouse stage. 513-421-3888.—-
Know Theater “comedy of anxiety” by Allison Moore, Collapse, is under way. (Onstage through March 3.) The collapse of a highway bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis profoundly affects the lives of several people. This is the kind of edgy script Know Theatre excels at producing, and Jason Bruffy, Know’s former artistic director, is directing this regional premiere. I gave this one a Critic’s Pick because it combines heart and humor. Collapse reflects and resonates with the world we live in, right here and right now, full of pain and doubt. But it’s is told with comic finesse and some fine acting, especially from local professional Annie Fitzpatrick, making her Know Theatre debut. (She’s been a regular at Ensemble Theagre.) This is Know’s best work of the season. Box office: 513-300-5669
The Whipping Man continues at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, which has moved the closing to Feb. 18, so you still might find tickets available. Set in April 1865, it’s the story two former slaves and the sone of the family who owned them. All raised as Jews, they decide to celebrate Passover, ironically a celebration of freedom from slavery. Whipping Man is a powerful show about freedom and responsibility with a plot that will keep you guessing. Another Critic’s Pick. Box office: 513-421-3555
I took a dim view of tweeting in the theater in a recent column, but if you want to experience the phenomenon for yourself, you can do so at Falcon Theater, presenting a production of 39 Steps at the Monmouth Theater in Newport. The small venue is dedicating the back two rows of the 85-seat theater to those who want to use Twitter or Facebook to share the experience of this fast-paced farce based on Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 film that includes murder, train chases and all kinds of deception. Tickets are normally $15-$17, but they are discounted for anyone in the “Social Media Section.” I’m interested to hear reactions to this innovation. Falcon is the first theater in Cincinnati to give this a try, although the Cincinnati Symphony has been encouraging similar activity at some of its concerts since last fall. Box office: 513-479-6783.
Each week in Stage Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces of theater news.