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Q&A with Murray Mednick by Dan Berkowitz

Murray Mednick is a pioneer of the off- and off-off-Broadway movements. “The Gary Plays,” a series of six plays he wrote, opens May 4.

The characters talk a lot, but we never get a sense of what they’re thinking or feeling underneath the words. It’s “what you see is what you get” – in this case, an engrossing (if nasty) story with some interesting (if nasty) characters, but no hint of where they came from, or what propels them to do what they do the way they do it. It’s an attractive and polished surface, but I wish we had occasionally gone a little deeper.

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“Pure Confidence” is a dynamic and challenging work by Carlyle Brown, being given a splendid production by the Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble. Like Lower Depth’s previous productions, “Pure Confidence” shows us another facet of the African-American life experience. It does so with confidence, talent, and compassion, and is thoroughly engaging. Go.

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“Scruncho” is a nickname Anthony McKinley acquired as a kid – we get the feeling it wasn’t complimentary – and he decided to keep it when he grew up and became a comedian. This spring, while he’s still being pretty funny, Scruncho’s repertoire has branched out to include tragedy as well as comedy with his new one-man show, “All I Needed Was a Hug.”

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“Of Mice and Men” is about dreams, and how difficult – and often impossible – they are to fulfill. In their striving for peace and happiness, for companionship if not love, and for at least a bit of security, these characters are timeless.

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Actress and author Ann Talman discusses her one-woman show, “Woody’s Order!” — and what it was like to work with Elizabeth Taylor.

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A conversation with actor and playwright Matt Chait, whose “Disinherit the Wind” opens March 3 at The Complex in Hollywood.

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“Die, Mommie, Die!” is a curiosity, an old-fashioned example of gay theatre on the cusp of change. It’s arch, it’s stylish, and though it relies on the same camp sensibility as shows such as “Women Behind Bars,” its carefully-constructed artifice reminds one more of Oscar Wilde than Tom Eyen. If the reaction of the opening night audience is any indication, it should have a wilde-ly successful run at Celebration Theatre.

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A few confessions right off the bat:

1. I have never seen the movie “Mean Girls,” which, not surprisingly, is the basis for “The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Mean Gurlz” – which means virtually everyone else in the audience probably got about 100,000 more in-jokes than I did; and

2. I’m not a follower of popular music, which means when virtually everyone else in the audience was singing along with the score to the show, I was sitting there dumb (in more ways than one).

So you’d think I wouldn’t like it, right? Wrong. The good news is that “The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Mean Gurlz” – one of a series of musical takeoffs of popular films – is ferociously entertaining, even for someone as clueless as I am.

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Okay, the bad news right up front: no one eats anyone in “Cannibals Alone.” Which was a real disappointment. Not because I’m particularly bloodthirsty, but because I was really looking forward to seeing how cannibalism would be done onstage. On TV or in the movies, sure – but a real live version of “Santa Clarita Diet” on the tiny Belfry Stage in NoHo? Now that I was looking forward to!

The good news is that if you’re a fan of mayhem, chaos, violence, gunshots, torture by cigarette lighter, knives to throats, and characters manhandling each other – actually, since it’s an all-female cast, I suppose it should be womanhandling each other – “Cannibals Alone” is for you. So there’s no flesh-eating? Feh!

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