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“Charm” Reviewed by Dan Berkowitz

“Charm” is charming, to be sure, but also fierce and funny and moving and uplifting: a fine way to begin Celebration Theatre’s second season at The Lex. Last year’s inaugural season was a triumph, and it’s clear this dynamic theatre is on a roll. Bravo!

So if you’ve always had a hankering to see a 40s-era shamus get socked in the kisser – several times – with a rubber fish… then dance with a 6-foot-tall fish who socks him in the kisser with a rubber human, “Angel’s Flight” is for you. No, this loopy spoof isn’t about the one-car train which used to go up and down Bunker Hill downtown (or maybe it is – I can’t be sure…), and I’m also not sure exactly what the fish is all about, but what the hey? “Angel’s Flight” is performed in a real bar, where the cosmos aren’t half bad and are served in coupe glasses to boot. Talk about retro – I didn’t think they even made coupe glasses anymore!

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Like an enthusiastic puppy which hasn’t been housebroken, Peter Lefcourt’s “Drama Queens from Hell,” directed by Terri Hanauer, is good-natured and ingratiating, if a bit messy and, at times, frustrating and annoying. However, it’s so eager to please that it’s difficult not to like, and if you’re willing to overlook its flaws, you’ll have a good time.

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Michael Michetti has won 2 Ovation Awards and 5 LA Drama Critic Circle Awards for directing. His production of Tom Jacobson’s “Captain of the Bible Quiz Team” runs through October 3 at Lutheran churches around town.

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Mr. Shanley’s Pulitzer and Tony-winning play was originally titled, simply, “Doubt,” but when it was published, he changed the title to “Doubt: A Parable.” It’s a tricky piece, as there’s no real evidence one way or the other as to Father Flynn’s guilt or innocence: one may be certain, another may have doubt. In the end, Mr. Shanley seems to land on the side of doubt: can we ever know for certain what’s in another’s heart or mind? Is certainty – which so many these days seem to possess about the motives of others – a virtue or a flaw? Do we, perhaps, only really become human when we have… doubt?

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Tennessee Williams is arguably America’s greatest playwright. Not quite as prolific as either Arthur Miller or Eugene O’Neill, but wittier than Miller and without, for the most part, O’Neill’s ham-handedness, the best of Williams might be described as “lyric realism” – real people, in real situations, but with dreams and ideas and dialogue which approach the poetic. The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Eccentricities of a Nightingale, The Night of the Iguana – they won prizes, sure, but even if they hadn’t, they would still be acknowledged as masterpieces.

Of course, like virtually every playwright, not everything Tennessee Williams wrote was a masterpiece. It’s no diminution of his extraordinary talent to say some of his work is… um… well, many words come to mind: distasteful and icky are a few. And Baby Doll, despite a fine production at the Fountain Theatre, definitely qualifies for those two.

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Karen Rizzo is the author of “Mutual Philanthropy,” a new play in which a couple is invited to dinner by rich neighbors and complications ensue…

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Actors Rob Nagle and Deborah Puette star in “Please Don’t Ask About Becket,” by Wendy Graf which opens at Sacred Fools Theater Black Box on August 20.

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Aurin Squire is an award-winning playwright, journalist, and multimedia artist. A recent graduate of Juilliard, he’s had fellowships at the Dramatists Guild of America, National Black Theatre, and Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and has worked as a journalist for The New Republic, Talking Points Memo, ESPN, The Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, and over a dozen publications. His play “Running on Fire” will be at the O’Neill Theatre Conference this summer. His plat “Obama-ology” is at LA’s Skylight Theatre through August 28.

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Bart DeLorenzo’s production of “Go Back to Where You Are” by David Greenspan opens July 16 at the Odyssey Theatre.

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