On the Townsend

Through June 28
Playwrights’ Center
2301 E. Franklin Ave., Mpls.
(612) 332-7481, ext. 20

SADGRRL_13, a stage play produced by the Workhaus Collective, reflects online culture and sensationalized media. In playwright Corey Hinkle’s view, news, entertainment, human intercommunication, and the senses themselves are controlled and manipulated. The design of the production itself is an online experience rendered in three dimensions: part real, part digital, and part TV tabloid.

Hinkle says that in the world of SADGRRL_13, “Gender is mutable, sex becomes a game, and reality shifts with a single keystroke.”

After a Hundred Years
Through June 29
Guthrie Theater
818 S. 2nd St., Mpls.
(612) 377-2224

War crimes, journalistic arrogance, and HIV/AIDS are among the themes wrestled with in After A Hundred Years, Naomi Iizuka’s new play commissioned by the Guthrie.

Director Lisa Portes, who compares the piece to a John Grisham thriller, explains, “It investigates the failure of Western morality in the face of a country so ravaged, so damaged, not only by the Khmer Rouge, but the colonization and global disregard that gave rise to such a brutal and ruthless revolt.”

That failure was in the 1970s, and many forget President Richard Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia was central to the Khmer Rouge’s power grab. Indeed, some feel that bombing was his truly great crime, not Watergate. This history also is reflected in the classic 1984 film The Killing Fields. Iizuka’s play is tragically resonant now, given the displacement and slaughter that have been happening in Iraq.

The Gin Game
Through June 29
Jungle Theater
2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls.
(612) 822-7063

Though D.L. Coburn’s The Gin Game won the Pulitzer Prize three decades ago, it has an uneasy resonance today, when war and political primaries are covered by the media as if they’re competitive sports events that themselves are the lucrative raison d’etre of whole television networks. The play also is a bluntly unsentimental look at aging.

At Jungle Theater, Wendy Lehr and Bain Boehlke portray two senior citizens who pass time by playing gin. For quite a while, the comedy is nonthreatening and almost benign, but Coburn’s subtle dialogue, interpreted with natural ease and earthy wit by the actors, reveals a savagery that surprises. The different ways in which the two approach this mere game reveals their deeper personalities. One wonders that if communication always is reduced to competitiveness, then potential for intimacy, nuance, and real understanding may be impossible.

The Robber Bridegroom
Through June 29
Hennepin Stages
824 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
(612) 673-0404

Alfred Uhry may be a name you don’t know off the top of your head, but he is one of the most popular playwrights of our time, excelling in both dramas and musicals. Best-known for Driving Miss Daisy, he has remarkable insights into both Southern experience and Jewish experience. Both are at play in his dark and majestic Parade, produced earlier this year by Minnesota Jewish Theater. But Southern sensibility gets a lighter touch in Uhry’s bluegrass musical adaptation of The Robber Bridegroom.

The original is actually a dark tale from the Brothers Grimm, but Steven J. Meerdink, who directs the show for Minneapolis Musical Theatre, calls Uhry’s version “a bawdy rollick.”

June 26-28
Red Eye Theater
15 W. 14th St., Mpls.
(612) 870-0309

Solo performer Janelle Ranek and co-writer Jules Weiland take on the fiery topic of Hepatitis C in C-Sick, part of Red Eye’s New Works series. Known as “the silent killer,” it can infect someone for 20 years before signs show up. Transmitted only by blood-to-blood contact, it is not an STD.

Ranek warns that “federal funding is minimal, and Bush is proposing cuts. It often carries a stigma of only being an IV-drug-user’s disease, but it is not. This is an epidemic. It is our intent to create awareness. With awareness begins change—to generate dollars to research a cure, and to reach out to those with Hep C with caring, rather than judgment and fear.”

Mom’s the Word
Through July 13
Lowry Theater
16 W. 5th St., St. Paul
(651) 290-2290

Actors Theater of Minnesota is staging a fabulously entertaining Mom’s the Word. Dawn Brodey’s butch turn as a tough gal who ultimately finds sisterhood in motherhood is a feminist delight. Mo Perry’s guileless take on a mom so intent on finding her stray child that she obliviously walks in public naked to find him is deliriously funny, yet beautifully reveals the unflinching maternal need to protect.

Director Peter Moore’s terrific all-female cast journeys through this monologue-driven comedy with vast psychological range, as playwrights Linda Carson, Jill Daum, and Alison Kelly dispel sentimental myths of motherhood. Frank, funny, and touching segments spoof moms who resent parental responsibility, the actual physical pain of childbirth, and waning sex drives after pregnancy. Beware of the blowup penis!

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