A digest of what's playing at theaters in and around the Berkshires based upon reviews by Berkshire Eagle theater critic Jeffrey Borak. Capsules include publication date of review, closing date of production, performance schedule, and production's running time.
♥ denotes a highly recommended critic's choice.
♥ AN ILIAD. A man known to us only as The Poet -- who has been wandering the earth for centuries with his narrative -- comes into a theater and begins telling, in his own way and in his own words, the story of Homer's "Iliad," a tale of prolonged war and the human damage caused -- collateral and otherwise -- when war is waged between nations, especially for the pettiest of reasons. The haunted, sad, pained expression in the Poet's eyes is a reflection of his recognition that even now, centuries after the war between Greece and Troy, there is still a need for us to hear this cautionary tale. Haunting and remarkable (8/21). Through Aug. 25. Eves.: Thu.-Sat. 8. Mats.: Thu., Sun. 2. (1:55) Chester Theatre Company, Chester Town Hall, 15 Middlefield Road, Chester. Tickets: $35, $30. (1-800) 595-4TIX; chestertheatre.org
HEROES. Three World War I veterans find an odd sort of kinship as residents of a home for war veterans in the French countryside in Tom Stoppard's translation of a play by Gérald Sibleyras. The year is 1959. The month is August. The mood is autumnal in this elegaic play, performed with grace, dignity and rich nuance (6/22). In rotating repertory through Sept. 1. (1:44) Shakespeare & Company, Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, 70 Kemble St., Lenox. Tickets: $15-$50. (413) 637-3353; shakespeare.org
LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST. William Shakespeare's rarely seen romantic-comedy about a king and his three noblemen whose commitment to a three-year ascetic lifestyle free of women is thwarted by the arrival of a princess and her three spirited noblewomen is given conflicted treatment. There is no want of ideas in a production that sets Shakespeare's play in post-World War II Europe. That these ideas compete rather than coalesce is problematic (7/22). In repertory through Sept. 1. (2:44).
Shakespeare & Company, Tina Packer Playhouse, 70 Kemble St., Lenox. Tickets: $95-$15. (413) 637-3353; shakespeare.org.
MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN. Bertolt Brecht's searing indictment of war profiteering and the ways in which capitalism numbs the soul is given tepid treatment. Paula Langton has replaced Olympia Dukakis as Mother Courage, a canteen woman in the Thirty Years War whose allegiances shift direction as easily as the wind (8/8). In rotating repertory through Aug. 25. (2:38) Shakespeare & Company, Tina Packer Playhouse, 70 Kemble St., Lenox. Tickets: $95-$15. (413) 637-3353; shakespeare.org
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. Director Julianne Boyd has transplanted William Shakespeare's urbane romantic comedy to Sicily in the mid-1930s where the effects of Mussolini's reign were negligible in a crisply played, stylishly mounted production. The chemistry between Christopher Innvar's Benedick and Gretchen Egolf's radiant Beatrice doesn't click in until the second act when Innvar's Benedick matures and becomes a man truly worthy of this formidable Beatrice. The supporting cast around them is generally fine (8/15). Through Aug. 25. Eves.: Tue., Wed. 7; Thu.-Sat. 8. Mats.: Wed., Fri. 2; Sun. 5. (2:44) Barrington Stage Company, Boyd-Quinson Mainstage, 30 Union St., Pittsfield. Tickets start at $20. (4313) 236-8888; barringtonstageco.org
THE CAT AND THE CANARY. John Willard's 1922 melodrama about an heiress to an estate and the $1 million that go with it who must survive the night in an eerie Hudson River mansion in order to receive her inheritance -- else the unknown designated next in line will -- is given richly atmospheric, if, perhaps overly stylish, treatment by an energetic, generally appealing cast of young actors who are all either recent grads or about-to-be grads, of Yale School of Drama. A harmless diversion (8/10). Through Aug. 24. Eves.: Mon., Tue., Thu.-Sat. 8; Wed. 7. Mats.: Sat. 2. (2:17) Berkshire Theatre Group, Unicorn Theatre, 6 East St., Stockbridge. Tickets: $45. (413) 997-4444; berkshiretheatregroup.org
THE FOX ON THE FAIRWAY. Ken Ludwig, who gave us the nearly perfect contemporary farce, "Lend Me a Tenor," serves up another amusing comedy -- although you mightn't know it from this uneven, generally shapeless production -- this one about an unlikely golf phenom who is on the verge of turning around a golf club's tarnished reputation in a competition against a rival club only to face a series of calamities at the least opportune moment (8/20). Through Aug. 25. Eves.: Thu.-Sat. 8. Mats.: Thu., Sat., Sun. 2. (1:54) Oldcastle Theatre Company, 331 Main St., Bennington, Vt. Tickets: $37; students $10. (802) 447-0664; oldcastletheatre.org