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.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. This 1930s New Orleans-tinged production of Shakespeare's enchanting romance doesn't fully spring to life until midway through the second half when the four mismatched lovers collide in the woods in a brilliantly executed rough-and-tumble display that is a showstopper in every good sense of the word. Otherwise, the inconsistently applied New Orleans flavor is a wasted opportunity that offers little in style and even less by way of insight. Ultimately, the success of this production rests with the performances which run the gamut from sincerely applied inexperience to capable to exceptional (7/5). In rotating repertory through Aug. 30. Selected evenings and afternoons. (2:50).
BENEFACTORS. Construction of a local public housing project in London's south end is the link between two married couples, one of them in deep trouble, in Michael Frayn's elegantly written play performed by an expert cast in collaboration with an expert director (7/22). Through July 26. Eves.: 8 Thu.-Sat. Mat.: 2 Sat. (2:25). Berkshire Theatre Group, Unicorn Theatre, 6 East St., Stockbridge. Tickets: $48. (413) 997-4444; BerkshireTheatreGroup.org
♥ BREAKING THE CODE. Led by Mark Dold's at-once haunting and unassuming portrayal of Alan Turing -- a British mathematician whose inventive quick mind led to breaking the Germans' Enigma code, paving the way for the Allied victory in World War II -- an absolutely first-rate cast, in collaboration with Joe Calarco's impeccable, imaginative direction, brings a full palette of color to this richly textured play about the high cost of living a closeted professional and / or personal life (7/24). Through Aug. 2. Eves.: 7 Tue., Wed.; 8 Thu.-Sat. Mats.: 2 Wed., Fri.; 5 Sun.; additional matinee at 2 on Aug. 2. (2:35). Barrington Stage Company, Boyd-Quinson Mainstage, 30 Union St., Pittsfield. Tickets: $20 and up. (413) 236-8888; barringtonstageco.org.
JULIUS CAESAR. Director Tina Packer's inventive, if, at times, precious Bare Bard approach to Shakespeare's muddled political drama reverberates with currency even if the setting remains ancient Rome. (7/22). In rotating repertory through Aug. 30. Selected evenings and afternoons. (2:13). Shakespeare & Company, Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, 70 Kemble St., Lenox. Tickets: $10-$60. (413) 637-3353; shakespeare.org
♥ LIVING ON LOVE. Playwright Joe Di Pietro and director Kathleen Marshall have put flesh on the bones of a 1985 comedy by Garson Kanin, reset it in 1957 and delivered a sparkling comedy about a self-absorbed maestro and his equally self-absorbed opera diva wife who each have hired young ghostwriters of the opposite sex to pen their respective memoirs. International opera superstar Renée Fleming holds her own quite ably in her theater stage debut as a diva reluctantly accepting the fact that her career may be slipping past its prime. As the maestro, Douglas Sills is commanding in all the right ways in a sublime performance that redefines the limits without exceeding them. Comedies like this -- literate, witty, knowingly silly and smart -- don't come along too often. While the world at large seems to be in free fall, this new "old-fashioned" comedy is an invigorating tonic (7/23). Through July 26. Eves.: 7:30 Thu.; 8 Fri., Sat. Mats.: 2 Sat.; 3:30 Sat. (2:09). Williamstown Theatre Festival, Main Stage, ‘62 Center for Theatre and Dance, 1000 Main St. (Route 2), Williamstown. Tickets: $65. (413) 597-3400; wtfestival.org
♥ SHAKESPEARE'S WILL. Actress Kristin Wold is at the top of her craft in this expertly written, lyrical one-woman play about William Shakespeare's wife, Anne Hathaway, as, in the hours after his funeral, she reflects on the rewards and challenges of her life as the playwright's wife and mother of their three children, one of whom, their son, Hamnet, died tragically at the age of 11 (6/4). In rotating repertory through Aug. 24. Selected evenings and afternoons. (1:35). Shakespeare & Company, Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, 70 Kemble St., Lenox. Tickets: $80-$10. (413) 637-3353; shakespeare.org