Berkshire Stages

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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.

A denotes a highly recommended critic's choice.

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE: Over-thinking has been problematic at Shakespeare & Company but not so in this thoughtfully rendered production of one of Shakespeare's most problematic plays. From design to staging in an impressive new theater-in-the-rectangle configuration in the Tina Packer Playhouse to a shimmering performance by Tamara Hickey as Portia and a richly nuanced performance by Jonathan Epstein as Shylock, director Tina Packer's production is of a piece that comes as close as any to reconciling elements that often are at war with one another (July 16). Through Aug. 21. In rotating repertory. Selected evenings at 7:30; selected afternoons at 2. (3 hours 4 minutes)

Shakespeare & Company, Tina Packer Playhouse, 70 Kemble St., Lenox. Tickets — $80-$20. (413) 637-3353; shakespeare.org; at 70 Kemble St. box office

THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE: Buoyed by Joshua Bergasse's whimsical choreography and particularly noteworthy performances by David Garrison as the very model modern Major-General Stanley, Scarlett Strallen as the daughter who falls in love with a young apprentice pirate, and Alex Gibson as a Keystone Kop-style Sergeant, director John Rando's production of Wilford Leach's liberating 1980 treatment of Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta for the Public Theater in New York neatly bridges Victorian Savoyard tradition and contemporary American musical theater. In a Berkshire theater season that has had a lot on its mind, there haven't been many opportunities to just kick back in a theater for two hours and not think about anything weighty; just relax. This is one of them (July 23). Through Aug. 13. Evenings — Tuesday and Wednesday at 7; Thursday through Saturday at 8. Matinees — Wednesday and Friday at 2; Sunday at 5. (2 hours 10 minutes)

Barrington Stage Company, Boyd-Quinson Mainstage, 30 Union St., Pittsfield. Ticket information — 413-236-8888; barringtonstageco.org

THE TAMING: William Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" is the inspiration for Lauren Gunderson's wildly uneven, hit-and-miss contemporary political comedy about a Georgia beauty queen who is determined to restore the United States to the promise of its Founding Fathers by rewriting the Constitution. Her scheme involves kidnapping a Southern senator's top aide and a liberal blogger who is out to save a rare rodent from extinction. The performances are energetic, committed and off-the-top but only Tangela Large as the senator's aide manages to find a human element beneath all the noise and bluster and give resonant voice to the "we the people" the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they set out to create a more perfect union (June 9). In repertory through July 30. Selected evenings at 7:30 or 8:30 and afternoons at 3. (1 hour 28 minutes — no intermission).

Shakespeare & Company, Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, 70 Kemble St., Lenox. Tickets — $60-$20. (413) 637-3353; shakespeare.org; theater box office — 70 Kemble St.

UGLY LIES THE BONE: A badly scarred, severely injured veteran of the war in Afghanistan returns to her Florida home after her third tour of duty to pick up the pieces of her life and heal from wounds that are not only physical but which also reach deep into the marrow of her emotional being in Lindsey Ferrentino's drama. Christianna Nelson gives a steady, if somewhat cautious, performance as the deeply scarred veteran, Jess, in a production that also feels cautious and nowhere near as courageous as its central character (June 30). In rotating repertory through Aug. 28. Selected evenings at 8:30 and afternoons at 3. (1 hour 32 minutes — no intermission)

Shakespeare & Company, 70 Kemble St., Lenox. Tickets — $20-$60. (413) 637-3353; shakespeare.org; at box office — 70 Kemble St.


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