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.

HOLY LAUGHTER: A young Episcopal priest in her early thirties tries to find her place as she administers her first parish in a building that's falling apart and is bleeding money and parishioners. She also has to deal with an aggressive black woman minister from a rival church who is poaching congregants. Like its central character, Abigail, this play — which is being given a valiantly acted developmental workshop presentation — is very much in search of itself. There is no cohesive narrative spine — just a lot of ideas that are brought up for no particular purpose and which lead nowhere. Rather than bring us to some defined point at the end, playwright Catherine Trieschmann substitutes a feel-good kumbaya dance as the play's final statement. Until Trieschmann decides what she wants to say and how she wants to say it, this draggy two-hour two-act play is a long way from being ready for primetime (Nov. 7). Through Nov. 22. Evenings — Thursday through Saturday at 7:30. Matinees — Sunday at 2. (2 hours 2 minutes)

Info: WAM Theatre, St. Germain Stage, Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center, 36 Linden St., Pittsfield. Tickets — $40-$15. (413) 236-8888;

REAR WINDOW: Cornell Woolrich's 1942 short story, "It Had to be Murder" — a simple-seeming, tautly written story about a man, confined to a wheelchair because of a broken leg, who becomes convinced a murder has been committed in an apartment across the courtyard from his own apartment — was the source of Alfred Hitchcock's elegant, witty, suspenseful 1954 film. Here, playwright Keith Reddin, with the aid of director Darko Tresnjak and Tresnjak's design team, has turned Woolrich's trim, focused, carefully constructed thriller into a nightmarish — in more ways than one — theater noir (with a hint of Fritz Lang expressionism) consideration of American racial bigotry, alcoholism and what happens when the mind can no longer hold in its dark closeted secrets, This production is a triumph of theater technology over, rather than in support of, storytelling. There is nothing nuanced or subtle here. The biggest victims are the actors and, most of all, the carefully escalating suspense which is nail-biting in its conclusion on the printed page; laughable and ludicrous in its staging here. Kevin Bacon is steadfast as the burnt-out lead character, Hal Jeffries, but even he gets lost in the stage wizardry that surrounds and overwhelms him (Nov. 9). Through Nov. 15. All performances in this run are sold out. (1 hour 20 minutes)

Info: Hartford Stage, 50 Church St., Hartford, Conn.


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