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.

FOREVER PLAID: We can all use a little sweetness now and then, especially in these times. Few things are sweeter, in the best sense, than this engagingly performed show about a young four-part harmony group that is wiped out in an automobile accident. After wandering around in limbo for a few decades, the guys are given a chance to return to Earth and perform the gig they were on their way to performing when they were killed. Rarely have pop hits from the '50s been delivered with such ingenuous sincerity and charm. An inspired three-minute-11-second version of "The Ed Sullivan Show" gives this "revue" an added antic disposition (Aug. 3). Through Aug. 7. Evenings — Friday and Saturday at 8. Matinees — Saturday at 4 and Sunday at 2. (1 hour 24 minutes — no intermission)

The Theater Barn, 645 Route 20, New Lebanon, N.Y. Tickets — $27, $25. (518) 794-8989; thetheaterbarn.com

PEERLESS: Twin Asian-American sisters in a highly competitive high school go to extremes to secure coveted spots in the college of their choice in a dark, offbeat comedy that, drawing heavily from William Shakespeare's "Macbeth," also goes to extremes to make a point or two about ethnic stereotyping and pressures to succeed no matter what the cost, but to no real avail (July 27). Through Saturday. Evenings — Friday and Saturday at 8. Matinee — Saturday at 3. (1 hour 23 minutes — no intermission)


Barrington Stage Company, St. Germain Stage, Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center, 36 Linden St., Pittsfield. Tickets — information available by phone at 413-236-8888; online at barringtonstageco.org; in person at Boyd-Quinson Mainstage box office, 30 Union St., Pittsfield

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 — one intermission)

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 — one intermission)

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

THE STONE WITCH: A curmudgeonly, eccentric genius children's book writer meets up with a talented up-and-coming children's book writer who's been sent to the older man's cabin retreat in upstate New York to help him complete his long-awaited, and, in all, likelihood, last, book. As the elder writer wrestling with demons of his own making, Judd Hirsch fumbles around the stage in a new play that, for all playwright Shem Bitterman's efforts, feels incomplete. The designers have provided a richly textural visual atmosphere;like a children's book that is stronger on illustration than it is on text (July 30). Through Aug. 20. Evenings — Monday through Thursday at 7; Friday and Saturday at 8. Matinees — saturday at 2. (1 hour 31 minutes — no intermission)

Berkshire Theatre Group, Fitzpatrick Main Stage, 83 E. Main St., Stockbridge. Tickets — $62. 413-997-4444; berkshiretheatregroup.org

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.