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Theater Notes: Two plays I urge you to go see
December 6, 2017

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This lucky theater critic relished a double feature I want you to envy. I caught a matinee for the brilliant play in the ArtStage Studio at the Florida Repertory Theatre, "Disgraced." Then that evening I saw the sparkling play at The Laboratory Theater of Florida, "An Act of God."

It all brought back some delicious memories of when my wife and I came down from Massachusetts, to New York City to see plays. We parked our car, booked into the hotel and then saw six plays on a single weekend. Yes, six. Usually on Labor Day weekend and Easter weekend. The city was less crowded those times. Oh, those were the days.

Now there are delightful theater riches right here in Fort Myers. "Disgraced" is definitely a must see. It demands an audience ready to face the issues that are raised. The play by Ayad Akhtar won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2013. See it and you will know why.

It confronts serious problems facing our society: racism, prejudices, corruption, deceit and greed, all in human situations with characters you come to truly care about. We meet Amir, a successful Muslim-American lawyer, powerfully played by Amir Darvish. He works for a Jewish law firm, and is so good at what he does the play takes us to the edge of him becoming a partner in this prestigious firm. The plot thickens because he has hidden his cultural identity.

In the play, he is married to one of my favorite actresses at the Florida Repertory Theatre, Rachel Burttram. She is worth the price of the ticket itself. She plays a painter working on her own career to gain a place in the City's Gallery rat race. That's all I want to tell you about this exciting and dark play. Tickets are going to be increasingly hard to get, so call fast. Book immediately. It runs only until Dec. 10. Call the box office at 239-332-4488 or book online at floridarep.org. I don't want you to regret missing this play.

Now, shift gears to a bright new switch on the hot issues surrounding us about religion. Laughter helps enormously in confronting some of our deepest and often early held beliefs and so-called values surrounding religion. And laugh you will for all 75 minutes of "An Act of God" by David Javerbaum now at The Laboratory Theater of Florida, one of my favorite courageous theaters in our neighborhood. The play is fresh from Broadway, and The Lab is the first theater to get regional permission to give it to us.

There are only three characters, and they take us through a hilarious look at the 10 Commandments and more. How they do that is clear genius. Mitch Haley, the director, always knows exactly what works and how to get top flight performances from her team. That includes the actors, of course, but also the set design, the lights, the sound, and the staging.

Miguel Control, as God, carries the weight of the play. And oh, oh, does he carry it. He should win every award there is to give. He makes it work, with infinite skill, energy, wisdom and an unforgettable vicious sense of humor.

The dynamic support he gets from Dave Yudowitz, a long time hero of local theater, now as Gabriel is delightful. Then, Rob Green, playing Michael, skillfully tries to bring some sanity into God's rants. Ms. Trossbach in her director's notes says: "This play goes to great lengths to offend as many as possible in an equal and comedic fashion. Please take nothing serious....."

And that's why I was thrilled to be there. I urge you go wrestle with some religious demons, yourself. It only runs until Dec. 9. Don't let it get away without you seeing it. Call the box office at 239-218-0481.

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