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Body Awareness 

When: Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. and Tuesdays, 7 p.m. Continues through March 11 2012
Price: $30-$55

Sharp, snappy dialogue and contemporary themes make Annie Baker's new play a refreshing addition to Aurora's 2012 calendar. Body Awareness was incubated through the company's Global Age Project, which promotes forward-thinking work from young playwrights. It's easy to see why the play ultimately earned a professional run. For one thing, it offers a serious, albeit humorous treatment of a lesbian relationship -- which is progressive even by today's standards -- and of Asperger's Syndrome, a disease that's new enough in the pop-culture domain to warrant its own definition in the program notes. Baker and director Joy Carlin constructed this production to be as fast-paced and riveting as a sitcom; the set design, by Kent Dorsey, is endlessly mutable, and many scenes wrap up with a punch line. Best of all is the acting. Amy Resnick plays the mordant feminist psychology professor Phyllis, Jeri Lynn Cohen is her somewhat guileless girlfriend, Patrick Russell is uncomfortably hilarious as the Asperger's-afflicted son, and Howard Swain steals the show as a smarmy traveling artist who comes in and tries to wreck everything. Through March 4 at Aurora Theatre (2081 Addison St., Berkeley). $30-$48. 510-843-4822 or AuroraTheatre.org

— Rachel Swan

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