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Trouble in Mind 

When: Fri., Aug. 20, 8 p.m., Sat., Aug. 21, 8 p.m., Sun., Aug. 22, 2 p.m., Tue., Aug. 24, 8 p.m., Wed., Aug. 25, 8 p.m., Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. and Tuesdays, 7 p.m. Continues through Oct. 3 2010
Price: $10-$55

Alice Childress' understanding of race stereotypes in Fifties-era Broadway probably came from personal experience. She knew that black women were always saddled with mammy roles, which usually required them to iron shirts while singing spirituals. Likewise, black men had to shuck and shuffle their way through every script. Such issues animate Childress' 1955 drama Trouble inMind, now playing at AuroraTheater under the direction of Robin Stanton. A half-century since its debut, the play still seems trenchant. Margo Hall plays the lead character Wiletta, a well-known African-American actress whose pent-up frustrations make her a combustible element. RhonnieWashington is Sheldon, a yuckster who adapts by turning the other cheek, but has a surprisingly poignant moment towards the end. Tim Kniffin is the well-meaning but abusive director who brings everything to a boil. Moments of levity help diffuse the characters' hostility towards one another, but overall, it's a tense production. Through September 26 at AuroraTheatre (2081 Addison St., Berkeley). $15-$45. AuroraTheatre.org

— Rachel Swan

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