Beyond the Fourth Wall 

Our critics review local theater productions.

Blood Wedding — Federico García Lorca's plays aren't staged nearly often enough, in part because they're difficult to pull off. The dialogue is largely poetic declarations, the characters more archetypes than personalities, so it's a delicate balance not to make them cartoonish, as is evident in the Shotgun production. Erin Gilley and Ryan O'Donnell aptly embody the nervous bride and groom, but John-Paul Goorjian as romantic rival Leonardo is pure soap opera. Part of the problem in Evren Odcikin's flamenco-themed staging is too many distractions, from stomping scene changes to the cast seated onstage as a rowdy audience. The stylized staging works better in the second act than the first, giving mythic weight to the manhunt led by the bloodthirsty moon (embodied commandingly by Dawn Scott), a striking slo-mo duel, and its tragic aftermath. (Through April 22 at the Ashby Stage; ShotgunPlayers.org or 510-841-6500.)

Clown Bible — Ten Red Hen's hilarious and unexpectedly challenging biblical clown show plays fast and loose with scripture and creates some heady connections in the process. From the point where Adam and Eve pluck red noses from the Tree of Knowledge, the performers' distinct clown personae carry them through however many biblical roles. Jane Chen oversees the action as God, an imperious silhouette with a megaphone behind a second-story screen, and also plays an intensely vulnerable and often pissy Jesus as well as Satan through a sock-puppet snake on her arm. The songs by Dave Malloy, who leads the band on piano and doubles as Job and Judas, are catchy and often haunting. The magic of the show lies less in any great spectacle of circus arts than in the way it can turn from funny to devastating in an instant, and how it makes you look at these old stories in a new way. (Through April 14 at Willard Metalshop Theater; TenRedHen.net or 800-838-3006.)

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