Capsule Reviews 

Our critics weigh in on local theater

Reviews by Lisa Drostova and Sam Hurwitt

For complete, up-to-date East Bay theater listings, look under Billboard on the home page for the "Select Category" pulldown, then select "Theater & Performing Arts."

The Just -- On February 17, 1905, an intellectual dressed as a laborer stepped out of a crowd and threw a pipe bomb into the carriage of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich Romanov, the tsar's uncle. Bits of the grand duke went everywhere, and the Russian Revolution was on. A hundred years later, Russia is still struggling to be free, and people everywhere are still throwing (or carrying, or driving) bombs into carriages, hoping that violence will bring about a peaceful and just society. It's an irony that wasn't lost on Albert Camus, and a story that he explored with great sympathy in The Just, now being performed by the Shotgun Players at the Ashby Playhouse. -- L.D. (Through April 3 at the Ashby Playhouse. or 510-841-6500.)

The Unexpected Man -- This last-minute replacement for Yasmina Reza's popular Art offers Bay Area audiences a rare glimpse at the French playwright's other work. Kevin T. Morales should be applauded for presenting this deliciously nuanced comedy at all, and his minimal staging gives the players room to unleash Reza's ample wit. The action is all inaction, alternating interior monologues of two strangers on a train: a misanthropic novelist stewing in bitterness because no one appreciates his latest book, and a huge fan of his work who finds herself seated across from him and unable to bring herself to start a conversation. -- S.H. (Through April 10 at Town Hall Theatre; or 925-283-1557.)

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