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Misanthrope 

When: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through June 21 2009
Price: $21

In his contemporary adaptation of Molière's 17th-century comedy, Le Misanthrope, Central Works director Gary Graves took the title character and put him in a new laboratory. Alan the misanthrope (Darren Bridgett) is a surly, Pepto-Bismol-swilling newspaper reporter who is honest to a fault. His improbable love interest is giddy, flirty Celia, a socialite who hosts parties with loud music and cocaine, and keeps a stable of young bachelors at her beck and call. Party-boy Phil (Michael Navarra) is Alan's competition. He drives a V4 Roadster that strikes Alan as a kind of phallic metaphor. Pared down from the source material, Graves' setup has the makings of a perfect love triangle. He spends the first half developing each of the characters, and the second half letting them try -- and fail -- to deceive one another. The drama unfolds deliciously, as social pretensions dissolve and motivations get revealed. By the end, we get to see how damaged and vulnerable everyone really is. The Misanthrope runs through June 21 at Berkeley City Club (2315 Durant Ave.). CentralWorks.org


— Rachel Swan

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