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Of the Earth 

When: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 5 p.m. and Wednesdays, 7 p.m. Continues through Jan. 30 2011
Price: $17-$60

The ancient Greeks left most things in the lap of the Gods, but playwright Jon Tracy sees a motivation behind every action. Thus, the issue of free will looms large in each of his works, including those that tackle Greek mythology. This month he presents the second of two "Salt Plays" produced under the auspices of Shotgun Players. The first, which debuted this summer, focused on Homer's Iliad; this one, titled Of the Earth, reexamines The Odyssey through a contemporary lens. It's high-concept and low-tech, with actors constantly banging drums in the background. Tracy repurposes several actors from previous plays, such as Anna Ishida, who plays a virulent Poseidon, and CharisseLoriaux, a snaky, seductive Circe. Resonances between the Trojan War and the current occupation of Iraq certainly aren't lost on Tracy; he brings them out in creative ways. Lloyd Vance's haunting video projections are both an extension of the characters' psychology and an enhancement of Nina Ball's sparse set design. Through January 16 at The Ashby Stage (1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley). $17-$30.

— Rachel Swan


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