On Stage 

Our critics weigh in on local theater

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."

Blue/Orange -- Are the people we call crazy really insane, or are they having a logical response to a world gone mad? That's the question rebellious Scottish psychotherapist R.D. Laing posed in the 1960s. In Blue/Orange, British playwright Joe Penhall takes Laing's questions up a level by pitting two British doctors against each other, the prize being young Jamaican man Christopher. Their patient is scheduled to leave a state-run hospital after a 28-day "Section 2" stay, but cleverly Penhall never gives away exactly what got Christopher "sectioned," choosing instead to focus on how he becomes the wishbone -- a smart, charismatic, and potentially dangerous wishbone -- upon which the two other men tug. -- L.D. (Through May 15 at the Aurora; AuroraTheatre.org or 510-843-4822.)

Impact Briefs 7: The How-To Show -- The briefs in question aren't short plays so much as skits unified by a clever "how-to" theme. Fortunately, they're very funny: Dave Dyson's slideshows such as How to Survive Being Stranded on a Deserted Traffic Island and How to Avoid Drowning in Two Inches of Water speak for themselves hilariously. The strongest shorts are two by Wayne Rawley, "How to Ask the Scary Question," about relationship angst that predictably leads somewhere unpredictable, and a brilliant boardroom scene in which corporate eight-year-olds take a meeting about the possible pros and cons of liking girls. -- S.H. (Through May 28 at La Val's Subterranean; ImpactTheatre.com or 510-464-4468.)

Proof -- This Pulitzer- and Tony-winning 2001 play by David Auburn about the genius daughter and erstwhile caretaker of a recently deceased and long-addled mathematician touches upon some interesting issues of gender and politics in the sciences, if only glancingly, and this lively community theater production directed by John McMullen brings out its humor admirably. -- S.H. (Through May 7 at Masquers Playhouse; Masquers.org or 510-232-4031.)

West Side Story -- The new production of West Side Story helmed by Grant Rosen for the Diablo Light Opera Company shows off his considerable chops as a choreographer and fight designer. Meshed with excellent visuals -- a dark and gritty set, beautiful lighting, and bright, sherbety dresses with contrasting crinolines -- this take on the Jerome Robbins musical is vividly cinematic. -- L.D. (Through May 8 at the DLRCA; DLOC.org or 925-943-SHOW.)

WWJD? -- Political satire meets the medieval morality play in Eastenders Repertory Company's new offering by Scott Munson, and the meeting goes about as smoothly as Abbott and Costello's meeting with Frankenstein's monster. Chronicling the fall and resurrection of Federal Reserve chairman Charles Mal de Mer, the play boasts a capable ensemble cast who run around making scattershot sociopolitical points in myriad archetypal/stereotypical roles. The broad comedy, with huge flailing gestures and dialogue that's all setups and punch lines (or at least nudge-lines), would be well suited for a child's attention span, were it not for the sex, drugs, and violence. Playing in repertory with Eastenders founding artistic director Charles E. Polly's post-9/11 angstapalooza, A Knight's Escape. -- S.H. (Through May 15 at the Ashby Stage; 510-568-4118 or Eastenders.org)


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