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The Mystery Plays 

When: Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sun., Jan. 30, 2 p.m., Sun., Feb. 6, 2 p.m. and Sun., Feb. 20, 2 p.m. Continues through Feb. 26 2011
Price: $20
Writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasamay be known for his comic books and TV screenplays -- he worked on the fabulous HBO series Big Love -- but he's also a consummate playwright, as exemplified by two one-act mysteries currently in repertory at Masquers Playhouse. Under the direction of Patricia Inabnet, both The Filmmaker's Mysteryand Ghost Childrenget a real Fifties-era treatment, complete with a narrator (John Hull) to explain everything at the beginning and offer a final thought at the end. Hull pauses just long enough between sentences to let everything sink in, so that audience members can suck their thumbs and chew on the literary metaphors. Inabnet made excellent use of a small space and an apparent paucity of resources, blocking scenes in interesting ways and sending actors into the aisles. Both plays place a premium on script and dialogue, while deemphasizing set and spectacle -- granted, the set pieces are fairly primitive. In Ghost Children, Marti Hoskinsshines as the frazzled sister of a convicted murderer, grappling with her own culpability as an accomplice to the crime. Through February 26 at Masquers Playhouse (105 Park Place, Richmond).$20. 510-232-0431 or Masquers.org
— Rachel Swan

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