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The Shaker Chair 

When: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through Jan. 27 2008
Price: $20-$30

In Adam Bock's The Shaker Chair, a middle-aged widow with a yen for domestic neatness falls in with a gang of eco-terrorists. Even though it's a short play, and a very funny one at that, Bock gives us plenty to chew on, in part by leaving many details vague. The characters have a maddening habit of talking around the important parts. Their Mametian inarticulateness of sentence fragments and cross-talk is hard to pull off, but a superb cast does so beautifully in this Shotgun Players and Encore coproduction directed by Tracy Ward. It would be easy to make widow Marion into someone who just worries about whether people track mud on her floor, but Frances Lee McCain makes her the most grounded character in the room. Scarlett Hepworth is a bundle of nervous energy as firebrand Jean, Nancy Shelby delightfully flighty as hopeless romantic Dolly, and Will Marchetti marvelously infuriating as Dolly's two-timing husband Frank, who turns everything she says around on her to make her seem unreasonable. An uncredited pig also has a trot-on role. Through January 27 at the Ashby Stage, or 510-841-6500.-- Sam Hurwitt

— Sam Hurwitt


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