Capsule Reviews

Macbeth Theatre Britain revs up the spooky old Scottish play with speed, sex and S&M-inspired costumes. Steve Pounders plays the ambitious Thane of Cawdor, determined to murder his way to the top job as king of Scotland. Down go Macduff, Duncan and several more rivals, stabbed, poisoned and otherwise offed. Macbeth is Tony Soprano at heart but, in the case of Pounders, that's where similarities end. This actor is buff, and the minimalist, leather-trimmed culottes he wears give his impressive musculature plenty of air. Here's a Macbeth who's turned Castle Dunsinane's dungeon into a gym. Director Robin Armstrong works with a good-looking young cast (seven men, two women) able to zip in and out of multiple roles. Sue Birch gives her Lady Macbeth reason to follow her husband into homicide--she's hot for his bod. Through April at Trinity River Arts Center, 2600 N. Stemmons Freeway, Suite 180, 972-490-4202. Reviewed this week. (Elaine Liner)

The Secret Garden A forgotten plot of land, walled up for years, is rediscovered and brought back to life by a lonely orphan living in a gloomy Yorkshire manor. Frances Hodgson Burnett's story of young Mary Lennox and her friends Dickon and Colin has been a children's favorite for nearly a century. In this faithful stage adaptation, the children's roles are front and center, with able assistance by grown-up actors playing various servants, doctors and others. Director Artie Olaisen keeps the pace languid and lyrical, each scene gently folding into the next. And on Zak Herring's lush set, the bedraggled garden grows new blooms before our eyes. Keep a lookout for that friendly robin too. At the performance reviewed, young actors Pam Covington (as Mary), Matt Savins (Dickon) and Matthew Brown (Colin) did everything right. Through April 23 at Dallas Children's Theater, 5938 Skillman St., 214-740-0051. Reviewed this week. (E.L.)

I Am My Own Wife That she is. Charlotte von Mahlsdorf also is her own best friend, plus some Nazis, Communists, lovers, relatives and even her own playwright, Doug Wright. All are revealed through the body and voice of Canadian actor Damien Atkins in Dallas Theater Center's production of the one-actor Pulitzer- and Tony-winning drama. Wright discovered Charlotte, a lifelong transvestite and dedicated furniture collector, on a trip to the former East Germany in the early 1990s. From a series of interviews, the Dallas-born playwright fashioned this two-act narrative that encapsulates German gay history from World War II through the fall of the Berlin Wall. Atkins' performance is technically astonishing, not to mention his memory for all that dialogue, but the overall effect of Wife is unmoving, rather like a guided tour through a dusty museum. Through March 26 at Dallas Theater Center, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd., 214-522-8499. Reviewed this week. (E.L.)

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