Capsule Reviews

Tina Modotti The new biographical drama by Victor Hugo Rascón Banda (translated by Sara Cardona) doesn't do justice to the strange life and complicated passions of Modotti, an Italian-born early-20th century actress, photographer and Communist who served as a muse for Diego Rivera, Edward Weston and others during her years in Mexico. The 70-minute play lacks strong narrative structure and depends on awkward recitations of letters and speeches to provide Modotti's words. Teatro Dallas' cast, directed by Cora Cardona, offers uneven performances. Elena Harvey Hurst is the better of the two Tinas (and there are two because the playwright couldn't figure out how to structure the timeline for just one). Hector Hinojosa is a too-stiff Weston. The rest of the ensemble members double and triple as relatives, lovers and other figures in the title character's life. The scenic design by Nick Brethauer uses clean lines and Art Deco accents in black and white. If only the script were as elegantly rendered. Through October 8 at Teatro Dallas, 1331 Record Crossing Road, 214-689-6492. Reviewed this week. (Elaine Liner)

Wonder of the World A young wife named Cass (Kristin McCollum) unearths something strange and horrible from her husband's sweater drawer. Horrible enough to end their marriage. Husband Kip (Steven Walters) panics when Cass takes off for Niagara Falls, where she's determined to get a divorce and figure out the real meaning of her life. David Lindsey-Abaire's quixotic tale of a woman on a quest for true love takes some wacky twists and turns. Cass picks up a sidekick, Lois (Allison Tolman), whose own husband has kicked her out via a letter that begins "Dear Boozehound." Together, the two women reinvent themselves against the majestic roar of one of the wonders of the world (in case you'd forgotten). Second Thought Theatre barrels full steam ahead into the playwright's heightened reality, a place where marriage counselors wear clown suits and all the waitresses look exactly alike (thanks to a great performance by Ginger Goldman). As absurdist comedy, this one goes over the edge and makes quite a splash. Through October 2 at Frank's Place at the Dallas Theater Center, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd., 469-396-4345. Reviewed this week. (E.L.)

Bug The two-legged freaks battle six-legged ones in Tracy Letts' thoroughly fascinating dark comedy about paranoia, love and anarchy. Kitchen Dog Theater stages the two-act play in their tiny black box space, giving the audience an even better sense of the claustrophobia the characters feel in their cramped hotel room (great set by John M. Hobbie). Actors Diane Worman and Ian Leson bare all for their roles as troubled losers brought together by circumstance. Strong performances, too, by Christine Vela, Wm. Paul Williams and Mark Oristano. Jonathan Taylor makes a stunning debut as a new director at KDT. Great play, extraordinarily good acting give KDT their best season opener in years. Through October 8 at Kitchen Dog Theater at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave., 214-953-1055. Reviewed September 15. (E.L.)

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