Capsule Reviews

The Hypochondriac Molière's 350-year-old comedy about a man who imagines he's at death's door closes out the second season for Classical Acting Company. The wickedly spindly Chamblee Ferguson plays Argan, the wealthy tightwad obsessed with loosening his bowels and tightening his control on a lovesick daughter. He wants her to marry a doctor (a lifetime of free health care!), but she's smitten with another. For a farce, this one occasionally feels a bit leaden (long scenes, off-key musical interludes). Ferguson turns in a winning performance, however, joined grimace-for-grimace by Chris Baldwin as a prissy young doc named Diarrheas, and Mark Shum in a variety of roles (one sticks him under a very funny poodle-curled wig). Emily Gray gets too obviously clowny as the maid Toinette. And will somebody jack up the A/C in this joint? The audience was sweating like malaria victims. Through July 10 at the Arena Theatre, Richland College, 12800 Abrams Road, 214-505-1655. Reviewed June 23. (Elaine Liner)

Misery Annie Wilkes loves the company of Paul Sheldon, the author of her favorite romance novels. Loves it a little too much. After nursing Paul's car wreck injuries in her remote mountain home, Annie holds him hostage until he types a new novel tying up loose ends for her beloved characters. Stephen King's killer-diller thriller made a dandy movie (and won Kathy Bates an Oscar as Annie), but writer Simon Moore has stripped the plot to the bone for the two-act stage adaptation. Now it's just the two characters, mano a mano to the shocking finish. Director Regan Adair, who's also a good actor, keeps his leads--yummily handsome David Brown and un-self-consciously frumpy Rachael Lindley--from overacting by making much of the action static instead of hysterical. For her scariest scene, Lindley steps into the dark to deliver her big speech, a move that makes it all much more terrifying. Through July 23 at Richardson Theatre Centre, 718 Canyon Creek Square, Richardson, 972-699-1130. Reviewed June 23. (E.L.)

Proof David Auburn's award-winning drama explores that delicate divide between genius and madness. Catherine (Jordan Cole) and her father, Robert (Steven Alan McGaw), are mathematical wonders. But their beautiful minds are threatened by schizophrenia. Dad is already too far gone to solve the great equations. But 25-year-old Catherine, scared that she may also slip into mental illness, teeters between depression and brilliance. When a young researcher, Hal (David Wilson-Brown), discovers an astounding new "proof" among Robert's notebooks, he is eager to publish it. But who's the real author? A madman or his college dropout daughter? The play asks fascinating questions. The first act ends with a humdinger of a cliffhanger. Act I Productions may have a low budget for sets and other technical details, but the cast is so good they light up the stage on their own. Continues through July 17 at the Corner Theatre, 211 E. Pleasant Run Road, DeSoto, 972-223-0139. Reviewed June 30. (E.L.)

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