Capsule Reviews

Living Out Lisa Loomer's 2003 play draws meaningful parallels between the stress-filled life of a Salvadoran nanny, Ana (Gigi Cervantes), and the conflicts a Los Angeles lawyer (Lydia Mackay) feels when she hires her. Both women are overwhelmed by mommy-guilt for leaving their kids with others, but the financial squeezes are very different (lawyer-mom has the big mortgage and fancy car). The lawyer considers the nanny a necessary luxury. For Ana, the $10-an-hour job (with lots of overtime) keeps her dream alive of bringing her older son from El Salvador to America. What starts out as a trenchant comedy about class divisions and existential crises moves gracefully toward tragedy by the end. But the playwright doesn't hammer the issues. And director Rene Moreno, always one for artistic subtlety, asks his cast of eight strong actors to take their sweet time in the process. A lovely production all around. Through June 19 at WaterTower Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison, 972-450-6220. Reviewed this week. (Elaine Liner)

The Nerd Larry Shue's comedy preceded the Revenge of the Nerds flicks by several years, but you'll recognize the title character as the same brand of stereotypical geek. Rick Steadman (Chris Dover) drops in on an army buddy (Shane Beeson) who barely remembers what he looked like back in Vietnam. There's a birthday party going on, but that doesn't faze pushy Rick, who shows up dressed for Halloween (long passed) in a Godzilla costume. Every move he makes, every breath he takes, we watch the guy get closer to the last nerve of his host and the host's pals (Christine Bush, Scott A. Eckert). When a Mr. Mooney-like boss (Michael Roe) comes to dinner and winds up playing Rick's ridiculous "Shoes and Socks" game, the nerd's days are numbered. It's silliness to the umpteenth power, but the cast keeps the pace lively. The youngest among them, Bert Merino as the boss' son Thor, might be the best child actor working a local stage. His meltdown at the sight of the green monster at the door is worth the price of the ticket. Through June 25 at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 E. Mockingbird Lane, Suite 119, 214-821-1860. Reviewed this week. (E.L.)

The Dinner Party Six guests receive a mysterious invitation to a party in a fancy Paris restaurant. Once they arrive, each is confronted by his or her ex-spouse. But who is responsible for this nervous gathering? And why is the door to the private dining room locked from the outside? Neil Simon's 31st play begins as a farce and ends up as a quasi-Christie mystery. Before they can sit down to a meal, the characters must talk out their differences with their much-despised exes. There's a lot of door-slamming and silly slapstick as each couple finds a reason to be alone for their big talk. The Contemporary Theatre of Dallas production does serve up some tasty performances from Tom Lenaghen, Cindee Mayfield and Lisa Fairchild. It's one of Simon's lesser efforts. Through June 19 at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, 5601 Sears St., 214-828-0094. Reviewed June 2. (E.L.)

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