Tennessee Williams in Three Keys. The three one-acts at Germinal Stage are tone poems, mood pieces, as much about language as they are about character and action. They are also about love, loss and despair. Couples reach for each other but are unable to connect; each play ends in stasis. Like all great writers, Tennessee Williams creates a world all his own, a place of lonely people suffering passions so huge they can never be fully expressed or fulfilled. These plays represent fragments of that world. In "Talk to Me Like the Rain," a couple inhabits a sleazy room on New York's Lower East Side. The Man has been sleeping off a three-day drunk; The Woman is one of those fragile, partially demented Williams heroines. In response to The Man's urgent request that she talk to him, she launches into a monologue in which she imagines herself living alone by the sea, growing older and older until she's finally obliterated by the wind; Trina Magness is nothing short of magnificent in the role. The second play is the slightest of the three, but the third, "I Can't Imagine Tomorrow," features another brilliant performance, this time from Ed Baierlein. In a mournful duet performed by a dying woman and her friend, a man who has trouble speaking, he makes stillness and silence riveting. Presented by Germinal Stage Denver through July 9, 2450 West 44th Avenue, 303-455-7108, www.germinalstage.com. Reviewed June 22.
The Yiddish Are Coming. There are many, many ways for a production to be awful, and this one hits on just about all of them. It's a cheap little venture -- small cast, easy set and costumes, empty-headed concept -- put together for the sole purpose of making money. Just as Menopause the Musical was calculated to appeal to a specific market, Yiddishis intended to attract Denver's sizable Jewish population for an evening of drinks, shmoozing and easy laughs at $34.50 a ticket -- but naturally, you don't want to annoy that population with anything that might make them think, gasp or argue. The premise: Temple Ben Shtiller wants to win this year's Golden Tchotchke Award for the best performance by a synagogue, wresting the prize away from brash, conceited, nine-year winner Mitzi Katz. So the members decide to hire an out-of-work director named Christian Von Trapp, who whips everyone into shape. The tunes are lively and the performers are talented, but the production values are sleazy. Presented by the New Denver Civic Theatre through July 16, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-309-3773, www.denvercivic.com. Reviewed June 29.