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On an Average Day. Some of the best acting you'll see anywhere. A brilliantly putrid set design. Haunting sound effects. Taut direction. On an Average Day has all the hallmarks of a first-rate production — but unfortunately, the play itself feels like an early exercise, full of sound and fury, signifying not much of anything. John Kolvenbach is obviously a talented playwright, and I suspect we'll have great things from him someday. But this story sounds as if the sibling rivalry of Sam Shepard's True West (including the primal fight scene) had been stuck into some kind of pointless Waiting for Godot universe and written up with a nod to the elliptical mysteries lurking behind Harold Pinter's dialogue. Robert is a sometimes blubbery, sometimes very amusing mess — self-pitying, paranoid and delusional. He's living in the run-down house where he and his older brother, Jack, grew up and facing a prison term for a pointless act of violence. Enter business-suited Jack, who seems to have his act far more together, but in fact has demons of his own. The dialogue is often very, very good and unexpectedly funny, and both Michael Kingsbaker as Robert and Brian Shea as Jack are completely immersed in their roles. Director A. Lee Massaro has assembled first-rate talent on the technical side, too. But despite all this, the ending is so anti-climactic that you walk out wondering what you've just seen. Presented by Curious Theater Company through July 23, 1080 Acoma Street, 303-623-0524, Reviewed July 7.

Romeo and Juliet. The casting for this Romeo and Juliet is unusually strong, at least with Jamie Ann Romero as a tender and radiant Juliet. As Romeo, Benjamin Bonenfant is an absolute charmer through the first half of the evening, quieter and more feeling than his friends, funny in his romantic hormonal confusion, moving in his interactions with Juliet — but when things go drastically wrong, the performance falters. The more Romeo grieves, the more Bonenfant runs his words together into an undifferentiated stream. Yes, Romeo is sometimes a blubbering child — after all, he is not much older than Juliet — but we'd like to see him man up by the death scene. Geoffrey Kent's Mercutio is juicy, funny and energetic. His rendition of the Queen Mab speech is superb, a textbook example of how to vivify a monologue everyone has heard a thousand times before. Where Juliet's Nurse is often a chattering fool, an irrelevance, Leslie O'Carroll makes her flesh and blood — a feisty peasant, full of warmth and humor, limited in her way but so essentially strong that she easily removes the sting from the shameful scene in which Romeo's friends torment her. If ever there was a woman, peasant or no, who could take on these callow young aristocrats, it's this Nurse. In Mark Rubald's hands, Lord Capulet changes from a reasonably kind authoritarian to a family head so violent that you're forced to understand why the Nurse gives in to him, and Lady Capulet — an intense, etched-in-acid portrayal by Karen Slack — turns on Juliet with a mix of vindictive rage and baffled tenderness. By our standards, Lord Capulet is a batterer. By the standards of his time, he's just doing what's expected. If you want to find the root of the tribalism that dooms young love, look no further than here. Lynne Collins has directed a clean, swift, well-orchestrated production, with loads of adrenaline and testosterone sloshing around, a few stumbles and many nice touches. Presented by the Colorado Shakespeare Festival through August 13, Mary Rippon Theatre, University of Colorado at Boulder, 303-492-0554, Reviewed July 7.

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