God of Carnage. Let's start with the setting, so pristine, white, minimal and tasteful — chairs with gracefully curving legs, a glass table on which art books are meticulously arranged, a vase of white tulips, nicely grouped. Even if you didn't know the play's title, you'd know what's about to happen in this room: mayhem, fury, disintegration and chaos. And believe me, the evening doesn't disappoint. We're in the home of Veronica and Michael Novak. He's a businessman specializing in household goods, she's an art-loving do-gooder currently at work on a book about Darfur. Their visitors are the Raleighs: Alan, a sharklike lawyer, and his wife, Annette, a wealth-management specialist in a sharply well-defined suit. The couples' eleven-year-old sons got into a fight on the playground, and now the four parents have come together to talk about the altercation and agree on a course of action. Things are amicable for a while, but once the veneer starts to slip, it slips more crazily than you could ever have imagined. You think rage will erupt because the parents are protective of their children, but in fact, no one expresses a shred of interest in those boys. You think the issue is going to be Alan's work: He represents a pharmaceutical company that deliberately hid information about the dangers posed by one of its drugs — a drug it turns out Michael's mother is taking. You think cracks will appear in the marriages or the men will gang up on the women or the women on the men. And indeed, almost all of this happens — but never in the way you expect. Which is why this is one of the funniest ninety minutes you'll ever spend in a theater. Presented by Curious Theatre Company through June 16, 1080 Acoma Street, 303-623-0524, curioustheatre.org. Reviewed May 2.
Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical. There was a time when many young people believed they could levitate the Pentagon by surrounding it, holding hands and chanting; dissuade a soldier from killing by placing a flower in the barrel of his gun; and put an end to war, corruption, racism, repression and pollution through nakedness, love-making and blowing dope. They signified their membership in the hippie tribe by going barefoot, wearing colorful, frayed clothes and — since conventional America frowned on long hair and beards — sporting lush Afros or flying tresses. We're all sadder and wiser now, but if anything can capture the spirit of the late 1960s, the hope, humor, idealism and sheer inspired zaniness, it's the rock musical Hair, now being beautifully presented at Littleton's Town Hall Arts Center. Director Nick Sugar brings Hair
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into the present without preaching, while remaining completely true to the spirit of the 1967 original. The show was revolutionary for its time in both form and content. There's not much plot, because it was created largely through improvisation. The first act is pure celebration, an almost seamless sea of music and dance. The second is pretty much a mess, though an entertaining and evocative one — a mishmash of images and ideas all vaguely touting freedom, questioning history and attacking core American myths. The tone is cheerfully iconoclastic throughout, with the Tribe extolling the pleasures of "Hashish" and "Sodomy" in song, and African-American Hud introducing himself as a "colored spade, a nigger...a jungle bunny, jigaboo, coon." Among the things that make this production exciting are Donna Kolpan Debreceni's exuberant musical direction, Sugar's smart, sexy choreography, and the unshowy time-period perfection of Linda Morken's costumes. Presented by Town Hall Arts Center through June 16, 2450 West Main Street, Littleton, 303-794-2787, townhallartscenter.com. Reviewed June 6.