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Critics’ picks: Theater

Samantha Richert (left) and Debra Wise in the Nora Theatre Company’s production of “The How and the Why.”

A.R. Sinclair

Samantha Richert (left) and Debra Wise in the Nora Theatre Company’s production of “The How and the Why.”

Opening

A BEHANDING IN SPOKANEMartin McDonagh’s dark comedy about a man searching for a hand that was cut off decades earlier, and the pair of scam artists in a rundown hotel who claim to have the missing body part. Oct. 12-27. Theatre on Fire. At Charlestown Working Theater, Charlestown. 866-811-4111, www.theatreonfire.org

THE LILY’S REVENGEWritten by and starring Taylor Mac alongside an ensemble of more than 30 that includes Remo Airaldi, Thomas Derrah, and John Kuntz, this is a five-act blend of dance, verse, music, and film. Oct. 12-28. American Repertory Theater. At Oberon, Cambridge. 617-547-8300, www.americanrepertorytheater.org

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DON AUCOIN

Now playing

THE HOW AND THE WHY You’ll have to wade through some scientific jargon in
Sarah Treem’s play about a graduate student and a renowned evolutionary biologist, but under the direction of Daniel Gidron, this cerebral drama solidifies into a well-drawn and satisfyingly intense clash of ideas and personalities. Through Oct. 21. Nora Theatre Company. At Central Square Theater, Cambridge. 866-811-4111, www.centralsquaretheater.org

THE [EXPLETIVE] WITH THE HATDirector David R. Gammons and his first-rate cast capture the jumpy rhythms of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s dark comedy about a newly paroled drug dealer who struggles to figure out the right way to live, even as he’s knocked for a loop by the discovery of a mysterious hat that suggests his girlfriend has been cheating on him. Through Oct. 13. SpeakEasy Stage Company. At Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.speakeasystage.com

DON AUCOIN

GOOD PEOPLE South Boston native David Lindsay-Abaire’s brilliant look homeward may seem like it’s about class issues, but there’s much more going on in his layered narrative of choices and personal integrity, beautifully directed by Kate Whoriskey. Johanna Day is wonderfully war-weary as the heroine, Margie, one of a cast of achingly imperfect characters in this Boston-set drama. Through Oct. 14. Huntington Theatre Company. At Boston University
Theatre. 617-266-0800, www.huntingtontheatre.org
TERRY BYRNE

Last chance

THE KITE RUNNERDirected by Elaine Vaan Hogue from Matthew Spangler’s adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel, and featuring an excellent performance by Nael Nacer, this is a compassionate, deeply moving, event-packed journey across eras, cultures, national boundaries, and the emotional terrain of tumultuous lives. The fact that the trip also includes a few detours into melodrama and hard-to-swallow coincidence doesn’t diminish its overall power. Through Oct. 7. New Repertory Theatre. At Charles Mosesian Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown. 617-923-8487, www.newrep.org DON AUCOIN

RAGTIME The 1998 musical adaptation is more faithful to E.L. Doctorow’s novel than is Milos Forman’s 1981 film, and Fiddlehead Theatre Company’s production kicks up its heels, with accomplished performances in the lead roles of Coalhouse Walker, Sarah, Mother, and Tateh, as well as generally excellent acting, singing, and dancing. Through Oct. 7. Fiddlehead Theatre Company. At Strand Theatre, Boston. 781-329-1901, www.fiddleheadtheatre.com

JEFFREY GANTZ

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