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Critic’s picks: Theater

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THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE Performer Mona Golabek and director Hershey Felder create an atmosphere of quiet intimacy in this 90-minute solo show, a marriage of music and biographical storytelling. Recounting the tale of her own mother, an aspiring pianist who fled the Nazis as a girl, it’s as if Golabek is leafing through a family album, summoning memories and explaining why so many pages are empty. Through Dec. 16. ArtsEmerson. At Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theater, Paramount Center. 617-824-8400, www.arts

CHESAPEAKE A certain smugness about the lofty place of capital-A art and the ignorance of the philistines mars this solo play by Lee Blessing, but Georgia Lyman delivers a superb, many-shaded portrayal of a performance artist at loggerheads with a conservative Southern senator. Directed by Doug Lockwood. Through Dec. 16. New Repertory Theatre, Black Box Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown. 617-923-8487,

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