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Critics’ picks: Theater

Tribes.”

Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo

James [Joey] Caverly in “Tribes.”

THE SEAGULL Robert Kropf directs his own pared-down adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s classic drama. Kropf’s cast delivers vividly etched portrayals of unhappy people trapped in a narrow, stifling orbit as they try to resolve those Chekhovian dilemmas: art, love, existence. Through Sept. 22. Harbor Stage Company, at Modern Theatre at Suffolk University, Boston. 508-349-6800, www.harborstage.org

THE ELEPHANT MAN In this spare production, directed by Jim Petosa, Bernard Pomerance’s drama still has the power to shake us. Tim Spears delivers a performance of skill, heart and conviction in the title role. Through Sept. 29. New Repertory Theatre, Charles Mosesian Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown. 617-923-8487, www.newrep.org

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TRIBES Nina Raine’s drama concerns a deaf young man (James [Joey] Caverly), long eclipsed by his argumentative family, who forges an independent identity when he decides to learn sign language. Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara, it features some of the finest ensemble acting seen on any Boston stage this year. Through Oct. 12. SpeakEasy Stage Company. At Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.speakeasystage.com

DON AUCOIN

THE LIBERTINE Terrific acting elevates this production of Stephen Jeffreys’s play about John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester, a Restoration wit who drowned his existential doubts in drink and whoring. The unusual venue – audience and players alike occupy the stage, with the curtain mostly closed – adds an appropriate back-alley exclusiveness. Through Sept. 22. Bridge Repertory Theater of Boston, in partnership with Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company of New York. At Wimberly Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.bostontheatrescene.com

JOEL BROWN

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