THE ELEPHANT MAN A spare production, directed by Jim Petosa, that proves 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
TRIBES Nina Raine’s exquisitely observed drama about a deaf young man, long eclipsed by his argumentative family, who forges an independent identity when he decides to learn sign language after meeting a young woman who is losing her hearing. 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.speakeasy
THE OTHER PLACE Sharr White’s 2011 play will keep you guessing as to what’s behind neurologist
Juliana’s medical “episodes,’’ why she’s divorcing her oncologist husband, Ian, why Ian doesn’t want her to reconnect with their estranged daughter, Laurel, and why the script keeps jumping from one place to another, one reality to another. This production doesn’t maintain the suspense as long as it might, but it offers a star turn from Debra Wise as Juliana and a heartwarming finish. Through Oct. 6. Nora Theatre Company and Underground Railway Theater.
At Central Square Theater, Cambridge. 866-811-4111,
COLUMBINUS (above) Running nearly three hours, this “theatrical discussion” focusing on the 1999 Columbine High School massacre starts with a generic first act about American high school misery and ends with an overlong third act looking back at the tragedy. But the performers put some compelling flesh on their stereotypes, and the second act, in which the massacre takes place, is harrowing. And there’s plenty to discuss afterward. Through Sept. 29. Production by American
Theater Company. Presented by ArtsEmerson. At Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre, Paramount Center. 617-824-8400, www.arts
Don Aucoin can be reached at email@example.com.