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Critics’ picks: Theater

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WINDOWMEN Steven Barkhimer wrote this gritty, funny look back at his days in New York’s Fulton Fish Market. It stars Alex Pollock, Will Lyman, and Brandon Whitehead. Through Nov. 24. Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. 866-811-4111, www.bostonplaywrights.org

JOEL BROWN

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THE TURN OF THE SCREW Staged in Victorian mansions — Gibson House Museum in the Back Bay and Taylor House Bed and Breakfast in Jamaica Plain — this haunting production takes advantage of Jeffrey Hatcher’s spare adaptation of Henry James’s tale. Director M. Bevin O’Gara effectively uses the tight playing space, suggesting eerie possibilities just out of sight. Through Nov. 23. Simple Machine. www.simplemachinetheatre.com

THE NORMAL HEART Nearly 30 years after Larry Kramer’s play became a rallying cry in the fight against AIDS, this production captures the fury and heartbreak of this powerful drama. Much of the credit for the impact goes to director and designer David J. Miller’s vision, which embraces the play’s polemics and its love story. Ultimately, this production reminds us of the devastating impact of AIDS and the vital importance of speaking up and being heard. (Pictured, from left: Victor Shopov, Mario Da Rosa Jr., David Lutheran.) Through Nov. 23. Zeitgeist Stage Company, Plaza Black Box Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.zeitgeiststage.com

THE HOBBIT Matthew T. Lazure’s creative costumes and elegant, two-tiered set stand out as the stars of this charming production. Lazure doesn’t need the film’s elaborate computer-generated animation, because he includes just the right elements to spark the imagination and create the right mood for Bilbo Baggins’s unexpected adventure. Andrew Barbato offers a pitch-perfect performance as Bilbo, while Stephen Benson is a remarkably agile and suggestively slimy Gollum. Through Nov. 24. Wheelock Family Theatre. 617-879-2300, www.wheelockfamilytheatre.org

TERRY BYRNE

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