THE WHIPPING MAN Though it takes a couple of detours into potboiler territory, Matthew Lopez’s drama is on balance an unflinching exploration, in vivid close-up, of slavery’s ugly legacy. Directed by Benny Sato Ambush and anchored by Johnny Lee Davenport’s fine performance as Simon, a former slave hoping to be reunited with his wife and daughter. Through Feb. 16. New Repertory Theatre, at Charles Mosesian Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown. 617-923-8487, www.newrep.org
VENUS IN FUR David Ives’s psychosexual pas de deux is brought to spellbinding life by Andrea Syglowski as a mysterious actress auditioning for a part in a new play and Chris Kipiniak as an arrogant playwright-director in for a few surprises. Through Feb. 2. Huntington Theatre Company, at Boston University Theatre. 617-266-0800, www.huntingtontheatre.org
THE COLOR PURPLE Director Paul Daigneault brings his usual vitality and dexterity to this musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s story about a woman who somehow emerges with her identity and spirit intact despite years of abuse. The strong cast includes Lovely Hoffman (above left) as Celie, Maurice Emmanuel Parent as Mister, and Crystin Gilmore (center) as Shug Avery. Through Feb. 8. SpeakEasy Stage Company, at Wimberly Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.speakeasystage.com
PINKALICIOUS A silly fable is transformed into a charming musical by director Mary G. Guaraldi and her talented troupe. A sense of curiosity and exploration combine with peppy tunes in a celebration of family and moderation. Through Feb. 2. Boston Children’s Theatre, at Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-424-6634, ext. 222, www.bostonchildrenstheatre.org.
TERRY BYRNEDon Aucoin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.