Take Me Out: This Tony Award winner takes on an ambitious range of subjects - homophobia, tolerance, and the lure of baseball chief among them. The play offers two stories -- one, a dark drama about a major league slugger who is revealed to be gay, pitting him against a bigoted teammate. The other plot's a comedy, as the slugger befriends a gay accountant who is thrilled to discover the joys of sport. The Caldwell's visually striking production features a fine acting ensemble but both the story and the staging feel somewhat flat and the overall effect is somewhat less than might be hoped for. (Through July 18 at Caldwell Theatre Company, 7873 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton. 561 241-7432)
Summer Shorts: City Theatre's annual festival of short plays, a highlight of the South Florida stage scene, is back with mini comedies and dramas in all styles and sizes. Twenty playlets from one to 20 minutes long are presented in two separate programs, which can be taken in on separate nights or back to back with a catered meal in between. A versatile acting ensemble of nine assays all of the plays, under the direction of eight veteran directors. The fest includes a few duds among the sizzlers but the fast pace means the next winner is only minutes away. This year's version of City Shorts maintains the company's signature quick upbeat pace and breezy style, but it adds a certain political edge. A number of hot button issues are touched upon: gay marriage, same sex kissing, masturbation and, with the B Program's "A Speedy And Public Trial," a biting Kafkaesque critique of the Bush Administration's Patriot Act. There's nothing here you couldn't find on network television; the play selection limns a cultural geography that's white, upscale, gay-friendly, and left of center. That City's writers are individually raising such issues might be meritorious, but overall there's something missing here, something that's missing in virtually every South Florida theatre - a willingness to honestly give voice to and examine opposing socio-political views. (Through July 18 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 954-462-0222. www.citytheatre.com)
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