The Double Bass An unnamed double-bass player in a major symphony orchestra leads us through a 75-minute master class in the ways of his instrument and his heart. Written by German author Patrick Süskind (and invisibly directed by Philip Boehm), The Double Bass is a story of passion, and passion stifled, all channeled through a character of supreme civility. Because J. Samuel Davis is one of the most affable actors in town, it's easy to feel empathy for both Davis and his alter ego. Performed by Upstream Theater through February 14 at 305 South Skinker Boulevard (at Fauquier Drive). Tickets are $25 ($15 for students, $20 for seniors). Call 314-863-4999 or visit www.upstreamtheater.org.
— Dennis Brown
Romeo and Juliet A lavishly staged and powerfully acted production of Shakespeare's classic, ablaze with the crackling life of its '60s-era inner-city setting. Director Chris Anthony pays meticulous attention to the power of the language, lacing the theme of love's spiritually redemptive power with terrible moments of hate, lust and human frailty. Romeo (Nic Few) and Juliet (Sharisa Whatley) are immature and impetuous teenagers swept away by a maelstrom of passion. Chauncy Thomas crafts a Mercutio who's buck wild and full of life, while his foe, Tybalt (Tim Norman), imagines less and suffers just the same. Beautiful to look at, hip and whip-smart in execution and beautifully acted from its boisterous opening scene to the quiet, devastating finale that still offers an evocative, hopeful note. Presented by the Black Rep through February 14 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $17 to $43. Call 314-534-3810 or visit www.theblackrep.org.
— Paul Friswold