Ongoing In the Next Room or the vibrator play In the 1880s a society doctor specializes in curing women of hysteria. The good doctor has invented an electric vibrator that restores bloom to a woman's cheeks. But here's the rub: The doctor's overly protected wife decides she would like to procure some bloom for herself. Imagine Nora from Ibsen's A Doll's House trying to navigate her way through a Feydeau farce, and you get a sense of the deliriously original pleasures to be had from Sarah Ruhl's boundary-changing play. Ruhl's plays always force us to rethink the limits of our imaginations. Here her artistic delicacy allows the playwright to probe indiscreet situations. Although Act Two goes on for far too long, giving rise to the adage that there can indeed be too much of a good thing, In the Next Room delivers a rare evening of theater. Performed by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis at the Emerson Studio in the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $44 to $56. Call 314-968-4925 or visit www .repstl.org.
— Dennis Brown
Southern Baptist Sissies Del Shores' comic drama about growing up gay and Southern Baptist in Texas preaches a little bit to the choir, but that's by design. Shores knows his audience and supplies it with validation, along with some gentle criticism. So while gay Baptist Mark (James Slover) rails against the church's hypocrisy, barfly-cum-Greek chorus Peanut (Michael Shreves) laments the foolishness of a life wasted by hiding in gay bars. Shreves is hysterical, a catty and lecherous wit who destroys the audience at least twice. Slover and Drew Pannebecker (who plays the self-denying T.J.) are the soul of the play, however. Pannebecker's militant abnegation of his true self is fraught with tension — how long can he keep it up? — while Slover's slow-burning defiance of the church becomes a valiant rebellion by the end, one that sends us home with a manifesto to love one another better and more honestly. Presented by Citilites Theatre under the direction of G.P. Hunsaker through March 27 at the Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle Avenue. Tickets are $15 to $20. Call 314-773-1879 or visit www.citilitestheatre.com.
— Paul Friswold