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One of Lynda Barry's great strengths as a writer is her devotion to hope and fear as twin sources of strength. Her female characters, often outsiders because of their looks or social status, have an optimism about life but remain cognizant of the grim realities. The result are characters that fight the world not with anger but with joy — OK, and maybe a little anger at the injustice of it all. In her novel The Good Times Are Killing Me, twelve-year-old Edna watches in wonder as her predominantly white neighborhood transforms into a mixed one. Her new neighbor, Bonna, is black, and they share the same fascination in boys and rock & roll. But it's not just the neighborhood that's changing; the civil rights movement sweeps the country, gerrymandering new boundaries in music and in friendship, much to the dismay of both Edna and Bonna. Mustard Seed Theatre presents Barry's stage adaptation of her novel, The Good Times Are Killing Me, at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (April 17 through May 3) at the Fontbonne University Black Box Theatre (6800 Wydown Boulevard; 314-719-8060 or www.mustardseedtheatre.org). Tickets are $15 to $20.
Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: April 17. Continues through May 3, 2009

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