ON STAGE

An occasional update of New York City theater happenings

*Don Juan in Chicago (Primary Stages): Comic playwright David Ives, whose evening of short plays, ''All in the Timing,'' is nearing its 500th performance Off Broadway, weighs in with this decidedly more ambitious effort. ''Don Juan in Chicago'' is a full-length, three-act comedy about the legendary lover. The first act, which is almost entirely in rhyming verse, details how Don Juan (Simon Brooking) made his pact with the devil; he will live forever, as long as he can seduce a different woman every night. The second and third acts, set in present-day Chicago, depict the Don and his hapless servant Leporello (Larry Block) as they attempt to maintain the pact in the health-conscious 1990s. Despite some genuinely funny moments, an excellent production, and an expert comic cast, this 2-1/2 hour play, which spews out a nearly constant stream of one-liners, grows progressively tiresome.

*Incommunicado

(Judith Anderson Theatre): Playwright Tom Dulack (''Breaking Legs'') examines American poet Ezra Pound's 1945 incarceration in an Allied military base for treason after the poet had made a series of radio broadcasts, many anti-Semitic, during the war. The play takes too long to get going and never achieves a full narrative thrust, but the subject is fascinating, the production has been strikingly directed, and Tom Aldredge delivers a powerful, complex performance in the lead role. A dramatic highlight is the scene in Act II when we are given a sample of Pound's speeches in all their bombastic, hateful fury.

*Awake and Sing

(Playhouse 91): The Jewish Rep presents a 60th anniversary Off Broadway revival of Clifford Odets's classic. It features the emotional and financial struggles of a Jewish family in the Bronx in the 1930s, headed by a strong-willed, nearly tyrannical matriarch. Infused with Odets's political idealism, it is also a powerful, human story. This production has its rough patches, but there is a fine cast, including Tovah Feldshuh, Stephen Lang (one of our most captivating actors, here pulling out all the stops), and Avery Schreiber.

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