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The Gingham Dog, Phoenix Ascending. In Lanford Wilson's 1968 play about an upwardly mobile interracial couple breaking up after three years of marriage, neither Vincent nor Gloria can articulate the cause of their rift. He blames his wife's new Afrocentric activism. She blames the urban-renewal projects sponsored by her husband's employers. But the real reasons are far more personal.

There's nothing wrong with a play exploring serious issues, but Wilson's didactic this-is-how-I-feel dialogue never allows his characters to grow beyond their stances. Director Stephen Roath and designer Bonnie Bandurski struggle to re-create an era of rotary-dial phones and laissez-faire sex, while Mashari Bain and Damien Geoffrion try to breathe some humanity into the roles of Gloria and Vincent. The most interesting character is their drop-in neighbor, who has the best lines and provides much-needed relief from the grim social polemics.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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