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Stone Cold Dead

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Serious Though Adam Rapp has had considerable success as a playwright, filmmaker, and author of controversial young-adult novels, his works are often marred by cliched characters, long-winded scenes, and gratuitously cruel and nihilistic outbursts. This 2003 play is about a young man's perhaps delusional attempt to save his crass, dysfunctional, poverty-stricken midwestern family from itself. But Rapp wanders from his theme to gross us out with a moment in which the protagonist's unemployed, flatulent, alcoholic father suffers an attack of diarrhea. In this midwest premiere director Joanie Schultz and her fine ensemble, led by Jennifer Mathews, do all they can to play up what works in Rapp's work and downplay what doesn't. --Jack Helbig a Through 2/18: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Circle Theatre, 7300 W. Madison, Forest Park, 708-771-0700, $21-$23.

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