The Monkey Jar
At a close-knit charter elementary school, a struggling fourth-grader (Josh Ogner) brandishes a gun at his teacher, Mr. Dori (Henry Hayashi). The district's rule book is clear: expulsion. Muddying the waters, however, the gun is a nonfunctioning relic, and the teacher has a well-known animosity toward the boy, whose learning disability he thinks is simply learned helplessness. Only months into his governance as the school's first black principal, Mr. Rees (Mark Berry) must satisfy everyone with his resolution the kid's bewildered parents (Sally Saffioti and Richard Horvitz), a meddlesome PTA doyenne (Addie Daddio), an empathetic district psychologist (Amy Tolsky) and the enraged teacher before he goes public and ruins everyone's reputation. Playwright Richard Martin Hirsch has set up a credible and inextricable trap that teeters into issue overload. Though Warren Davis' production is engrossing, the parents' scenes are discordantly screwball; Act 2 rehashes the problem in ever louder voices before homing in on what feels like the least-satisfying solution. But among the script's strong achievements is the tightly wound Mr. Dori, an undeniably good if authoritarian teacher who's proud that his kids score in the state's top 5 percent, and bristles at the insinuation that spurring them to achieve doesn't prove that he cares. Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m.; Mondays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Feb. 2. Continues through March 9, 2008
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