Stephen Belber’s haunting Rashomon-styled drama is powered by Morlan Higgins’ strong, emotionally nuanced performance. He plays four characters: a washed-up semipro football player; a damaged, miserable wife; a dog with a penchant for Byron and Tennyson; and a football coach. These people are linked by a common thread of guilt, violence and betrayal. The play shifts back and forth in time, and, through worlds of the living and the dead, we learn about the pathetic destiny shared by these characters, the malevolent impact that their relationships have had on them, and their respective perceptions and rationales for their actions. The subject matter is sordid and grim, but the craftiness of Belber’s script allows for some welcome moments of gallows humor, which Higgins masterfully exploits. Perhaps the most jarring irony among many is that the most sensitive and accessible monologue is that of a hapless dog betrayed by circumstance and bald cruelty. Matt Shakman’s staging is simple but forceful, as the tale unfolds against the visual backdrop of an urban area, witnessed as an aerial view; and it’s played out on a slightly cluttered, waterlogged stage. (800) 838-3006.

Thursdays-Sundays, 8 p.m., 2008

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