Chris White and Jessica Nicol White in Wrong for Each OtherThe opening scene of Norm Foster's Wrong for Each Other at Geneseo's Richmond Hill Barn Theatre had me worried that I was in for a fluffy, surface-level relationship comedy in which a divorced man and woman reunite after reminiscing about the happiest moments of their shared past. Thankfully, Wrong delved under that flimsy comedic surface and let viewers in on the arguments and unfortunate familial circumstances that steered the relationship of Rudy Sorenson (Chris White) and Nora Case (Jessica Nicol White) toward an inevitable separation. And while Wrong panders with a predictable ending and plenty of witty banter between the real-life newlyweds, the script felt the most natural, the most right, when its characters stopped putting so much effort into entertaining the audience, and focused on each other.

12 Angry Men ensemble members Near as I can tell, there are two types of people: those who like Reginald Rose's jury-room drama 12 Angry Men, and those who haven't seen it yet. So speedy and smart, so filled with personality and (mostly) unforced emotion, the work seems practically indestructible, and I actually fall into a special subset of people: those who love 12 Angry Men with a passion bordering on mania. (Between Sidney Lumet's 1957 film version and the 1997 television remake, I've watched it - and this is a conservative estimate - more than three dozen times.) So it was with nearly delirious excitement, and just a touch of dread, that I attended the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's Saturday-night presentation of the show, the first stage production of Rose's piece that I'd seen.

Sandy Stoltenberg & Jean Lupoli in The Trip to Bountiful Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful - which is opening the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's 2008 season on an awfully sweet note - is a lovely piece of theatre, but it's such an earnest, delicate little play that it requires all the effrontery and sass it can get.

Let's hear it, then, for Jean Lupoli, who takes what could've been a shrill, one-note caricature and fills it with such winning good humor and welcome meanness that she's utterly irresistible; despite much fine work by her co-stars, the production is practically unimaginable without her. The actress, so fresh and funny, gives Foote's small-scale, big-hearted elegy a true shot in the arm, and in all honesty, it frequently needs one.

Spiro Bruskas, Craig Michaels, and Scott Naumann in Flaming Idiots On Friday night, I attended a comedic farce that featured slamming doors, mistaken identities, gunshots, an unhelpful cop, a heavily accented mobster, an attractive woman getting sloppy drunk, and a finale that found characters staring with amazement at a briefcase filled with cash.

And on Saturday, I attended another one.

Generally, when attending a play at Geneseo's Richmond Hill Barn Theatre, it doesn't matter where you sit; the venue's shows are presented theatre-in-the-round-style, and more often than not, Richmond Hill's directors stage their works accordingly, giving audiences a fine view of the action from anywhere in the house.

Jessica Nicol and David Kintigh For its production of David Auburn's Proof, however, the theatre's playing area has been transformed into a three-quarter-thrust stage (Proof's front-porch setting designed against the Barn's fourth wall), and at the Friday-night performance I attended, the "best seats in the house," directly facing the set, were already filled by the time I arrived; instead, I took a seat on the stage-left side of the theatre. But for future Proof audiences - and I hope that includes many, many of you - who may find themselves in a similar situation, I'm here to tell you not to sweat the view in the least.

At roughly the halfway point of Richard Dresser's two-man comedy Rounding Third - currently playing at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre - Michael (Jim Driscoll), a sweet-tempered assistant Little League coach, asks the team's boisterous head coach, Don (Fred Harris Jr.), if they might enjoy a moment of silence; Michael and Don have shared a continual, often exasperated dialogue over several weeks of team play, and Michael wonders if perhaps quiet would be preferable to jabber. "Oh no," says Don. "We don't know each other well enough to not talk."

"It's a shame it all has to end," says our heroine, Lotty (Karrie McLaughlin), at the end of Playcrafters' Enchanted April. I completely agreed. The production currently running at Moline's Barn Theatre is unexpected in the best way possible: Who knew this light, frothy, harmless little romp could be this intoxicating?

After seeing the Friday night performance of Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's latest murder mystery, Fatal Attraction, one line stood out: "The American public will accept anything except being bored." Audiences don't have to worry, because there's no room for boredom during Bernard Slade's two-and-a-half-hour thriller. The action is almost non-stop, the characters are engaging, and the technical elements give the show a nice finishing touch.

In the course of 20 minutes, more than 150 audience members met a principal with a fetish for riding crops and black leather, a "chalk-dust"-using English teacher, and a Latin instructor with bad hygiene. Then the secretary was murdered and dinner was casually served.