Philosophers and playwrights like to tackle big questions, though when a playwright writes like a philosopher it takes a special audience to appreciate the result. Noah Haidle’s play, Smokefall, eloquently challenges that special audience and those who rise to the challenge will be richly rewarded…

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What if you knew that this evening was your last on earth? What would you do? And, to complicate matters further, what if you were the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and you had this information? That’s the premise of Katori Hall’s play, The Mountaintop, now through March 31 at San Diego REP’s Lyceum Space. Full of twists and turns, this West Coast premiere may not entirely satisfy, but it will engage.

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On the surface John Doe is about a man (Michael Nieto) who ends up in a hospital emergency room with no identification and apparently in a coma. He is cared for by one nurse in particular (Rachel Propst), who takes a liking to him without knowing anything about him. Also hanging about are five fairly stereotypical and one-dimensional men who are not seen by the staff but who watch the goings on from a set of waiting room chairs. A sixth character (Jane Lui), who it turns out, is John’s wife, flits in and out like a mental case, clinging to one or more of the men.

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