Wilder Times

When: Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. and Tuesdays, 7 p.m. Continues through Dec. 9 2012

Marvelously staged with cogency and great humor, Aurora's Theatre's Wilder Times is a grouping of Thornton Wilder one-act plays that consider the stages of life from infancy through old age. In each, Wilder looks at a different phase of human development, from babyhood to childhood to parenthood and on -- surrealistically -- through spans of lifetimes, and several circles of life. Barbara Oliver's smart and tight production reveals family connections and the disconnect between generations. Infancy is a broad comedy in which grown men play babies in lace bonnets, frustrated by the adults around them. Childhood takes the generation gap to a darker place as a game of pretend turns out to be not very fun. The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden bears a resemblance to Our Town in its bare-bones narrative and unadorned directness.And The Long Christmas Dinner is a brilliant blend of realism and modernism as one family meal lasts a century, time moving fast as lightning and slow as paint. These shorts are funny, touching and extremely well performed. Through December 9 at Aurora Theatre (2081 Addison St., Berkeley). $32-$50. 510-843-4822 or AuroraTheatre.org

Erika Milvy

Price: $32-$60

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