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Aphra Behn

At Rep Stage, a promising bow — 'Or,' maybe not

Handout art for 'Or,' at Rep Stage

In live theater, self-consciousness is contagious. When it begins in the text, the playwright gives it to the director, the director passes it to the actors, and the actors infect the audience. An hour or so after the curtain rises, everyone is squirming in his cushioned seat and imagining what's going on at home.

From this viewer's perspective, that is the case with Rep Stage's season-opening premiere of "Or," at Howard Community College. It's something of a send-up of Restoration theater, and something more of a cross-dressing, door-slamming farce. But it never transcends the one thing it is above all else: The very public spectacle of a playwright...