The consistent humor flows mostly from personality and situation, not jokes, as the play gently raises ideas about friendship, expression and the walls we humans build around ourselves.

Playwright Peter Tolan has a good ear for how friends talk — they know what buttons to push, for one thing. And under the direction of Jamie DeHay, actors Jay Pastucha (shy Doug) and Kurt Roth (brash Aaron) charmingly depict the awkwardness that can come with male friendship in our society.

Pastucha and Roth have a younger-sounding Jerry-George vibe from the old "Seinfeld" sitcom. Even as they drive each other nuts with their tics and neuroses, the underlying affection is clear.

The playwright tantalizingly leaves unanswered questions about the guys. With a piece this entertaining and polished, let's hope there's a sequel.

35 mins. Rated M. Purple venue. Shows: 5-22, 9:15 p.m.; 5-24, 6:45 p.m.; 5-25, 6 p.m.; 5-26, 8 p.m.

Matthew J. Palm

'Teaching Shakespeare'

College Professor Keir Cutler thinks Shakespeare is the center of the universe. Indisputably. Fanatically. Insanely?

In Cutler's laugh-a-minute classroom parody, he is "Teaching Shakespeare." But it's not teaching as we think of it. Cutler, you see, is the sort of instructor so in love with his subject, he won't even consider criticism of the playwright.

"Assume the author is infallible," he pontificates. "Defend everything about him."

He's spoofing the Shakespeare faithful, of course, but you can substitute any fanboy (or fangal) obsession of your choice. What tempers the silliness is the pathetic air that hangs over Cutler, lost and alone in his Shakespeare love.

Even while being pompous, he seems pathetic — a difficult feat and one that generates laugh after laugh. Cutler, it turns out, has just received evaluations from his students — and let's just say they aren't good.

He rails about how theaters have ruined, yes, ruined Shakespeare by taking the emphasis off the words. (His advice: If you must see a Shakespeare play, "bring your text, a flashlight, and read.")

His fervor wrings every last laugh out of this. Shakespeare haters will get the joke. And Shakespeare lovers — if they have a sense of humor — will be rolling in the aisles.

50 mins. Rated G-14. Yellow venue. Shows: 5-24, 5 p.m.; 5-25, 6 p.m.

Matthew J. Palm

'Underneath the Lintel'

Spellbinding. And yet, the ingredients aren't the usual witches' brew: A pair of trousers. A laundry claim ticket. One extremely overdue library book. It's this last item that begins the journey of the Librarian, who we meet as a fussy, obsessive man. These are the traits that jolt him out of his insular world on a globe-trotting quest to track down the last owner of a book returned 123 years late. What he finds instead is — at the very least — a whole new reason to live. At most, it is proof of the existence of God.

As the Librarian, Pat O'Brien does full justice to Glen Berger's script in this one-man show. A veteran screen actor, O'Brien comes equipped with a bug-eyed stare that puts every frayed nerve of his character on display – often to great comic effect. Keeping up with him on his breakneck pace through history, philosophy and myth may require a seat belt. It's worth it.

60 mins. Rated G. Yellow venue. Shows: 5-25, 11:15 p.m.; 5-26, 3 p.m.

Tod Caviness

Orlando Fringe Festival

What: Short plays, music, comedy and other performances; plus an art show and weekend activities for kids

Where: Performances at Loch Haven Park, 777 E. Princeton St.; Theatre Downtown, 2113 N. Orange Ave.; and The Venue, 511 Virginia Drive. Visual Fringe art at 1427 Alden Rd.

When: Through May 28

Tickets: Buy a Fringe button ($9) at the festival to participate (not required for children 12 and younger). Then, show tickets are $11 or less. Kids Fringe and Visual Fringe are free.

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