At the moment, San Diego theater features a slate of unusually murky fare; the above-mentioned Water and Power, for example, is heavier than Elton John after a really big meal. Maybe North Coast Repertory Theatre saw that coming when it decided to stage Don't Dress for Dinner, a farce about who's boning whom. Either way, this thing couldn't have come at a better time. Marc Camoletti's six motley characters are stuffed under the roof of a converted barn, left to sort out a mistaken identity and some impromptu sleeping arrangements. It all translates to one of the best North Coast shows of the last five years. Phil Johnson shines as hapless husband Bernard, and Rosina Reynolds directs to perfection—she has a brilliant bit of business for every single appropriate occasion, yet she doesn't overdo anything in the least. This hilarious piece runs through Nov. 16 at North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987-D Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach. $39-$45. 858-481-1055, www.northcoastrep.org.
1984: Big Brother takes on a life of his own as he bends the will of an entire society. Opens Oct. 31 at OnStage Playhouse, 291 Third Ave. in Chula Vista. $13-$15. 619-422-7787 or www.onstageplayhouse.org.
A Class Act: Music and nostalgia frame a look at the life of Ed Kleban, lyricist for A Chorus Line. Opens Oct. 31 at the Experimental Theatre on the SDSU campus. $18-$20. 619-594-6884, www.theatre.sdsu.edu.
* Bleeding Kansas: The slavery issue, a new resident with a scandalous lifestyle and heightened religious fervor threaten neighborly relations in the Kansas farmland. Produced by MOXIE Theatre, the show runs through Nov. 2 at Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd. in University Heights. $15-$25. 619-275-0332, www.moxietheatre.com.
Britannicus: Emperor Nero is in love—and the ensuing scandal shapes the fate of an empire. Through Nov. 23 at Compass Theatre, 3704 Sixth Ave. in Hillcrest. $20-$23. 619-688-9210, www.compasstheatre.com.
* Everything Will Be Different: Charlotte comes full circle amid her near-ruination at the hands of the men around her. Produced by Lynx Performance Theatre, the show runs through Nov. 23 at San Diego Danceworks, 2653 Ariane Drive in Clairemont. $10-$25. 619-889-3190, www.lynxperformance.com.
In a Dark, Dark House and Bash: These two plays feature dark secrets and ordinary people's capacities for committing unspeakable acts. Produced by Ion Theatre Company, the shows run in repertory through Nov. 1 at The Lab, The Academy for the Performing Arts, 4580-B Alvarado Canyon Road in Mission Valley. $23.50. 619-374-6894, www.iontheatre.com.
The Light in the Piazza: A closely guarded secret fuels the exposure of truths between a mother and daughter on holiday in Italy. Through Nov. 9 at Lamb's Players Theatre, 1142 Orange Ave. in Coronado. $20-$56. 619-437-0600, www.lambsplayers.org.
* Water and Power: Two brothers, flush with the temptations of new and immense influence, attempt to save themselves from the abyss of realpolitik. Produced by The San Diego Repertory Theatre and starring Culture Clash, the show runs through Nov. 16 at The Lyceum Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza, Downtown. $34-$39. 619-544-1000, www.sdrep.org. See our review on this page.