Lore has it that the chamber orchestra aboard the RMS Titanic kept playing even as the ship was making its way below the surface—and chances are that the boys managed to attract an audience. We do seem to seek out magic despite the adverse nature of the times, like in Ronald Harwood's The Dresser, North Coast Repertory Theatre's current entry. Sir (Jonathan McMurtry), a headlining British actor during World War II, rakes in audiences nationwide even as Nazi bombs threaten to level the venues where he plays—the raging conflict is a metaphor for offstage personal dilemmas, and vice versa. McMurtry's played this kind of role a million times, but this is a pretty good show under David Ellenstein's direction and amid dresser Norman's (Sean Sullivan) good affectations. Too bad Harwood chose the overrated King Lear as a backdrop, though. The Dresser plays through Feb. 8 at North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987-D Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach. $35-$39. 858-481-1055, www.northcoastrep.org. Now playing
After-Play: Four longtime friends meet up after a Broadway show, discovering that time and distance have changed them more than they thought. Through Feb. 7 at OnStage Playhouse, 291 Third Ave. in Chula Vista. $13-$15. 619-422-7787, www.onstageplayhouse.org.
American Buffalo: Three punks talk a good game as they plot to rob a man of his coin collection, but their stupidity prevents the plan from leaving the drawing board. Through Feb. 15 at Compass Theatre, 3704 Sixth Ave. in Hillcrest. $20-$23. 619-688-9210, www.compasstheatre.com.
Doubt: Moral uncertainty is meticulously examined as a Roman Catholic nun suspects a priest has been messing with an altar boy. Produced by the San Diego Repertory Theatre, the show runs through Feb. 8 at The Lyceum Space, 79 Horton Plaza, Downtown. Call for prices. 619-544-1000, www.sdrep.org.
Love Song: Beane, a blissfully happy oddball, has a mysterious new love—and his sister Joan can't figure it out. Through Feb. 22 at Cygnet Theatre's Rolando venue, 6663 El Cajon Blvd. in the College Area. $22. 619-337-1525, www.cygnettheatre.com.
Since Africa: One of the Lost Boys of Sudan has made it to Chicago, harrowing story of survival in tow. Produced by The Old Globe, the show runs through March 8 at the Arena Stage, Copley Auditorium, San Diego Museum of Art, 1450 El Prado in Balboa Park. $29-$48. 619-23-GLOBE, www.oldglobe.org.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love and Other Modern Dilemmas: This trio of one-act plays features two couples and the intersecting tensions between them. Produced by Laterthanever Productions, the show runs through Feb. 1 at The Tenth Avenue Theatre, 930 10th Ave., Downtown. $25. 619-235-9353, www.laterthanever.org.
* Six Degrees of Separation: We're not genealogically separated by as much as you might think. Through Feb. 15 at The Old Globe Theatre mainstage, 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park. $29-$66. 619-23-GLOBE, www.oldglobe.org. See our review on this page.