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Onstage: Mesmerizing works up close

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IT SORTA MAKES sense that 7 Stages director Melissa Foulger would order her Ted's bison burger plain. She's been working on Caryl Churchill's "Far Away," a minimalist play that needs no ketchup or mustard to provide a juicy evening of theater. Churchill's language may be streamlined in "Far Away" and "A Number," the two 60-minute plays running in tandem at 7 Stages, but the British playwright's ideas are meaty and complex.

With no fewer than 10 productions, readings and discussions in its Caryl Churchill Festival through Nov. 20, 7 Stages is giving Atlanta theater patrons something to chew on all winter.

Here's what you need to know about this banquet-style celebration of the prolific playwright's work.

WHO IS SHE? Churchill is 67 and lives in London. She's won five Obie Awards and written about everything from gender politics ("Cloud 9") to the Ceausescu regime in Romania ("Mad Forest.")

TRUTH IS: An intimate study of war, "Far Away" is about a young woman (Maia Knispel) who thinks she's seen her uncle commit an act of violence. Says Foulger: "She's terrified. She's sort of in shock, and her aunt [Joanna Daniel] is sort of trying to cover up what's going on . . . and tells her that she's part of something bigger." The woman and her husband (Johnell Easter) try to uncover the truth.

HOW "A NUMBER" ADDS UP: Directed by 7 Stages' Joe Gfaller, this smartly acted and designed show is about a father (Larry Larson) who has a series of confrontations with his three lookalike sons (John Benzinger), who have been cloned.

OTHER EVENTS: Readings of "Blue Heart" (Monday), "Icecream" (Tuesday), "Fen" (Nov. 14) and "Cloud 9" (Nov. 15).

FOULGER'S BLOG: Foulger has been documenting her work at

> THE 411: $20-$25; $55 for both shows and all readings. "A Number" and "Far Away": 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 5 p.m. Sundays. "Far Away" also runs 2 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. Nov. 10 and 6 p.m. Nov. 9 and 16. Catch the shows back-to-back on Friday ( "Far Away" at 8 p.m. and "A Number" at 9:30 p.m.). "A Number" runs through Sunday; "Far Away" through Nov. 20. 7 Stages, 1105 Euclid Ave. N.E., Little Five Points. 404-523-7647,

Copyright 2005 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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