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Chilly Scenes of Pinter

Stages shines in three playlets by Britain's master of the enigmatic

The two shorter pieces work better than the last one-act, in part because by the time of The Collection the audience has started to wear thin from so much non-narrative vagueness. "My plays are getting shorter," Pinter said some time back. "Words are so tender. One-act plays are all I seem to be able to write at the moment." These one-acts at Stages are tender indeed, if menace can cohabitate with softness in the same work. Although Pinter doesn't provide any ready-to-wear dramatic answers -- and his cryptic plays certainly don't hook everyone -- he's curiously effective at evoking the enigmatic human mind and heart.

"A Kind of Alaska," an evening of plays by Harold Pinter, plays through February 12 at Stages Repertory Theater, 3201 Allen Parkway, 527-8243.

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