“Pack of Lies” is a taut spy drama set during the height of the Cold War. Good Theater is running this show through March 8 in Portland. Steve Underwood

Drama, music and modern dance are among the top offerings on the performing arts calendar this coming week.

My top pick is “Pack of Lies,” a powerful drama revolving around Cold War spies in Britain. Good Theater has superbly produced this taut, tense play, which keeps a tenacious grip on audiences from start to finish. “Pack of Lies” runs through March 8 in Portland.

Pure, unadulterated guitar virtuosity is Johnny A.’s shtick. This renowned master of the modern electric guitar will perform this Friday in Portland.

Malpaso Dance Company is a modern terpsichorean troupe from Cuba that exudes energy and excitement at every stop on its current tour. Malpaso performs Wednesday, Feb. 26, a featured appearance in Portland Ovations’ “Raise the Barre” series.

‘Pack of Lies’

The time is the late 1950s, at the height of the Cold War. The Soviet Union possesses a large fleet of submarines, but their effectiveness is stymied by British electronic detection and tracking techniques and other countermeasures. If only the Soviets could figure out what’s in the Royal Navy’s bag of electronic tricks, they could gain control of the high seas. To that end, the Soviets slip a band of spies into Britain, and they find some success. Can they be stopped?

That’s the situation that drives “Pack of Lies,” a fine drama by High Whitemore that’s running at Good Theater. The play debuted on Broadway in 1983, and producing it has been on artistic director Brian Allen’s bucket list for decades.

The setting is a modest suburban home near London; the resident family is approached by Scotland Yard with a request to keep watch on the house that belongs to their neighbors and best friends, an American couple who have been living there for five years.

I won’t give away the crucial elements of the storyline, but I can assure readers that this play packs a powerful punch. Of the cast of eight, the top performances are given by a pair who define the highly charged electric polarity that drives the plot: Denise Poirier as the England housewife and Tony Reilly as the British detective.

A number of themes are explored, including testing the limits of friendship and the confusion that results when ordinary people are unwittingly swept into dark matters. I rate this as one of 2020’s must-see dramas.

Good Theater presents “Pack of Lies” at the St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St. (top of Munjoy Hill), through March 8 with 7 p.m. performances Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Call 835-0895.

Johnny A.

When we think of the phrase “guitar god” we usually refer to the great lead guitarists with the famous rock bands, such as Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and Joe Walsh of the Eagles. In those cases, the guitar virtuosity is employed as one of the myriad elements that make a song.

But how about pushing the electric guitar up front and center and dispensing with most of the other rock band accoutrements? That’s the big idea that makes guitar god Johnny A. so successful. With only a small rhythm section (bass and drums) Johnny A. wows audiences with sheer, unadulterated virtuosity.

Although he’s been on a number of world tours, Johnny A. lives in greater Boston and gets to Maine at least once per year. I very much enjoyed a Portland performance a few years ago.

Catch Johnny A. at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, at One Longfellow Square, corner of Congress and State streets in Portland. Call 761-1757.

Malpaso Dance Company

Aficionados of cutting edge modern choreography will flock to Westbrook next Wednesday for one of Portland Ovations’ most intriguing offerings in its “Raise the Barr” series of terpsichorean spectaculars.

Malpaso Dance Company, formed in Cuba in 2012, is on a North American tour, and Ovations has booked the troupe for southern Maine on Feb. 26.

The company tours with 11 dancers and is led by its original three founders, including resident choreographer and artistic director Osnel Delgado. The company also collaborates with other noted choreographers, such as Ron K. Brown, who is known for Afro-themed movement.

Malpaso has impressed critics in cities visited earlier. Writing for the Miami New Times, reviewer Helena Alonso Paisley commented: “Surely, Malpaso, with its fluid, sexy athleticism, can put the lie to the old saw that contemporary dance is too cerebral to be fun to watch.”

Portland Ovations presents Malpaso Dance Company at 7:30 p.m Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center at Westbrook Middle School, 471 Stroudwater St., Westbrook. Call PortTIX at 842-0800.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: