THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK -- (Through Dec. 16 at Round House Theatre)

The hideous events of the Holocaust that killed Anne Frank and so many others have been documented and dramatized so graphically that this 1955 play now seems sanitized and cute almost to the point of being offensive. Director Jim Petosa has made no concessions to time, however, and his choice of the actress to play Anne is the first indication of how completely uncomprehending he is of the play's resonances today. Carolyn Pasquantonio is appropriately small, but she looks like Snow White and plays Anne as if she were in "Annie." Her performance is so antic that when the dentist (Irv Ziff) begs her to be quiet and settle down, his lines are especially convincing. It is only with Anne's father, played with affecting sweetness by James Slaughter, that Pasquantonio becomes a real child with yearnings and terrible fears. While she remains coy and lacking in depth in the second half of the play, Jason Kravits is touchingly awkward and lonely as the teenage Peter, who reaches out to Anne. His gentle, painstaking performance shows how even a cliche can be infused with new life. - Megan Rosenfeld

DRINKING IN AMERICA -- (Through Dec. 2 at Studio Theatre's Secondstage)

This sad and penetrating look at 10 miserable products of our quick-fix culture, first performed as a one-man show by its chameleon-like author Eric Bogosian (best known as the creator and star of the equally downbeat "Talk Radio"), is not meant for those seeking an evening of escapist entertainment. But as performed by a gifted trio of actors, it provides the more adventurous theatergoer with a coruscating blast of reality. The connecting link between the play's monologues is the "drinking" of the title. A sloshed ceramic tile salesman pours his heart out to a prostitute late at night in a hotel room. A hopped-up New Jersey kid nurses an early-morning beer as he regales his buddy with every last detail of a nocturnal adventure featuring stolen vans, guns, girls and bloodshed. A sleazy casting agent talks up "Richard Chamberlain in the 'Bhopal Story' " during a long-distance phone conversation frequently interrupted by desperate snorts of cocaine and shots of whisky. This is a profoundly troubling show. - Pamela Sommers