This showcase presents eight wildly varied and whimsical encounters between mortals and the fates, figures, concepts, and constructs who pull their strings. But unlike the many thematic shorts programs that have become all the rage since This American Life, in which multiple playwrights give their otherwise unrelated takes on a topic, Arcana’s pieces cohere, bound by a single creator’s sensibility. Longtime SW contributor John Longenbaugh takes his conceit from 22 special cards in the tarot deck known as the Major Arcana. He explores delicate inner lives and human desires, without mawkishness and with enough twists and reveals to be touching as well as intriguing. Arcana opens each new scene with a sexy, stylized revelation of the next card to the ensemble, accompanied by entrancing music. Longenbaugh & Co. shamelessly heist your heart when you least expect it. You should let them. MARGARET FRIEDMAN

Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Starts: Sept. 10. Continues through Oct. 2, 2010

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