"Don't Ever Say (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Onstage Again!"

Audiences storm the stage. Actors suffer gastrointestinal distress. Backstage confessions of theater gone terribly, terribly wrong.

 

Beat: A Showcase of Modern Dance

Ray Terrill

Hugh D'Andrade

Truth be told, it's difficult to be a cool cat when the heat index is over 100 degrees, but Terrill and his dancers are hip to summoning Jack Kerouac's spirit through their moves. All of the elements are present here--the bongos, the black threads, the dysphoric jazz. What's missing is that tight beat-generation attitude, the Ginsbergian world-weariness, the rebellious atmosphere of smoky poetry readings. Judging from Terrill's other decidedly optimistic and lyrical modern dances on the program, playing jaded might not be in his repertoire. Wed 7:00 p.m., Fri 2:30 p.m., Sat 8:30 p.m. Wesley United Methodist Church. (Palmer)

 

The Best Show in Town

Frontier Theatre

Certainly the riskiest title in town, particularly when the Fringe Festival offers 120-plus shows, but the Frontier Theatre deserves credit for its cojones. This play, a backstage drama set in a vaudeville theater during one particularly unhappy performance in the early Twenties, is creaky with melodramatic plot conventions--the star of the show is thinking of leaving, the manager must fire his failed-magician brother-in-law, and the costume girl desperately wants to get onstage and sing. But much of the staging of this production is pleasantly elegant, including a long, fascinating opening tableau of the chaos that reigns backstage before a performance, done in near-total silence. Wed 8:30 p.m., Fri 1:00 p.m., Sat 8:30 p.m. Whitney Mainstage. (Sparber)

 

Bobby Gould in Hell

Pigs Eye Theater

If David Mamet had his own personal Hades, one would surmise that it would include nothing but missionary-position sex, voices without New York accents, and an anti-cursing crusade led by the newly soap-washed mouth of Prince. In this Pigs Eye Theater production, the underworld is a place where Mamet's alter ego, Bobby Gould, goes on trial for his sins. (His ex-girlfriend--a stubborn whiner--and the devil--a philosophical fisherman--act as judges.) But amid heated empirical discussions about morality, staged within the fiery bowels of eternal damnation, the acting in this particular production still feels lukewarm. Fri 7:00 p.m., Sat 1:00 p.m., Sun 4:00 p.m. Acadia Cabaret Theater. (Melissa Maerz)

 

The Boundary

Rachael Shapiro

For anyone who hears about a hot date and imagines microwaved fruit in turn, this one is for you. Tom Stoppard and Clive Exton's animated meditation on slippery semantics takes the form of a brain-twisting dialogue between two lexicologists who cannot seem to use their vocabulary to communicate. Todd O'Dowd gives a convincingly exasperated performance as Johnson, a nervous linguist who cannot keep his tongue from twisting into double entendre. If you feel intimidated by those Boundary witticisms that can't be immediately understood, remember: It's only a one-act play on words. Wed 7:00 p.m., Fri 4:00 p.m., Sat 1:00 p.m., Sun 7:00 p.m. Hennepin Center for the Arts, Studio 6A. (Maerz)

 

Drive

Jennifer J. Holt's Vroom-Vroom Group

Jennifer J. Holt belts out her "I'm Still Here" take on life as a driver and a connoisseur of car racing. But in comedy, as in racing, timing is everything, and the spark plugs in Drive never quite fire in sync. Holt and her pit crew (Kiseung Rhee and David Wick) explore the speed-demon psyche in all of us without capturing the visceral charge of hurtling irresponsibly through space. With the exception of a few sly vignettes like Holt's pas de deux with a tenacious remote-controlled toy car, Drive needs some revving-up and a tuneup. Wed 10:00 p.m., Fri 2:30 p.m., Sat, 8:30 p.m. Red Eye. (Shapiro)

 

Edward Gorey's Helpless Doorknobs

Dramatis Personae

Edward Gorey was well known for his gothic Edwardian illustrations, but he also dabbled in playwriting. And, as anyone familiar with Gorey's aesthetic might expect, these efforts are often baffling. Helpless Doorknobs, for example, was a one-page dramatic treatment based on a series of cards meant to be read in any order. John Carl Heimbuch has fleshed out the treatment, turning it into a full script by superimposing elements from classical melodrama atop the story. And his adaptation works quite well. True to Gorey's poetics, the play follows the mysterious goings-on surrounding a clock, with kohl-eyed, white-skinned beauties collapsing onto chaise longues and black-cloaked strangers emerging from the wings to chloroform their enemies. The minimal set, based on Gorey's illustrations, is superb, and the performances are suitably exaggerated, as is the florid, antiquated language spoken by the characters. Wed 7:00 p.m., Fri 5:30 p.m., Sun 4:00 p.m. Minneapolis Theatre Garage. (Sparber)

 

Eight Minnesotans and a Bulgarian

Accord! Folk Orchestra with Ethnic Dance Theatre

Dahlings! You simply must go see Olenka, Ukraine's answer to all the Gabor sisters rolled up in one borscht-fed package! She's the mistress of ceremonies during this high-spirited "goulash to glamour" salute to the dance and music of Albania, Macedonia, and Romania (with a little gypsy and Cajun flavor thrown in, plus some Bulgarian scatting). As always, EDT's performers are on top of their game, and the costumes, clearly authentic, are dazzling. The music outfit Accord! (whose members include the titular Bulgarian) provides able accompaniment, particularly during the demanding (and speedy!) closing number. Wed 8:00 p.m., Fri 4:00 p.m., Sun 4:00 p.m. Music Box Theatre. (Palmer)

 

Glass Onion

David Mann

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