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

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

Rhombus Theatre

In this post-Tarantino culture of ours, the spectacle of two grizzled, foul-mouthed killers debating whether to murder someone has become the most fashionable and accessible mode of discourse about philosophy. Not that that's such a bad thing. Mafia on Prozac presents us with two of the nicer type of hit men, "good soldiers" as they call themselves, in the autumn of their killing years. This gangster play about love and friendship and things left unsaid could use polish, but the one-liners, visual comedy, and quick pacing prevent a well-trodden path from seeming too tedious or familiar. Wed 7:00 p.m., Sat 7:00 p.m., Sun 2:30 p.m. The Woman's Club. (Strandskov)


Hugh D'Andrade

Mixed Blessings

Colleen Kruse

Kruse has a career waitress's poise and ability to read a crowd. Having moved her show to the church parking lot, she regretted the lack of a table to set her story notes on and thereby coaxed some hefty guy in the audience to produce a cooler out of his station wagon. At times, her phrasing can be a touch too perfectly rehearsed, reminding you that she is reading all this off sheets of paper. And the way her real-life, confessional stories transform regret into humor can occasionally seem pat. Still, it's hard to accuse a woman of sentimentality when she's narrating the often-comic ordeal of an unplanned pregnancy at age 20. Wed 8:30 p.m., Fri 4:00 p.m., Sun 7:00 p.m. Wesley United Methodist Church. (Keith Harris)



Illusion Theater

This one-woman show, scripted by Dale Connelly and featuring veteran actor/playwright Beth Gilleland, is part of Illusion's new-play series and, as such, is somewhat more developed than the average rough-and-ready Fringe entry. The premise is awfully clever: Gilleland, playing a Web-cam entrepreneur-cum-naif, struggles to keep voyeurs interested in watching her. Connelly is a Minnesota Public Radio personality (not an oxymoron in his case), and he brings a breezy intelligence to bear on the material. Still, the funniest moment here might be Don Shelby's prerecorded cameo as a mock-solemn hack TV newscaster. Method acting, indeed. Sat 5:30 p.m., Sun 8:30 p.m. Illusion Theater. (Peter Ritter)

The Murderer and the Martian

Fifty Foot Penguin

A sign of the Fringe's growing reputation, these two monologues have been written and performed by local stars Bill Corbett and Jeffrey Hatcher, with the former as "the Martian" and the latter as "the Murderer." Corbett's monologue is of a piece with his play Heckler from this past year, in that both have deluded egomaniacs as their protagonists. But Corbett's Martian is a gentler character than the trash-talking bully from the earlier piece. He acts the role with a sweet, lost quality that stands well against Hatcher's murderer, who is a creature of grand coldness and malevolence. Hatcher is primarily known as a fine playwright, but he is also a pleasure as a performer, holding the stage with a lazy charisma and superbly droll sense of humor. Wed 7:00 p.m., Fri 5:30 p.m., Sat 10:00 p.m. Loring Playhouse. (Sparber)


Pageant--The Musical

Minneapolis Musical Theatre

Here's a drag show that is closest in spirit to those navy talent contests of old, where the most unfeminine men were crammed into grass skirts and coconut-shell bras and pressed onstage for an impromptu hula dance. There was always something a little cruel about this sort of comedy, relying as it did on grotesquely mannered parodies of feminine behavior. Seeing that Pageant is set at a beauty contest, however, such caricature actually seems just right. Here we have a Southern belle whose puppetry seems intended as self-flattery (the puppets crow at her, "Aren't you pretty?"), followed by a hirsute Latina beauty on roller skates playing accordion. Precious, too, are the reactions of the wrathful runners-up. Wed 8:30 p.m., Fri 10:00 p.m., Sat 8:30 p.m., Sun 8:30 p.m. Music Box Theatre. (Sparber)


Say What You Mean

The Burning House Group

Two generic political candidates stand at opposite podiums and spout an absurd volume of verbiage, some cribbed from the historical record itself, all unmoored from any clear referent. The actors (Matt Guidry and Allen Baker) start and stop with thrilling simultaneity, they finish each other's sentences like Run and D.M.C., they obsess over particular words. No less ingeniously choreographed is the wild physical comedy that shows unyielding control even at its most broadly manic. Though both the faux classicism of the 19th Century and the forced eloquence of the 20th ring equally hollow, eventually this language, stripped of any specific meaning, achieves a grandeur of pure euphemism. Thu 10:00 p.m., Fri 4:00 p.m., Sat 8:30 p.m. Loring Playhouse. (Harris)


The Skriker

Chaos/Theory Theatre Project

You can try wandering from the madhouse to the barroom to skid row--the Skriker will follow with her fairy freaks. This woeful tale features two forlorn mortal souls who are eternally plagued by sinister little fiends from beyond the great beyond. As the titular leading fairy, Colleen Mylott gives a commanding performance with her poetic, tongue-twisting monologues and desperation-driven madness. The Skriker never loses its unnerving edge, either, to the extent that we keep glimpsing pieces of the macabre fairy world. With stiltwalkers, masked changelings, vampire spirit dancers, and even a rawheadandbloodybones, this show seems fated to make a return on All Hallows' Eve. Fri 10:00 p.m., Sun 5:30 p.m. Whitney Mainstage. (Swanson)

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