By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
H.P. Lovecraft's the Rats in the Walls
Uren offers up this dramatic reading of a story by old Mister Scary Pants himself. The last survivor of a cursed aristocratic line returns to Europe to take possession of his massive family home. Somewhat inevitably, it contains a disturbing and deeply unnatural secret. Uren is a fine storyteller, and Lovecraft's particular brand of ungodly, truly chilling horror is well represented here. By the time it's over, a horde of devouring rats are pretty much the least of our narrator's worries. Fri, Sat, and Sun 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Mill City Museum.
How to Cheat
The New Theatre Group
In Alan Berks's sharp new drama, a married journalist (Emily Gunyou) and a single stem-cell researcher with a lascivious eye (Randy Reyes) steal off for some private time in an upstairs room while the party continues below. The dialogue rings nicely, with even the science-and-life metaphors going down well. And Gunyou and Reyes give complicated and magnetic performances, particularly when their dalliance is represented by a heated game of cards. Note to self: When preparing for extramarital dalliances, always brush up on gin rummy. Thu 5:30 p.m., Sat 7:00 p.m. U of M Rarig Center Arena.
This show lends itself less to criticism than to a feeling that one has just experienced an affectionate artistic mugging. Kats D Fukasawa and Masanari Kawahara blend surreal silliness with flashes of the sublime in pieces that mine traditions of Japanese culture. We have, in no particular order, a guy in a Day-Glo blue Godzilla suit, a long and gorgeous movement piece about violence and love featuring a very phallic bloody sword, and a maniacal dance to Japanese pop music with a bit of lip-synching thrown in. Not sure if any of this would make any more sense to Japanese audiences. Fri 8:30 p.m., Sun 4:00 p.m. Southern Theater.
Kill the Robot
Stages Theatre Company
Director Jon Ferguson collaborates with 11 teenagers to produce this abstract meditation on time travel and rites of passage. Upon graduation, a claque of teens opts to skip into the future, which is naturally an authoritarian dystopia. You'd think they'd feel right at home, having just been in high school and all, but instead they fight. It's thin broth at times but the ensemble serves it with a certain sweetness—not least during the musical number when the class nebbish confesses his love for an android. Sat 2:30 p.m., Sun 7:00 p.m. U of M Rarig Center Thrust.
Love in a Time of Rinderpest
Impossible Theater Group
Writer/director Josef Evans cooks up a scenario in which two local high schools compete for thespian acclaim and eventually see their fate altered by professional ghostbusting. That's right—it's just this side of incoherent, and it also happens to be extraordinarily funny. The nine-person cast is an all-star team of local indie theater, and the show looks to be as much fun to perform as it is to watch (that is, a lot). You'll probably walk out unable to remember the plot, but you'll surely emerge in a better mood than when you entered. Thu 10:00 p.m., Sat 8:30 p.m. Minneapolis Theater Garage.
Monsters in America: Puppets of Mass Distraction
The Chameleon Theatre Circle
Puppetry and political satire go hand in hand—or, more appropriately, "hand in ass"—as demonstrated in this allegorical depiction of the American government's spin machine and its knack for demonization. Aptly, the scapegoats in this case are already demons. The monsters of the world, a cuddly and marginalized population, take the rap when a global mining corporation accidentally frees a huge, wrathful demon named Crush Fist from its mountain lair. The play has its hilarious moments, but the discourse is about as timely as a bed-in, a fact that, depending on your taste for far-lefty rhetoric and/or singing muppets, makes Monsters in America either a joy or a bore. Fri 8:30 p.m., Sat 10:00 p.m., Sun 4:00 p.m., U of M Rarig Center Proscenium.
Past the Size of Dreaming
Starting Gate Productions
The whole thing is a dream—hey, it's right there in the title! Two couples are locked in this dream: One pair is married and seems modestly well acquainted with reality; the other pair, dressed in devilish office attire, has supernatural tendencies. The married two fight on cell phones even though they're next to each other in bed. (Hey, maybe it's a big bed.) The other couple disrupts this spat, and from there on the four bandy about politics, the war on terror, '70s pop tunes, and the dangers of being wishy-washy. Fri 10:00 p.m., Sun 1:00 p.m. U of M Rarig Center Proscenium.
They Might Be Phyro-Giants Productions
What happens when four friends, two girls and two guys, randomly meet for dinner at a restaurant and start slamming bottles of wine? They loosen up and talk about death, religion, fidelity, and sexual kinks, of course. This play explores the things that happen in the middle of life—whether it's finding out the person for you isn't the one you married, changing your mind about kids, or contemplating life after death. The drinks and discussion that you have after this show might not be as climactic as what you see on stage, but you probably should be thankful for that. Wed 8:30 p.m., Thu 7:00 p.m., Sun 2:30 p.m. Acadia Café.