Opening This Week

A Bicycle Country
Three friends build a raft to escape poverty-riddled Cuba. The Miracle Theater, 525 SE Stark Street, 236-7253, Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through May 11, $15

Chocolate Confessions
A lame-sounding assortment of rarely heard showiness and monologues about chocolate. There is, however, actual wine and chocolate included in the price of admission. The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th, 224-8499, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through April 20, $15

Fifty Infants
A concert of new and repertory work from Mary Oslund and her merry crew. Oslund & Company, at Conduit Dance Studio, 918 SW Yamhill, 221-5857, Fri-Sun 8:30 pm, through April 28, $12-13

One Week Only

Cabaret Boris & Natasha
Performance Works presents another entertaining hodgepodge of theater, music, and dance. Performance Works Northwest, 4625 SE 67th Ave, 777-1907, Fri-Sat 8 pm, $12

Sean Curran Company
Choreography set to music, ranging from Irish to chamber. White Bird, at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave, 725-3307, Thur-Sat 8 pm, $12-24

Closing This Week

Ah, Wilderness!
Eugene O'Neill's comedy about a small Connecticut town, circa 1906. Lakewood Theatre Company, 368 S State St, 635-3901, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through April 14, $18-20

Much Ado About Nothing
College mainstage. Shakespeare. Cheap. Reed College, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd, 522-9453, Opens Fri, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, through April 13, $1-5

Current Runs

* Chainsaw Spaceman
John Hoskins and Loren Breen understand that the best comedy is bred out of characters, not situations. The characters that populate their sketch comedy are not playing the crowd for laughs, but are examining themselves and their problems with real concern and sincerity. It is this sincerity that makes characters, like the farmers who are obsessed with their power tools and the cockney good ol' boys obsessed with the "wee baby Jesus," so very, very funny. One doesn't laugh AT these people, in an expression of hate, one laughs WITH these people, in an expression of love. I love the characters Hoskins and Breen have created. I love Hoskins and Breen. Hoskins & Breen, at CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh, 242-0202, Fri-Sat 10:30 pm, through April 20, $10

Dinner With Friends
Two very different couples engage in serious after-dinner conversation. Artists Repertory Theater, 1516 SW Alder St, 241-1278, Tues-Thurs 7 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through April 28, $15-28

Frogz is back again, this time to try out new material before heading for the Big Apple. Imago Theater, 17 SE 8th Ave, 231-9581, Thurs-Sat 7:30 pm, Sat-Sun 1:30 pm, Sun 5 pm, through April 21, $13-23

Mall America
After surviving a random shooting spree outside of the biggest mall in the world, the traumatized Allison (Holly Spencer) tries to get her life back together. This volatile material has been given a treatment by playwright Peter Sagal, that is almost slick in its professionalism. Sagal avoids all pathos with characters that are so witty and articulate, they seem removed from the tragedy that has affected their lives. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is a slightly dry thing. The script and Coho's production of it is very tight and very crisp, but it's also very clinical; it lacks the pure feeling that one would expect to take away from a story that holds so much sadness and relevance. CoHo Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 220-2646, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through April 20, $13-15

* Some Explicit Polaroids
Rarely has a mediocre play been staged so well. Director Barry Hunt's staging of Mark Ravenhill's meditation on AIDS, drug use, and politics is loaded with gorgeous technical effects, including one of the more innovative set designs in recent independent Portland theater memory. A wall of silk screens divides the stage into two parts, a device that works on a practical level--locations change in seconds simply by placing a screen in front of a room--and on a symbolic level--explicit scenes of promiscuity and excess are out in the open while scenes of pure, unaltered intimacy between characters are masked. It's a design so captivating that the play itself, which is really nothing more than some cardboard caricatures representing pseudo-philosophical ideas, takes a backseat. Still worth seeing anyway, if only for the sensual titillation, and for some fine performances by Lorraine Bahr and Sean Skvarka. Sowelu Theater at the Back Door, 4319 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 230-2090, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 4 pm, through April 20, $7-15

The Country Club
From the author of the pretty cool As Bees in Honey Drown comes this story of an emotionally fragile divorcee's journey back to her hometown and the country club of her youth. Portland Actors Conservatory, at the Firehouse Theater, 1436 SW Montgomery St, 274-1717, Opens Fri, Thurs 7 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through April 28 , $15-20

Dirty Blonde
Colin Thompson is pale and pudgy, with a kind of repressed comic timing that makes him the perfect choice to play Charlie, a film historian so enamored with Mae West, he feels compelled to dress like her in the privacy of his own home. He meets the girl of his dreams in Josephine, an aspiring actress who is equally obsessed with the ancient, lusty movie star. The story of their budding relationship is broken up with flashbacks from Mae West's life, which are funny, but not nearly as interesting as the cross dressing stuff happening in the present. Jennifer Taub has fun playing both the quick-witted Josephine and the even quicker-witted West. In conclusion: not bad. Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 274-6588, Tues-Wed, Sun 7 pm, Thurs 12 pm, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sat-Sun 2 pm, through April 14, $12-44