Opening This Week

Brilliant Traces
Ever wondered what would happen if you were a commitment-phobic bride, and got trapped in a snowbound Alaskan cabin with a reclusive oil rig chief? e3 Productions at the Electric Company, 2512 SE Gladstone, Suite 200, 232-5955, Opens Fri, runs Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Dec 6, $15

Attendance Is Mandatory
A one-man show starring local improv guy Reuben Nisenfeld, who will use the format of a government propaganda film to, we assume, mock the idea of government propaganda. Toad City Productions, at the Back Door, 4321 SE Hawthorne, 736-1027, Thurs 8 pm, through Dec 18, $7-9

* El Dia de Los Muertos
Tears of Joy continues its collaborative efforts with the Miracle in lieu of the Day of the Dead Festival. Tonight they present their popular shadow puppetry project, Onion Skin Soup, as well as a new work, Blame it on the Beetle, which explains why people die. This show is puppetry for adults. Tears of Joy/Miracle Theatre at the Winningstad, 1111 SW Broadway, 248-0557, Sat 8 pm, through Nov 22, $14

Nun Sequitur
Nun comedy is as tired as Grandpa's penis wrinkles (priest humor is where it's at these days), and yet this late-night habit-fest has some stellar actresses involved: Gail Hebert and Kelly Hatfield. the Back Door Theater, 4319 SE Hawthorne , 239-5174, Fri-Sat 10:45 pm, through Dec 13, $10

The suddenly very active Toad City presents an exploration of "the sensual celebration and spiritually provocative work of Rumi." Toad City Productions, at the Back Door, 4321 SE Hawthorne, 736-1027, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Dec 20, $10-12

* The Bard
The Brody presents a late-night show, The Bard, which will feature improvised songs, dances, and entire musical production numbers. Fun! Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Sat 10:30 pm, through Dec 13, $9

* The Exception and the Rule
Three cool directors interpret this classic Bertolt Brecht text, including Liminal's Bryan Markovitz, Lightbox's own Ian Greenfield, and local filmmaker Brett Vail. Lightbox Studio, at the Liminal Space, 403 NW 5th, 231-0839, Nov 15-16, 20-23, @ 8 pm, $7

* The Winter's Tale
One of Shakespeare's stranger romantic comedies is worth checking out just to see how director Stephen Weeks interprets the infamous stage direction, "Exit, pursued by a bear." Fir Acres Theatre, Lewis & Clark College, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Road, 768-7495, Nov 14-15, 20-22 @ 7:30 pm, $8

One Week Only

The Marriage of Bette and Boo
A madcap romp through the world of marriage from the nice n' twisted Christopher Durang. The play includes four stillborns and a husband who refers to his wife as "the dumbest woman in the world." Directed by ART veteran Michael Griggs. PSU Theater Dept, at Lincoln Hall, Portland State University, 1620 SW Park Ave, 725-3307, Thurs-Sun 7:30 pm, Sun 2 pm, $9

Current Runs

* A Moon for the Misbegotten
Tim True plays James Tyrone with affected restraint. His words are tentative; he wants to believe what he's saying, but he's not sure if he can. Luisa Sermol, as Josie, counters with a fierce focus; a scrutinizing of every word True says in desperate search of a sentiment from him she can lean on. It's a deeply layered portrayal of a tough, rural woman who's made a life out of hiding her vulnerabilities. JWS Coho Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 220-2646, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Nov 29, $18-$20

Appalachian Ebeneezer
Dickens meets coal-mining in this Depression-era re-staging of the holiday classic A Christmas Carol. Fans of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack will "dig" it. Don't "mined" if we do. Heh. Artists Repertory Theatre, 1516 SW Alder St, 241-1278, Tues-Thurs, Sun 7 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Dec 23 , $15-30

* Bat Boy
Portland Center Stage's production bulges with suitably campy performances. More than half the cast gets to play multiple roles, switching back and forth between different variations of the mountainside hillbillies Bat Boy must face. Singing ability is fairly inconsistent, but it's easy to overlook because everyone's comic timing is topnotch. Don't expect the catchiest showtunes you've ever heard, but expect a damn fun time all the same. JWS Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 274-6588, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun, Tues-Wed 7 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Nov 23, $16-51