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Marx in Soho
Howard Zinn is a brilliant historian, a revolutionary thinker, and a... playwright? Catch a special reading of his one-man play Marx in Soho, to benefit Living Earth and performed by Nurmi Husa, who looks eerily similar to Karl Marx. Multnomah Friends Meeting House , 4312 SE Stark St., 788-5366, Fri 7:30 pm, $10
Closing This Week

Amber Martin
Evening #2 of the incomparable Amber Martin's solo performance in the cozy confines of the Wild Abandon restaurant. Wild Abandon , 2411 SE Belmont, 232-4458, Thurs 9 pm, through April 28, $13 Break, Then Open Newcomer Jessica Wallenfels presents a theater/dance piece based on the writings of Joseph Campbell, and featuring the influences of Anne Bogart, Commedia D'ell Arte, and Afro-Brazilian martial arts. Tribe Theatre , 403 NW 5th, 227-3976, Fri-Sat 10:30 pm, through April 30, $10

Humble Boy
Humble Boy
is a sharp, metaphysical comedy of manners. Call it a soap opera for the Sunday crossword puzzle set. Set in England, it revolves around Felix, a middle-aged theoretical physicist, and his mother, Flora. When Felix returns home for his father's funeral to find his mother already poised to remarry, the play's central conflict ensues. Charlotte Jones' script provides some brilliantly subtle, catty dialogue. AH Artists Repertory Theatre , 1516 SW Alder St, 241-1278, Thurs, Sun 7 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, $15-35

Picnic on the Battlefield
A "humorous, short, war play by Spanish theater artist, Fernando Arrabal," put on by the usually pretty good Sowelu company. Back Door Theatre , 4319 SE Hawthorne, 230-2090, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, $8-15

The Vespiary
Luke (Shaun Patrick Hennessy) is a lonely kid in rural Texas with scary eyes and a strange ability to heal people's ailments with merely a touch. The local religious fanatics, led by the chilling Reverend Lyle (Gary Norman), think he's the spawn of Satan. Matthew B. Zrebski's new work, The Vespiary, devotes itself to uncovering the dark history Lyle and Luke share, and the people it's affected. Stark Raving's production of this rare addition to the horror play genre relies heavily on time-tested technical tricks to enhance the goosebump-factor--Elias Foley's ambient sound design is oppressive and seamless and the classic blood-curdling scream is used but not overused. The result is an orderly, well-sculpted array of familiar gimmicks as entertaining and pleasing as any old-fashioned, scary matinee movie. JWS Stark Raving Theatre , 2257 NW Raleigh, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, $10-18

Current Runs

Fuente Ovejuna
Lope de Vega's play about a 15th-century Spanish farming town thrown into uproar by an evil ruler. The Miracle Theatre , 525 SE Stark, 236-7253, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through May 14, $14-17

Jesus Christ Superstar
Radiant's first attempt at a large-scale musical, the hippie-riffic Hair, was surprisingly decent, and Jesus Christ Superstar is even more hippie-riffic because Jesus was a total hippie. The Scarlett Ballroom , 700 NE Dekum, 502-8261, April 29-30 & May 6-7, 8 pm, May 1 & 8, 2 pm, May 8, 7 pm, $8-15

Mysteries of the Heart
Having demonstrated the raw power basic puppetry can still wield in this cynical, modern world with their highly innovative Wild Child, the Hand2Mouth company has moved on to an even greater challenge: unmoving wooden figures. For those who fell in love with the expressive wooden boy puppet in Wild Child, these decidedly less expressive carvings will take some getting used to. At first, it seems that the actors are just carrying the figures around with them, like footballs--weird props to hang on to as they race through the show's quirky stories. But eventually, a more compelling relationship between object and human materializes: the stiff figures represent the physical world, and the humans are their spirits. If anything, the figures portray the ultimate Mystery of the Heart: the true nature of our bodies. We are lumps of matter given life and breath by something outside ourselves, something that we will never understand. JWS Brooklyn Bay , 1825 SE Franklin, Bay K, 248-0557, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through May 8, $10-12

Sordid Lives
A comedy about a Texas family, replete with dysfunctional daughters, a two-timing husband, and a "cross-dressing Tammy Wynette wanna-be." Triangle Productions , Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 239-5919, Fri-Sat 8 pm, extended through May 28, $17-19

Comedy/Improv

Paula Poundstone
'Nuf said. Aladdin , 3017 SE Milwaukie, 233-1994, Fri 8 pm, $30

Samuel L. Jackson's Int'l Cuisine
The sketch comedy troupe Renob Control presents a new night of hilarious skits and mayhem. Back Door , 4321 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Fri-Sat 10:30 pm, through $7

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