Opening This Week

No Exit

Imago revives its popular and award-winning 1998 production of Jean-Paul Sartre's play about Hell and other people. IMAGO THEATER, 17 SE Eighth Ave, 231-9581, Thurs-Sun 7 pm, Thurs 8 pm, Fri-Sat 2 pm, Sun, ends Oct 15, $14-16

The Grass Harp
Musical adaptation of Truman Capote's autobiographical tale of two spinster sisters who serve as mentors to a youth. LAKEWOOD THEATRE COMPANY AT LAKEWOOD THEATER FOR THE ARTS, 368 S State St, 635-3901, Thur-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through Oct 15, $20

Current Run

Late Nite Catechism
A Chicago nun conducts an adult education class in the catechism, where she calls on "students" (the audience) to answer questions and sometimes "reprimands" them in a semi-scary nunly fashion. It's a cute, mildly entertaining play that is also extremely Cathocentric: it assumes the universality of Catholic concerns. Nonbelievers of all kinds will probably find this show irksome because at the play's center is a mushy acceptance of the religion's bizarre brain teaser form of theology. It's also rather pricey for what you get--a one person show set in a standard classroom. CLOUD 9 PRODUCTIONS AT THE MAIN STREET THEATER, 904 SW Main St, 790-2787, Thur-Fri 8 pm, Sat 2 and 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, Through Sept 30, $24.50-$29.50

Suburban Motel Part 1
Clearly, the audience favorite of this double-barreled story is Philie, the slovenly drunk and bumbling motel maintenance man. He spends most of his time on stage depreciating his own self-worth and getting needlessly worked up over concepts of justice (not to mention a fair number of slapstick falling-down-and-passing-out scenes). It is sharp, high-paced writing and James Hartley personifies his lines with a mix of dramatic weight and sitcom hee-haw. Stark Raving Theatre spent six months securing the rights to Suburban Motel from its Toronto playwright, George Walker. The product is well worth the patience. The lines are funny and the themes of loneliness and frustration are grabbing. The play is two separate story lines which share a sense of dark and frenetic humor, the same low-rent motel room setting and, yes, Philie. The first story watches as a morally bankrupt couple accidentally kills their social worker while trying to reclaim their baby; the second act concerns a hapless father and his confused son who bungle their assignment to torch their mobster boss' competition. Both are wild and funny goose chases. (Phil Busse) STARK RAVING THEATER, AT THEATER! THEATRE!, 3430 SE Belmont St, 232-7072, Thurs-Sun 7:30, Thurs through Sat 4 pm, Sun ends Sept 30, $13.50-$17

The Beauty Queen of Leenane
This latest production from the Artists Repertory Theatre is a schizophrenic offering that succeeds wildly on certain levels, yet is yawn-inducing on others. The story involves an incessantly bickering mother/daughter duo who lives in poverty in Leenane, a tiny town in Ireland. Maureen (Lorraine Bahr) is the 40-year-old daughter who bypassed a normal life to care for her manipulative mum (Teresa Thuman). Happily for the audience, things are not exactly as they seem in this almost-standard tale of domestic tribulation, and things go from weird to worse. The cast is largely excellent in their roles, and hit the comic elements (which are many) with perfection. However, while the script (penned by Martin McDonagh) sweats to be clever, it's really just a mish-mash rehash of plays written 20 years ago by the likes of Sam Shepard and Marsha Norman. Though McDonagh creates interesting characters, and has a way of interweaving humor and violence, the plot itself is so predictable, I figured out where it was going by 45 minutes into Act One (and believe me, I'm not so smart about these things.) (Wm. Steven Humphrey) ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATER, 1516 SW Alder St, 241-1278, Sun 7 pm, Tues-Thurs 7 pm, ends Sun, Oct 15, $13.50, 241-1ART

Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight
A Jewish guy and his girlfriend, a dominatrix, a gun-toting hood, and possibly a gay couple all meet to hash out their romantic problems in this bedroom farce by Oregon playwright Peter Ackerman. See review this issue. TRIANGLE PRODUCTIONS! AT THEATER! THEATRE!, 3430 SE Belmont St, 239-5919, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 5 pm, through Sept 30, $15-17