Opening This Week

Chainsaw Spaceman
A bold fusion of character-driven short stories that probe such themes as manipulation, gossip, electronic dependency, and Led Zeppelin. Hoskins & Breen, at CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh, 242-0202, Fri-Sat 10:30 pm, through April 20, $10

Dirty Blonde
A love story between two misfits obsessed with Mae West. Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 274-6588, Opens Fri, runs Tues-Wed, Sun 7 pm, Thurs 12 pm, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sat-Sun 2 pm, through April 14, $12-44

Frogz unfolds one more time, 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

One Week Only

Perpetuating Response
Performance art, music, and mixed-media from artists like Pecos B and Joshua Camozzi Milligan. 2 Gyrlz Performative Arts, at Polyp and Fury, 3974 N. Mississippi #1, Fri 8 pm, FREE

The Qualities of Life
Life and all its qualities explored through an evening of scenes and music. Magdelyn Theatre Company, 1631 NW Thurman, 4th Floor, 708-8554, Fri-Sat 8 pm, $10

Closing This Week

* For Reasons That Remain Unclear
The first two-thirds of Mart Crowley's play about a once-Catholic man's reunion with the priest who molested him are a seminar on careful character development and natural, yet interesting dialogue. Rarely do scripts have the confidence, and yes, originality, to unfold so quietly and subtly. Crowley's ending--an explosion of preposterous, almost soap-operatic coincidences, and melodramatic screaming/grappling matches--is much less interesting, but what's the old saying? That's right: "It's not the destination that matters, but the journey to it." Triangle Productions, at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 239-5919, Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 5 pm, through March 30, $15-19

* Shakespeare's R & J
Shakespeare lives for four Catholic schoolboys whose desires crescendo in unison with their interpretation the bard's classic. The strong male cast energetically questions sexuality, its repression and unfulfilled desires, issues relevant to both Catholicism and Romeo and Juliet. (Jennifer Long) Triangle Productions, at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 239-5919, Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through March 30, $15-19

That's Infotainment
Improv that is one-half documentary and one-half fictional scenes inspired by the documentary. Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Fri-Sat 8 pm, $10

* The Portland Subway
I'm recommending this play, but with reservation. At an unusually slow run, I had the rare opportunity of seeing it by myself, which is obviously NOT the ideal way to view a show that heavily involves audience participation...that is, with only one audience participant. For this reason, The Portland Subway was a surreal and trippy experience for me. It will also be a surreal and trippy experience for you, but for different reasons. You will not feel alienated and alone because you will be with other people. You will be able to absorb the nice, creepy ambiance that Circle of Fire creates and you will be edified by their philosophical diatribe. I believe you will experience all this with very little of the self-conscious paranoia that I felt. Or then again, maybe you won't... Circle of Fire Productions, at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 287-0198, Fri-Sat 10:25 pm and 11:15 pm, through March 30, $10

Viva Baile! Danza Tropical
The Miracle's dance group presents South American dance set in the heart of a dense rainforest. The Miracle Theater, 525 SE Stark Street, 236-7253, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through March 30, $15

Current Runs

Finding the Sun
An ambitious attempt, but then again, attempting Edward Albee is always ambitious. This late-night production could benefit from more rehearsal time. (Jennifer Long) Call in Sick Productions, at the Russell Street Theater, 116 NE Russell St, 335-3297, Fri-Sat, 10:30 pm, through April 6, $8-10

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

* Rashomon
A man lies dead, a woman charges rape, and a notorious bandit gets convicted. This simple sequence of events gets twisted into a web of shaky half-truths, in Akutagawa's classic tale set in 12th century Japan. Point of view is everything as each of the three major characters reveal their version of what really happened. Was it really murder? Was it really rape? Was it something even more fucked up? Theatre Vertigo handles this complicated material with amazing skill. The transitions in point of view and the unstable story details (that is, the details that mysteriously change depending on who is telling them) occur with almost supernatural fluidity. It takes hard work to make theater look this easy. And I saw it opening weekend, which means it's only going toget better. Theatre Vertigo at the Russell Street Theater, 116 N Russell, 306-0870, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 4 pm, through April 6, $10-14

Some Explicit Polaroids
A passionate activist struggles against a backdrop of conservative government and evolving AIDS crisis. Sowelu Theater at the Back Door, 4319 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 230-2090, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 4 pm, through April 20, $7-15

Triple Espresso, A Highly Caffeinated Comedy
Magic and theater mix in this fictitious reunion of the once-promising comedy team, "Maxwell, Butternut, and Bean." Triple Espresso, at the Portland Art Museum, Portland Art Museum, 2nd Floor, 1219 SW Park, Wed-Thurs, Sun 7:30 pm, Fri 7 pm, Sat 5, 8 pm, Sun 3 pm, through April 21, $39-45, includes dessert and coffee