Opening This Week

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

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

Closing This Week

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

Forbidden Broadway
A bunch of Broadway tunes sung Broadway-style. World Trade Center Auditorium, 121 SW Salmon, 239-5919, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through April 6, $20-25

* 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. Theatre Vertigo at the Russell Street Theater, 116 N Russell, 306-0870, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 4 pm, through April 6, $10-14

The Consul
Based on the true story of a Polish immigrant woman who was denied access to Ellis Island, and, in her despair, hung herself. Portland Opera Company, 1515 SW Morrison , 241-1802, Sat 7:30 pm, $26 and up

Current Runs

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

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
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

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. Worth seeing anyway, however, 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

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