Opening This Week

Elements
Theresa Mathern represents reprisals of old works, and some new works that reanimate the notion and experience of the elements -- earth, air, water, and fire. Conduit Studio, 918 SW Yamhill, 4th Floor, 221-5857, Fri-Sun 8:30 pm, Sun 2 pm, through May 26, $13

Godspell
PSU's Theater Arts Student Organization presents this infamous musical. PSU, Lincoln Hall, 1620 SW Park Avenue, 725-3307, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, through May 25, $5

Out of Nowhere
Like a tornado or a fit of truth, Brody improv stems out of nowhere. Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Fri-Sat 9 pm, through June 29, $10

The Bad Infinity
Four people confront a bad infinity through visits with a suicidal dog, a dead santa, and fallen Senator Armitage. Defunkt Theatre, at the Back Door Theater, 4319 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 993-9062, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 4 pm, through June 22, $8-15

Closing This Week

A Midsummer Night's Dream
Shakespeare's greatest acid trip. Tygres Heart Shakespeare Company, 1111 SW Broadway, 288-8400, Thurs 7 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sat-Sun 2 pm, through May 19, $11-36

Vitriol and Violets: Tales Form The Algonquin Round Table
The Algonquin Hotel was a gathering place for some of the most fascinating literary personalities in 1920s New York, including Dorothy Parker, Alexander Woollcott, and Harold Ross, amongst others. Cygnet has tried to reconstruct the scenes that might have unfolded there with a play built largely from the characters' own quotes and published works. Such an approach is inevitably funny, thanks to the wit and intellect of the characters covered, but the script here by Shelly Lipkin, Louanne Moldovan, and Sherry Lamoreaux also fails to embellish these figures beyond the reputations that precede them. The result is a series of amusements based on the glee of recognition, an animated museum of newspaper snippets, and boozy repartee. MARJORIE SKINNER Cygnet, at the Russell Street Theatre, 116 NE Russell St, 493-4077, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through May 18, $15

* The View From Here
Heather Pearl is a long, lean graceful beauty. Michael O'Neill is a short, stout jiggly man with pigtails who somehow occupies a unique grace of his own. Together, they have crafted a physical exploration of the different stages of romance, based largely on the teachings propagated by the Dell' Arte schools of theater. Their abstract interpretations of the pitfalls of relationships are fairly lowbrow, but entertaining all the same. O'Neill exploits his flab for all its worth by running around the stage in nothing but a tuutuu for 10 minutes and both players engage in various movement sequences that make up for in spectacle what they lack in originality. Nomadic Theatre Co, at the Russell Street Theatre, 116 NE Russell St, 358-3441, Fri-Sat 10:30 pm, through May 18, $10

Current Runs

* Jerusalem: Nat Turner's Uprising
Director Jonathan Walters is a master of making something out of nothing. The Alberta Ballroom has the feel of a school auditorium, but by way of a deceptively simple multi-leveled set and a few cleverly conceived props, Walters has imbued it with an undeniable professionalism. His Jerusalem, a fusion of dance, puppetry, and physical theater that paints an abstract portrait of the prophetic revolutionary, Nat Turner, is gorgeous to behold. A miracle of fringe resourcefulness, and a must-see if only for the stilt walkers, who provide one of the creepiest stage images I've ever beheld. JUSTIN SANDERS Hand 2 Mouth Theatre, 1829 NE Alberta, 235-5284, May 16-17, 23-26, @ 8 pm, $8

Killer Joe
A good ol' fashioned white trash pot boiler. IFCC, 5340 N Interstate Ave, 241-1ART, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through June 16

Pump Boys and Dinettes
The Pump Boys, who sell gas on Highway 57, sing country western songs for two hours with the Dinettes, who own the diner next door. Triangle Productions, at the World Trade Center Auditorium, 121 SW Salmon, 239-5919, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 1 pm, through May 25, $20-25

The Birthday Party
A good production of The Birthday Party exploits the suspenseful, yet darkly humorous dynamic that exists between the moocher, Stanley Weber, and the two mysterious men, Goldberg and McCann, who come to take him away. Profile has failed to do so. Leif Norby, as Stanley, is excessively obnoxious and abrasive, a quality that makes implausible his character's ultimate descent into madness at the hands of the men. Even worse, unfortunately, is Doug Baldwin's performance as Goldberg. Baldwin phones in a monotonous, slightly whiny performance that fails to pick up on any of the subtle charisma or menace that has made Goldberg one of the most fascinating villians in dramatic history. The Profile Theatre Project at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 242-0080, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through May 26, $12-20

The Carousel
Rodgers and Hammerstein's study of a carousel barker and his pretty millhand maid. What exactly a millhand maid is will hopefully be clarified. Lakewood Theatre Company , 368 S State St, 635-3901, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through June 9, $21-23

Uncle Betty
Improv, comedy style. Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Sun 7:30 pm, through May 26, $5

What the Butler Saw
Farce about a British psychiatrist who runs an asylum and tries to keep up with the demands of his sexually frustrated wife. Triangle Productions, at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 239-5919, Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 5 pm, through May 25, $15-19