Opening This Week

Apocalypse Mambo
Yes! The purveyors of Portland's best sketch comedy (seriously!), John Breen and Loren Hoskins, are back with a new show on serenity, prophecy, condemnation, and voodoo. Hoskins & Breen, at Coho Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh, 242-0202, Fri-Sat 10:30 pm, through Nov 23, $10

El Diablo Don't Dance
As part of its Dia de los Muertos (the days of the dead) Festival, the Miracle presents this play about a young Spaniard, Don Juan, who is visited by Death while shipwrecked in Veracruz. The Miracle Theater, 525 SE Stark Street, 236-7253, Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Nov 10, $12-$14

Hamlet the Vampire Slayer
Hmm. I guess I'll let the title speak for itself. Something tells me it's not traditional Bard. Six on Shakespeare, at the NW Cultural Center, 1819 NW Everett, 286-2823, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, through Nov 16, $10-$12

True West
Check this one out: an all-Hispanic production of the very un-Hispanic Sam Shepard's fantastic play about brotherly love and hate. Portland Center Stage gets more interesting by the day. 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 Nov 17, $12-47

Closing This Week

Exit the King
Imago's production of Ionesco's blathering play is loaded with technical virtuosity and metaphorical pomposity. As the main character, King Berenger (Jerry Mouawad), moves closer and closer to his imminent death, his castle moves closer to its death, crumbling and falling around him. It's all very stunning, but can't save a script that is really nothing more than an overly long whine-a-thon on dying. Lights flash, pretty music plays--the songs are great--but it's all fluff; a desperate attempt to pump something of consequence into an endless pseudo-philosohical void. JWS Imago Theater, 17 SE 8th Ave, 231-9581, Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Nov 3, $15-$24

Scary Movie
Just in time for Halloween, it's the Brody's improvised tribute to classic horror films. Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Nov 2, $12

Current Runs

The Amazing Brenda Strider
Hack Hollywood screenwriter, Jerry, is badly in need of a script, but his writing partner, Gene, is sick in the hospital. So Jerry goes and harasses Gene. Coho Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 220-2646, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Nov 23, $16-$18

The Shape of Things
Neil LaBute's films, In the Company of Men, and Your Friends and Neighbors, are studies in dysfunctional human interaction. He started as a playwright, though, and Shape is one of his more recent dramatic efforts. Artists Repertory Theatre, at the IFCC, 5340 N Interstate, 241-1278, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Nov 17, $22

The Zoo Story & The American Dream
The action of The American Dream plays like a sitcom, but tinged with playwright Edward Albee's metaphorical mastery. His scathingly dysfunctional nuclear family bumbles about, trying desperately to hide their alienation and despair under a mask of hyper-cheery affluence. The Zoo Story isn't quite as darkly funny, but it's easily as dark. Peter (Kevin Connell) is trying to read in the park on a Sunday afternoon when Jerry (David Berkson), a deranged transient, arbitrarily decides to harrass him. Both plays have simple settings and simple premises, with oceans of meaning and ambiguity under their surfaces. Director Jane Unger does nothing innovative with either play, but she doesn't need to; the combination of great writing and great acting more than carries this evening through to its disturbing conclusion. JWS The Profile Theatre Project at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 242-0080, Thur-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, though Nov 17, $12-$25

A little-known play originally produced for radio, Wings explores the interior monologue of a stroke victim coming to terms with incapacitation. Emily, a wing-walker in her youth, interprets the stroke and her ensuing paralysis as a series of sensations comparable to the disorienting velocity of flight. Her body becomes the expression of her befuddled psyche, demanding a range of movements from the actress akin to modern dance. Projected video adds another layer to the fuzzy world of thought. It's a difficult subject to translate to stage, let alone watch, but Lightbox pulls it off. Just don't take your Grandma. AS Lightbox Studios, at Ohm, 31 NW 1st Ave, 963-9013, Fri, Sun 7 pm, $10