Opening This Week

* Big Love
Charles Mee's exuberant play is based on Aeschylus' The Suppliant Maidens and features saw blades, mass murders, and helicopters. Theatre Vertigo at the Russell Street Theater, 2512 SE Gladstone, 306-0870, Opens Fri, runs Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 4 pm, through Nov 8, $15

* Nickel and Dimed
So far, Artists Repertory has a perfect record with these second-stage works, what with last year's excellent Shape of Things and Touch. Now they present Nickel and Dimed, based on Barbara Ehrenreich's hugely popular book, for which she went under cover to work a series of minimum-wage jobs. Artists Repertory Theatre, at the IFCC, 5340 N Interstate, 241-1278, Opens Fri, runs Tues-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, 7 pm, through Nov 16, $26-$30

One Week Only

Clowns Without Borders
The Nomadic Company continues its sporadic effort to raise money to send clown performances to refugee camps and zones of conflict. Tonight's benefit features jugglers, aerialists, tap dancers, and much more general vaudevillery. Nomadic Theatre Co. at the Echo Theatre, 1515 SE 37th, 358-3441, Sat 7:30 pm, $5-$20

* Whitechapel
The suddenly ubiquitous Steve Patterson shares another new play via RTR's staged reading series. This one's a ghost story about Jack the Ripper. Readers Theatre Repertory, at the Blackfish Gallery, 420 NW 9th Ave, 295-4997, Fri-Sat 8 pm, $8

Closing This Week

* Cloud 9
Following the personal entanglements of a Victorian-era British family, Cloud 9 pairs colonialism with sexual repression, resulting in a messy, violent explosion of impulse and character assassination. defunkt theatre, at the Back Door, 4319 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 993-9062, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 4 pm, through Oct 11, $8-$15

Keith Scales' Medea is basically the Quigly Provost-Landrum show. Provost-Landrum is one of Portland's best actresses, and with her wild hair and deep, husky voice, is the perfect physical embodiment of the passionately vengeful Medea. Classic Greek Theatre of Oregon, at Reed College, 1620 SW Park, 1-800-922-TIXX, Thurs 7 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Oct 12, $10-$15

* Weeping Woman
Amy Wheeler's play focuses on a young woman, her mother, and two variable entities, "the Furies." Awakened at the beginning of the play with only the knowledge that she's done "something horrible," the woman must work with the Furies and her mother to discover what she's done. EH Stark Raving, at the Coho Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 232-7072, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through Oct 11, $18

Current Runs

A Number
Imago's production of this is so well staged and acted, it might actually overwhelm Churchill's tricky text, which is extremely plot-driven, yet also strives for ambiguity--a hodgepodge of Usual Suspects-style mystery and social commentary that doesn't quite add up. JWS Imago Theater, 17 SE 8th Ave, 231-9581, Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through Oct 26, $24

* Another Fine Mess
Drukman's play retains Beckett's reciprocal tone of tragedy and comedy, and Portland Center Stage ably humanizes Drukman's self-described "love letter to the theater." TP Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 274-6588, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Thurs noon, Sat-Sun 2 pm, Sun, Tues-Wed 7 pm, through Nov 8 , $16-$25

* Faust (Faust)
Liminal continues its deconstructive rampage with an interactive haunted house inspired by the story of Dr. Faustus, who sold his soul to the devil to attain more knowledge. Liminal Space, 403 NW 5th, 890-2993, Thurs-Sat 9 pm & 11 pm, through Nov 1, $6-$8

The story of an African American brother/hustler duo living in a seedy boardinghouse. Written by the intensely imaginative Suzan-Lori Parks. Artists Repertory Theatre, 1516 SW Alder St, 241-1278, Times vary, call theater for full schedule and info, through Oct 19, $15-30


Improv with Stacey Hallal
Portland's newest improv group, Kick the Squirrel, teams up with the grizzled veteran, Hallal, of All Jane No Dick fame. Kick the Squirrel, at the Back Door Theater, 4319 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 233-5798, Fri-Sat 10:30 pm, through Oct 11, $5

* Scary Movie
See Busy Week, page 23. brody theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Nov 1, $12