Opening This Week

* A Murder of Crows
The last time defunkt theatre produced a Mac Wellman play, The Bad Infinity, we tore it to shreds because it was so different from everything else we'd ever experienced it made us feel alienated and ignorant. Well, we've learned a lot since then, and would like to take this opportunity to apologize for that dismissive and close-minded review. Wellman is as unconventional as it gets, and once you accept that and move on, there's no end to the wonders his works have to offer. We're going to go into A Murder of Crows ready for anything, and we expect you to do the same. Back Door Theater, 4321 SE Hawthorne , 993-9062, Opens Fri, runs Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 4 pm, through Oct 16, $8-15

Defiance/Deliverance
This festival of staged readings by local women playwrights kicks off with Francesca Sanders' Ride the Rustling Wheat, the story of a black woman raised by white parents. IFCC, 5340 N Interstate Ave, 823-4322, Sun 3 pm, Mon 7:30 pm, $8-10

Sylvia
Arthur Kopit's play about a Manhattan couple trying to adjust to having a stray dog in their apartment is cheese-a-riffic, but well-written enough to also be quite entertaining. The dog part is played by a human, who talks to the audience and prances about, sniffing her ass, scratching her ears with her foot, and performing other canine-like functions. Magdelyn Theatre Company, 403 NW 5th, (971) 544-1736, Opens Fri, runs Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 5 pm, through Oct 9, $10-14

* Johnny Stallings' King Lear
The quirky Stallings once again delivers his oddly fascinating solo rendition of Shakespeare's grandest play. Intersplicing narration with actual dialogue, Stallings takes you through it with no frills attached. He doesn't do cute voices, doesn't wear costumes; it's just a little man with a nice voice, serving up the greatest the English language has to offer. Brooklyn Bay, 1825 SE Franklin, Bay K, 235-5745, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Sept 18, $12

* Mercy Street
Artists Repertory kicks off its mainstage season with one of the newer plays from America's most publicly twisted Mormons. The devout LDS-er Neil Labute is a master of writing about lovers who do really fucked up things to each other. Mercy Street occurs the day after 9/11, and finds an adulterous couple grappling with a discomfortingly refreshing new slate. Artists Repertory Theatre, 1516 SW Alder, 241-1278, Opens Fri, runs through Oct 24, call for schedule and details, $15-35

One Week Only

Politics as Usual
The Readers Theatre Repertory trucks on, launching now into its fourth season of staged readings. Tonight has a fittingly political theme, with Out at Sea and Fox Hunt, two works by Slawomir Mrozek. Blackfish Gallery, 420 NW 9th Ave, 224-2634, Fri-Sat 8 pm, $8

Closing This Week

Miss Saigon
We saw this musical years ago when it toured through Seattle, and the only part we remember is when this big-ass helicopter flies onto the stage. Broadway in Portland, at the Keller Auditorium, SW 3rd and Clay, 790-ARTS, Thurs-Sat 7:30 pm, Sat 2 pm, Sun 1 & 6:30 pm, $23-64

Current Runs

Iron
See review this issue. Anthem Theatre, at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 238-7680, Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Sept 25, $15

The Heiress
Based on Henry James' novel Washington Square, this 19th-Century urban drama follows the daughter of a wealthy New York doctor as she falls in love with a possibly shady young man named Morris Townsend. The doctor is suspicious that Mr. Townsend is only after his baby girl for her money. Lighten up, Doc! What fella DOESN'T want a sugar mama? Triangle Productions, Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 239-5919, Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 5 pm, through Oct 2, $17-23

Dance

* Brenda Bufalino & the Shoehorn VonTap Quarter
See interview this issue. Vine Leaves, 2221 SE Hawthorne, 231-6612, Tues 8 pm, $10