Opening This Week

Recent Tragic Events
We have a pretty good feeling about this one; it's a collaboration between Coho and Third Rail Repertory, a newish theater collective with some of Portland's best actors onboard, including Tim True, Michael O'Connell, and Valerie Stevens, all of whom appear in this post-9/11 play by Craig Wright. Coho Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 232-7072, Opens Fri, runs Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Mar 12, $21

Closing This Week

We're interested in First Light Productions, a new company put together by talented actors Peter Handy and Julie Brundage. Their first show, Misfits, is an evening of funny one-acts by NYC playwright Erica Silberman. AT Studios, 8500 SE 17th, 227-3337, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through Feb 6, $15

On the Verge
In Eric Overmyer's On the Verge, three intrepid female explorers from the year 1888 set out to traverse Terra Incognita, a vast jungle deftly sketched in sound and lighting on the stark stage. As they trek through the wilderness, the women find themselves in a psychic time/space maelstrom of futuristic impressions, including advertising jingles, campaign slogans and teenybopper slang. The Insight Out company's accomplished cast more than competently handles this material,but Overmeyer's script is by turns completely incomprehensible and painfully transparent, overreaching and emotionally hollow. ALISON HALLETT West End Theater, 1220 SW Taylor, 234-0973, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, through Feb 5, $15

Things of Dry Hours
Naomi Wallace's 1995 play follows a black father-and-daughter duo in 1932 Alabama, who must deal with a troubled white man demanding shelter from the law. Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 274-6588, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Thurs 12 pm, Sun 2 pm, Sun 7 pm, through Feb 5, $15-55

Current Runs

The focus of director Bill Dobson's late-1700s Amadeus Vienna action rests on a vast, faux marble floor. It's an intriguingly large amount of space, but as the famous Italian composer Antonio Salieri (Kevin Connell) plots against his brilliant young rival Mozart (Leif Norby), Dobson does little to utilize it. His actors stand in stiff triangle formations, their hands clasped regally behind their backs. This may be factually accurate, but it doesn't make for very exciting viewing, especially since Peter Shaffer's text is loaded with that time-tested killer of dramatic momentum, The Audience Aside. JWS Lakewood Theatre Company, 368 S State St, 635-3901, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through Feb 20, $22-24

Death of a Salesman
Arthur Miller's masterpiece. Artists Repertory Theatre, 1516 SW Alder St, 241-1278, Tues-Thurs, Sun 7 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Feb 27, $15-35

Measure for Measure
2Boards Productions, a new company in Portland, takes on one of the Bard's trickiest plays. The Know, 2026 NE Alberta, 232-5375, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Feb 20, $10

The Killing Game
The first scene alone of Ionesco's fascinating play, in which the mysterious epidemic strikes, claims seven lives. Throughout the ensuing numerous short scenes (montage-style), Ionesco offers not just a high body count, but also timely (even for 1970, the play's publication date) observations on mass hysteria, elitism, fear, and government control. It's a clever play, but a challenging one--any production of it must succinctly depict an entire population under lunatic duress... on a stage. The defunkt company is never wont to back down from anything, but their Killing Game loses its effectiveness after about 20 minutes, right when the play becomes engrossing. It feels like a talented troupe of actors doing an action-packed side project when, in fact, they're really invested in talky Albee plays like A Delicate Balance. WGBack Door Theatre, 4319 SE Hawthorne, 993-9062, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 4 pm, through Feb 26, $8-15

* Mike Daisey's 21 Dog Years: Doing Time @
Blessed with both an amazingly expressive face and impeccable comic timing, Mike Daisey attacks his anecdotes from the Land of Cubicles with a ferocity that draws huge laughs out of the smallest jokes, and sidesplitting banshee howls out of the big jokes. JWS Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 274-6588, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Tues-Wed, Sun 7 pm, Thurs 12 pm, Sat-Sun 2 pm, through Feb 6, $15-55


* Portland Theatre Gives
A rather fun-sounding tsunami benefit/variety show with a humor theme (as humorous as can be expected given the context for this event). Features Marguerite Scott's solo show Collage, sketch comedy from the Tragedies, and improv from the Brody Theater and the very funny duo of Brad Fortier and Nate Halloran. Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd., 493-1128, Wed 7 pm, $10-25 donation

* The Wake
An intriguingly morbid-sounding improv affair at which the Brody company portrays the friends and family of a recently deceased corpse, enacting scenes and memories from the dead person's life. Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Mar 5, $10

Craptacular! Craptacular!
A new show by The Tragedies, a newish sketch comedy troupe with a stunningly good website replete with compact discs and an enormous array of Tragedies clothing merchandise for your purchasing pleasure. Hopefully in the midst of this marketing bltiz they found time to put together some entertaining theater as well. Back Door, 4319 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 984-4549, Fri-Sat 10:30 pm, through Feb 5, $8


* Penta
The fifth and final installment of Cydney Wilkes' yearlong outdoor dance cycle representing the five elements. This time the theme's WATER, and as with the other installments, Wilkes and performing partner Mike Barber will address our liquidy life force with a mixture of aerial and ground choreography. South Waterfront Park, 2100 SW River Parkway,, Thurs-Sun 6 pm, free