Opening This Week

The Centering
The press release says it best: "This gripping one-man show explores the fragile psyche of Davey, a political prisoner whose damaged past and brutal present blur together as he escapes to the only refuge available: the circus clown within his mind." Back Door Theater, 4319 SE Hawthorne, 784-7316, Fri-Sat 11 pm, Sun 7 pm, $7-10

The Odd Couple (Female Version)
Neil Simon's The Odd Couple—only with chicks, dig it? Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 306-0870, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 4 pm, $5-15

One Week Only

The Fifth Annual Anonymous Theatre: The Learned Ladies
Theatre Vertigo teams with the Anonymous Theatre Company to present a special one-night only performance of Moliere's The Learned Ladies. What makes it so special, you ask? Well, I'll tell you: The identities of the performers are kept so secret that not even the cast knows who else is performing. Northwest Neighborhood Cultural Center, 1819 NW Everett, 8 pm, $20

Closing This Week

Stephen Sondheim's strange and compelling Assassins introduces the audience to nine historical characters, all of whom at some point attempted to kill a president. Through a disjointed series of songs and vignettes, the piece explores their individual motivations, and how the actions of these "historical footnotes" fit into the bigger picture of American identity. At times, watching the show felt like being assaulted: by the too-loud music, by frequent gunshots, by the relentless, often irritating self-justifications of the characters. But this is the point; this desperate, noisy grasping at success and spectacle. These people are the American dream turned inside out—if it leaves you feeling shaken, or a little bit drained, so much the better. AH Artists Repertory Theatre, 1516 SW Alder, 241-1278, Tues-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 & 7 pm, $15-40

Current Runs

The Lonesome West
Martin McDonagh's The Lonesome West occurs in a squalid shack inhabited by two feuding brothers in a small, troubled Irish town. Valene (John Steinkamp) is neurotic, greedy, selfish, and anal-retentive. Coleman (Tim True) is sloppy, broke, conniving, and crass. The mixture is volatile. Their father's dead by shotgun at play's outset, but both are too busy squabbling over booze, insurance money, potato chips, and everything else to be much affected by it. The local priest, Father Welsh (Michael O'Connell), hangs out with these bozos. He's a good man, a sad, alcoholic man, who sees the carnage around him as the result of his downfalls as a religious leader. When he's suddenly gone, the brothers experience a minor existential crisis. The professional super-company Third Rail Repertory presents this madness, with resident director Slayden Scott guiding the wonderful production with an even hand; he has a great script and knows not to interfere with it. JWS Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, 5340 N Interstate, 235-1101, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, $15-20

The Miracle Theatre concludes its season as Olga Sanchez directs Edwin Sanchez's play about a Bronx boy who turns to the church to escape his troubled family. The Miracle Theatre, 525 SE Stark, 236-7253, Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, $16-20

The NW Classical Theatre presents this little play you might have heard of. It's directed by Fred Ward, who, interestingly enough, once directed Hollywood films, including When A Stranger Calls. Shoe Box Theater, 2110 SE 10th, 274-4771, Thurs-Sat 7 pm, Sun 2 pm, $12-18

Julie Akers directs Moira Buffini's play, which is described in the press release thusly: "Amid the chaos of Viking raids and the end of the millennium panic, Silence, the young Lord of Cumbria, is forced to marry a feisty French princess at the behest of the King." Back Door Theater, 4319 SE Hawthorne, 784-7316, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, $15-18

The Who's Tommy
Radiant Theatre presents the Who's ridiculous musical about disability, celebrity, and pinball. Liberty Hall, 311 N Ivy, 502-8261, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, $20, sliding scale

Big Love
Charles Mee's glamorously weird modern update of Aeschylus' The Suppliant Women has become a popular production choice for fringe and college theaters all over the country—as evidenced by this new production at Portland State. Lincoln Hall, PSU, SW Broadway & Market, 725-3307, 7:30 pm May 26-27 & May 31-June 3, 2 pm May 28, $3.50-9

Theater District
The writer of My So-Called Life and thirtysomething penned ART's new main stage show, directed by Jon Kretzu, about a young man and his gay dad. Artists Repertory Theatre, 1516 SW Alder, 241-1278, Thurs 7 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, 7 pm, $15-40


An Unlikely Story
Epic improvised adventure tales from the Brody, replete with adventure, romance, danger, music, and a "chorus" of abstract movement. Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th, 224-0688, Sat 8 pm, $7-10