Opening This Week

Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue
Under the steady hand of artistic director Olga Sanchez, the rapidly improving Miracle kicks of their new season with Quiara Alegria Hudes' play about a military family in Philadelphia. The Miracle Theatre, 525 SE Stark, 236-7253, Opens Fri, runs Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Oct. 15, $16-20

One Week Only

Trading Thunder
An "award-winning Asian American drum ensemble," Portland Taiko falls somewhere on the performance spectrum between music, dance, theater, and pulse-pounding thrill ride. Expect HUGE drums, earth-shaking rhythms, and special guest artist Obo Addy. Newmark Theater, 1111 SW Broadway, 248-4335, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, $20-26.25

Closing This Week

The inimitable Johnny Stallings presents a one-man show that isn't King Lear or Hamlet. On the contrary, Silence "explores the noise inside our heads and what happens when it falls silent." Brooklyn Bay, 1825 SE Franklin, Bay K, 241-9765, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, $15

The Flu Season
The mise en scene in Will Eno's more-meta-than-thou comedy is a psychiatric hospital, staffed by a deranged doctor and nurse. The patients are a pair known only as "Man" and "Woman," who fall in and out of love. Commenting on the action, and manifesting the play's latent self-awareness are two characters introduced as Prologue and Epilogue. As Prologue, who functions for the most part like a traditional narrator, Todd Van Voris' larger-than-life musings fill the stage with a heartbreakingly misplaced optimism. Meanwhile, Darius Pierce's vitriolic Epilogue channels Eno himself, a reminder that what we're watching has all been written by an anxious man sitting alone in a room trying to find the right words. AH Theatre Vertigo at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 306-0870, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, $15

Current Runs

Dirty Story
A direct attack on the nations involved with the present Middle East conflict—the United States, Palestine, Israel, and Great Britain—John Patrick Shanley's Dirty Story is a political satire that is difficult to summarize without ruining its latent joke. At the same time, that joke, once gotten, features a punchline of such staggering banality, I almost want to ruin it for you on principle. Third Rail's production of this extended cartoon is an extremely tight, professional production with impeccable staging from director Slaydon Scott and some stellar performances, particularly from Michael O'Connell as an overstuffed cowboy named Frank, and Damon Kupper as his foppish British sidekick Watson. And yet, the play itself is a shockingly unoriginal satire befitting of a Saturday Night Live skit, filtered through the three-hour musings of a brilliant playwright. Its increasingly annoying assault of tongue-in-cheek one-liners and obvious caricatures makes it hard to recommend, and yet its strange elemental clash of informed intellectuality and knock-knock joke also makes it oddly compelling. JWS Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, 5340 N Interstate, 235-1101, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Oct. 8, $15-20

The Hyacinth Macaw
defunkt theatre presents Part 2 in its ongoing effort to produce all four installments of Mac Wellman's deliriously weird Crowtet series. Directed by Ben Plont. Back Door, 4321 SE Hawthorne, 481-2960, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 4 pm, through Oct. 22, $8-15


Fiddy Cent's Back to School Shopping Spree
Now on their fifth installment of sketch comedy shows, the folks at Renob Control are downright veterans. Back Door Theater, 4319 SE Hawthorne, 750-5363, Fri-Sat 10:30 pm, through Oct. 8, $7

The second installment of "Missis-Improv" at Mississippi Studios once again finds Portland all stars Brad Fortier, Nate Halloran, Phil Incorvia, Kent McCarty, and Brandan McClain coming together to make funny stuff up. Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi, 703-3026, Sat 8 pm, $10