Opening This Week

Duck Variations
It's hard to go wrong with early David Mamet works. The awkwardly named Little Bro Big Sista theater company presents this production of his play about two dudes kicking it on a bench. Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, 5340 N. Interstate, 267-9475, Opens Fri, runs Thurs-Sat 7:30 pm, Sat 2 pm, through Oct 30, $12-15

King Lear
Portland Center Stage attacks its 2004-2005 season with a distinctly modern rendition of Lear set in the era and featuring Cordelia as a nubile raver. Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 274-6588, Opens Fri, runs Tues-Wed, Sun 7 pm, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Oct 31, $15-55

* W! The Musical
See Interview This Issue. Triangle Productions, Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 239-5919, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Oct. 30, $17-23

One Week Only

* Amber Martin
See My! What a Busy Week!, pg. 19. Wild Abandon, 2411 SE Belmont, 232-4458, Tues 9 pm, $15

Trigger Kids
A one-man show by a fellow named Joe von Appen in which "communism, glue sniffing, phone sex, and existentialism all converge in a kaleidoscope of passion and delusion." Million, 120 NE Russell, Fri 10 pm, $3

Closing This Week

* Tone Clusters
"Oh, there's so much misunderstanding," remarks a flustered Emily Gulick (Fayra Teeters) in Upstart Theatre's inaugural production, a faithful reading of Joyce Carol Oates' multimedia play Tone Clusters. Seated next to her husband, Frank (V. Spencer Page) in the midst of what seems like an episode of Frontline produced by Samuel Beckett, Emily's comment refers to how the media has portrayed her son, who has been accused of and imprisoned for the brutal rape and murder of the 14-year-old girl who lives next door. JM Disjecta, 116 NE Russell, 335-6979, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, $8-10

Current Runs

* A Murder of Crows
Susannah (Frances Binder) and Raymond (Ben Plont) are a daughter/father pair bound by a common curiosity, a craving for destruction, and a disregard for the materialist age of civilization. Both actors provide the play with a spooky charm, with Binder as the disarmingly cool poetess and Plont filling the stage with a furious, glacially impressive performance. TP Back Door Theater, 4321 SE Hawthorne , 993-9062, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 4 pm, through Oct 16, $8-15

* Kiss It!
In Kiss It!, new Stark Raving Resident Playwright Amy Wheeler explores the heavily trod trail of sexual identity and gender politics. Her thoughtful, affectionate characters, in tandem with Director Matt Zrebski's succinct staging, defy Stark Raving's crude penchant for intellectual kink. TP Stark Raving, at the Coho Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 232-7072, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through Oct 16, $10-18

Lorca in a Green Dress
The first production in this fall's two-part "Cruz craze." Portland Center Stage will deliver the second Nilo Cruz play in November with their rendition of Anna in the Tropics. This week, stick around after Sunday's matinee for the Cruz Craze Symposium, at which Lorca director Olga Sanchez and Anna director Timothy Douglas will discuss why Cruz is just about the most produced playwright in America right now. The Miracle Theater, 525 SE Stark Street, 236-7253, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Oct 16, $14-17

The Mercy Seat
Ben (Leigh J. Guyer) is a Manhattan business-type, a husband, and a father who works in the World Trade Center and is having an affair with his boss, Abby (Karen Trumbo). The dawn of 9/12/01 finds the adulterous couple hiding out in Abby's apartment, saved from the 9/11 bombings the day before by a spontaneous break from work for a quickie blowjob. JWS Artists Repertory Theatre, 1516 SW Alder St, 241-1278, Tues-Thurs, Sun 7 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Oct 24, $15-35

Uncle Vanya
I've never been big on tradition, but even so, I can't help but feel I've violated a serious theater writing taboo this week: Halfway through Imago's production of Uncle Vanya, I walked out. It was not a decision made lightly, but rather as the culmination of years of build-up. As a troubled theater lover who grows more jaded almost weekly, I am fed up. I am fed up with relatively well-funded theater companies using actors who can barely remember their lines. I am fed up with turgid staging and thoughtless line readings. But most of all, I am tired of the rampant and feeble attempts to disguise it all in a shroud of cooler-than-thou attitude. As the two leads in Chekhov's lovely play of sexual frustration, Imago stalwarts Jerry Mouawad (Vanya) and Carol Triffle (Yelena) are baffling. They seem like they're auditioning for a zombie movie, staring vacantly and speaking in droning monotones. Their butchering of Chekhov's seething text wouldn't be so annoying if it didn't seem... intentional somehow; a spit in the dead playwright's face from two die-hard minimalists who, for reasons known only to them, steadfastly refuse to address his fascinating psychological underpinnings. The rest of the cast, as directed by Mouawad, unsurprisingly follows suit. Yes, there's a chance, had I stayed to the end, that, all this would have corrected itself in the second act and the production would have concluded in a dazzling, utterly redemptive flourish. Feel free to let me know if it does. JWS Imago Theater, 17 SE 8th Ave, 221-5857, #3, Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri 7 pm, Sat 5 pm, through Oct 16, $20-24


Agnieszka Laska Dancers
In an unfortunate scheduling boo-boo, the Agnieszka Laska Dancers' new show Songs of Eva is opening the same night as the Oregon Ballet's season opener. So unless you're a dance junkie, you have a choice to make: hip and modern and cheap at Laska, or stodgy and pricey at OBT? Lincoln Hall, PSU, 1620 SW Park Ave, 1-800-757-7384, Fri-Sun 7:30 pm, $7.50-15

Movement as Metaphor
Oregon Ballet Theatre's season opener is a safe-seeming blend of classic and contemporary works, including a Balanchine piece, and the world premiere of Swan Lake, Act III. Oregon Ballet, at Keller Auditorium, SW 3rd & Clay, 222-5538, Oct 9, 15-16 @ 7:30 pm, Oct 10 @ 2 pm, $7-90