Opening This Week

* Enteractive Language Festival
The 3rd annual Enteractive Language Festival has begun, which means it's another November full of arts events that don't fit into any of the Mercury's pre-designated arts sections. Confusing classification aside, though, the ELF keeps getting better, and this year is its strongest yet. It kicks off on Thursday, Oct 28 with a lecture by "complexity" expert/electronic musician Dr. Alder Fuller (see why these events don't fit anywhere?) at the Optic Nerve Gallery, 1829 NE Alberta, 6 pm. It continues Friday, Oct 29 with the spooky local musical group Waldteufel, who will induce a healthy dose of percussion and noise" to recreate the mythical "Wild Host," a "frightening parade of furious black riders, often mutilated, accompanied by hounds, wolves, and other animals"; The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th, 8 pm, $7. Then, on Saturday, Oct 30 we've got the Language of Monsters, at which noise bands like 300 Foot Orchestra and Nequaquam Vacuum will perform Halloween-themed "Monster Rock"; Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th, 9 pm, $5-15. On Monday, Nov 1, look for Ancestral Tongues, a confusing-sounding evening of "pan-ethnic dance and spontaneous ritual," with an animated video from Will Vinton Studios; The Mitzpah, 2456 SE Tamarack, 7 pm, free. And finally, on Tuesday, Nov 2, check out Language of the Elect, a street performance by San Francisco artist Alexis McKee AKA Miss Capitalism, who will offer treats and salvation to participants who confess their capitalist sins and desires. Her base is the p:ear gallery, 809 SW Alder, 3-5 pm, artist reception 7 pm. See for more info and the rest of the month's lineup.

Boston Marriage
Things are stirring again at Coho, which opens its 2004-05 season with David Mamet's play about two Victorian women of fashion who live together as if married. Coho Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 220-2646, Opens Fri, runs Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Dec 4, $21

Portland Story Theater
Portland Story Theater celebrates the art of storytelling with three late-night creepy tales of murder and the supernatural: "The Moonlit Road," "The Two Tutus," and "Isabelle." Coho Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 220-2646, Fri-Sat 10:30pm, through Nov 13, $8

One Week Only

* Cabaret Boris and Natasha
Performance Works' semi-regular cabaret-style evening multimedia continues with comic monologues from Gigi Rosenberg, a solo dance from Katherine Gray, and "pimp pop" from the band Koto y Soto. Performance Works NorthWest, 4625 SE 67th Ave, 777-1907, Fri-Sat 8 pm, $9-13

Closing This Week

* Below the Belt
For many, the workplace feels like a prison; in Richard Dresser's Below the Belt, it may actually be one. When corporate drone Dobbitt (Ian Hanley) gets transferred to an overseas location, he finds himself in a desert compound with guards patrolling the premises, a polluted river running through, and terrifying creatures skulking in the wilderness just beyond the fences. Dresser's genius is in creating characters that are largely unaware of the absurdity of themselves and their situation, and director Micah Sunshower Klatt and his cast are wise enough to play things straight. The set design and scene transitions are clumsy, and the closing moments feel painfully awkward and unfinished, but Klatt and his energetic cast have a good grasp on the text's dark irony and nuance. JWS Tribe Theatre, 403 NW 5th, 227-3976, Fri-Sat 8 pm, $10-15

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, Thurs-Sat 7:30 pm, Sat 2 pm, $12-15

King Lear
The all-star cast keeps this bloated production watchable. Director Chris Coleman has always been in love with his own visual flair, but not even Lear needs to be three and a half hours long. JWS Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 274-6588, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, $15-55

Night of the Living Dead
See review this issue. Northwest Children's Theater, 1819 NW Everett St, 222-4480, Fri-Sat 10 pm, $12-15

* Toxic Avenger: The Musikill
In the hands of local schlock auteur Ira Kortum, who wrote, directed and stars in this production, the musical adaptation of Avenger sticks pretty close to the terrain covered in the movie. Set in the fictitious Tromaville, New Jersey, a gawky janitor overcomes the dynamic duo of '80s movie adversity--social alienation and sexual frustration--after he's exposed to toxic waste. Also, he beats the living shit out of some bad dudes with a mop. But what makes the stage version of Avenger so inspired isn't the enduring nature of the narrative. It's the way the cast convincingly captures what made the original so great: they look like they are having a lot of fun. Come dressed as your favorite Troma character Halloween night and receive $3 off your ticket price. JM Disjecta, 116 NE Russell , 335-6979, Thurs-Sun 8 pm, Sat 4 pm, $15

* Johnny Stallings' King Lear
Stallings' oddly fascinating solo rendition of Shakespeare's grandest play has been extended. Check it out! Brooklyn Bay, 1825 SE Franklin, Bay K, 235-5745, Fri-Sat 8 pm, $12


...He Was Costuming Angels
See review this issue. Disjecta, 116 NE Russell , 335-6979, Fri-Sun 8 pm, $12

Prajwal Ratna Vajracharya
Portlander Vajracharya and his disciples present Charya Nirtya, a millennium-old "Tantric Buddhist dance form that is virtually unknown outside the circles of those who perform it." Interestingly, the form is ancestral to the popular American dance movement known as "The Funky Chicken." World Buddhist Preaching Association, 1722 SE Madison, 807-5252, Fri 7 pm, donations accepted