opening this week

Caught in the Net
More British farce from Triangle by Ray Cooney. This one's about a cab driver trying to keep the respective children of his two wives from finding out about each other. Ahh, dragging your kids into your polygamous lifestyle... does it get any funnier than that? Triangle Productions, at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 239-5919, Fri 8 pm, Sun 5 pm, through May 25, $23

The silliest musical to ever hit the mainstream comes to the Portland fringe. All hippies and giggles aside, though, this show really does have some cool songs, and an unusual zany energy that makes it stand out. Plus, there's nudity! Radiant Theatre, at Artichoke Music, 2315 NE Alberta, 502-8261, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through May 25, $14

Spirits of the Ordinary
An adaptation of Kathleen Alcala's novel, which explores a Jewish Mexican's quest for a gold mine that haunts his dreams. The Miracle Theater, 525 SE Stark Street, 236-7253, Opens Fri, runs Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through May 31, $13

one week only

One Hour in Eden
A new musical by Reed student Rob Fishel, about the story of Adam and Eve and the Fall of Man. It's great when a young'un shows ambition both in theme and execution. Play Workshop Theatre at Coho Theater, 3203 SE Woodstock, 274-6838, Thurs 8:30 pm, $5 donation

The Jefferson Dancers
Straight outta Jefferson High School, these teenagers have the exuberance of youth and the talent of the best pros around. A good time at this show is guaranteed. Unless you're blind. Newmark Theater, Portland Center for the Performing Arts, SW Broadway & Main, 224-4400, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, $16.50

closing this week

Strangers and Romance
Two one-act plays written by Barbara Lhota about couples trying to connect in a cold, hard world. Magdelyn Theatre Company, 403 NW 5th, (971) 544-1736, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through May 3, $10-$12

Set in a small town in the frozen north, Tundra revolves around a reporter sent to investigate a hermetic composer and the controversial origin of his final pieces. The overwhelming personality in Tundra is of place, of a chilled, empty landscape and its pestilential control over human life. It leaves the audience with lonely musings. AS Stark Raving, at the Coho Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 232-7072, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through May 3, $10-$15

New Rave Late Night
Stark Raving's little slew of late night new work experimentation comes to an end with Stephen Cohen's "musical thoughts on 21st-century war and peace," and Matthew Zrebski's The Vespiary. Stark Raving, at the CoHo Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 232-7072, Fri-Sat 10:45 pm, $8

current runs

Frogz is always fun, but it could benefit from some fresh writing. The ability of its cast to imitate frogs, crocodiles, cats, penguins, and even accordions is unparalleled, but the stories and situations these characters occupy are surprisingly mundane. Penguins play musical chairs, frogs hop around a bit and catch a fly, crocs wander through the aisles and look menacing. It's titillating, but not affecting. A new work, "Rabbits," is possibly the best of the lot, featuring movement skill as sophisticated as any of the other acts, and a clever, witty story to bring it all to the next level. JWS Imago Theater, 17 SE 8th Ave, 231-9581, Wed-Sat 7:30 pm, Sat-Sun 1:30 pm, Sun 5:30 pm, through June 1, $14-$24

Portland's Underground Showbiz Society, Y'All!
With acts like the Mysterious Actor Players and Rachel Parenta, this night is bound to at least not be boring. Plus, its name spells a pretty nifty acronym. Obsidian Gallery, 420 SW Washington, 6th Floor, 249-3742, Sun 7 pm, through May 25, $3

Run For Your Wife
A hilarious tale by Ray Cooney of a hardworking cab driver trying to keep his two wives from finding out about each other. Triangle Productions, at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 239-5919, Thurs 7:30 pm, Sat 8 pm, through May 24, $23

So What's Your Story?
The premise: an improviser starts telling a story, and midway through, the rest of the improvisers jump in to enact it through to its breathtaking conclusion. Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through May 17, $10

The Old Master Painter
Playmaker Jonathan Walters is back with a new one featuring dancing vegetables, prophetic elephants, and singing cornstalks. Hand 2 Mouth Theatre, 6401 SE Foster, 235-5284, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, through May 3rd, $10

Three Plays, Five Lives
Love it or hate it, it is impossible to not be impressed by its exquisite layers of detail. Three ramps, strikingly white against the Liminal Space's dark, vast walls, provide a brilliantly simple platform for a merciless, exhilarating blend of movement and text experimentation. The three women (Amanda Boekelheide, Georgia Luce, and Madeleine Sanford) and two men (Jeff Marchant and Patrick Wohlmut) that make up the "five lives," roll, flip, dangle and slide back and forth and up and down the ramps, all the while chanting, singing, or just saying the text from three different plays by Alex Reagan. What it all adds up to is... challenging, to say the least, not to mention brilliant. JWS Liminal Space, 403 NW 5th, 890-2993, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, through May 17, $6-$12

Three Tall Women
Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winning riff on an elderly woman looking back on her turbulent past. The Profile Theatre Project at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 242-0080, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through May 25, $12-$25

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