Opening This Week

A Midsummer Night's Dream
Portland Actors Ensemble's 34th annual Shakespeare in the Park production is probably Shakespeare's most park-friendly play. Shakespeare in the Park, at Laurelhurst Park, 321-0710, Sat-Sun 3 pm, through Sept 1, free

* Electropuss
This cringe-inducing title is a new play by Trista Baldwin, who wrote Stark Raving's alleged hit Frogwoman. Now she hones her sights on corporate America, in the confines of a drone factory called the ElectricLand Electric Company. Stark Raving, at the Coho Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 232-7072, Opens Fri 8 pm, runs Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through Aug 23, $8-&17

* Krapp's Last Tape
Beckett's solo show about a man reliving his past with the help of a tape recorder is an absolutely perfect choice for Liminal, Portland's leader in theatrical multimedia stylings. Liminal Space, 403 NW 5th, 890-2993, Thurs-Sat 10:30 pm, through Aug 9, $6-$15

One Week Only

The Gardener's Son
Local filmmaker Lawrence Johnson tests out his new play about a young man's transformation from gardener to quadriplegic. Coho Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 220-2646, Tues 7:30 pm, free

* JAW/West
PCS' festival of new plays, Just Add Water (JAW), is always a good time, with professionally staged readings of new plays that are almost invariably given full-scale productions soon afterwards. This year's fest features work by Portland's playwriting Golden Boy, Joseph Fisher, Six Feet Under producer/writer Kate Robin, and two more. Call for full schedule and details. Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 274-6588, Sat-Sun 4 & 8 pm, $10 per reading, $30 for a festival pass

Closing This Week

This Burning Heart
There is not a bit of playfulness or irony imbued in the title This Burning Heart, a new play from Theater of the Invisible. Written and performed by the zealous Gwynne Allyn Warner, the show attempts to take on the pain of the developing world and weld it into a performance piece of extraordinary depth and emotion. Unfortunately, what comes through is a rather shallow, melodramatic melange of new age music, mystic poetry, stomping antics and much womanly wailing. AS Theatre of the Invisible, at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, 5340 N Interstate, 452-7113, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, $15

Current Runs

As You Like It
Quintessence claims to triple the normal rehearsal process in order to become more intimately familiar with Shakespeare's language. The results are typically fairly significant; whether for the bad or good, Quintessence at least makes bold and unique choices with the text--a rarity in this town. Quintessence, at the Mago Hunt Theatre, University of Portland, 5000 N Willamette, 943-7287, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, through Aug 8, $12

The rapidly growing and improving (funny how the two seem to go hand in hand) Theatre Vertigo presents a fun summery kind of murder mystery comedy thing by Jeff Goode, who is still trying to top his hilarious Poona the Fuckdog. Theatre Vertigo at the Russell Street Theater, 2512 SE Gladstone, 306-0870, Thurs-Sat 9 pm, through Aug 3, $12


* Conduit Summer Performance Festival Series
Conduit's series of movement larks ends this weekend with a work from choreographer Carla Mann and composer Heather Perkins called Little Humans, plus a few more. Conduit Studio, 918 SW Yamhill, 4th Floor, 221-5857, Fri-Sat 8 pm, $12-$14


Church Bizarre
Ah, hilarity at the expense of the sacred and profane; does it get any better than that? Big Belly presents an evening of church-themed sketch comedy developed through a series of improv sessions. Big Belly at the Back Door, 4321 SE Hawthorne, 233-5798, Fri-Sat 8 pm & 10:30 pm, through July 26, $10

Fan Appreciation Weekend
All right fans of ComedySportz, come on down and be appreciated with games and prizes that include a luxury box replete with wait service and free beverages, and a "valuable gift." ComedySportz Arena, 1963 NW Kearney Street, 236-8888, Fri 8 pm, Sat 7 pm & 9 pm, $12

Support The Portland Mercury

SLAY Film Fest
In person at the Clinton St. Theater 10/29 & 10/30