Opening This Week

Appalachian Ebeneezer
Dickens meets coal-mining in this Depression-era restaging of the holiday classic A Christmas Carol. Fans of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack will "dig" it. Don't "mined" if we do. Heh. Artists Repertory Theatre, 1516 SW Alder St, 241-1278, Opens Sun 8 pm, runs Tues-Thurs, Sun 7 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Dec 23, $15-30

Mrs. California
A 1950s housewife wins a beauty contest, which throws her domestic world into disarray, in Magdelyn's new show. Magdelyn Theatre Company, 403 NW 5th, (971) 544-1736, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Dec 20, $12-$14

The Humperdink Family Reunion
The very cute and funny All Jane No Dick alum, Stacey Hallal, presents a one-woman show about family relationships, in which she plays 20 different characters. The new improv group Kick the Squirrel opens. at the Hollywood Theater, 41st and NE Sandy, 233-5798, Fri-Sat 9 pm, through Nov 15, $10

Turandot
Puccini's operatic rendition of the age-old tale of the prissy Chinese Princess Turandot, who sends potential suitors to the executioner if they can't answer three riddles. As usual, Portland Opera will, for some bizarre reason, only show this thing three times, so don't dawdle. Portland Opera Company, at the Keller Auditorium, 222 SW 3rd, 241-1802, November 8, 13, & 15, $30-$125

One Week Only

* Bayden and The Bard
The Bayden is a touring two-man improv group in town for one week only. The Brody will follow their performance with a sneak preview of their upcoming show The Bard, which will feature improvised songs, dances, and entire musical production numbers. Fun! Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Fri-Sat 8 pm, $10

* Bikes, Bands, and Bacchanalia
Liminal presents an odd, but fun-sounding season-ending benefit party with the Sang Froid Riding Club, the local nonprofit devoted to motorcycle riding. There will be a lecture on motorcycle engines, motorcycle rides around downtown, a performance from Sang Froid, music from Bronwyn and the Minor Thirds, and plenty of booze. Liminal Space, 403 NW 5th, 890-2993, Thurs 8:30 pm, $5

Closing This Week

* Big Love
Vertigo's version of Charles Mee's modern riff on Aeschylus' The Suppliant Maidens is light and fast, and conveys the lucid mayhem that has made this play huge on the fringe circuit. The climactic murder scene, replete with a bathtub drowning and a suffocation-via-mop, is both horrific and hilarious. JWS Theatre Vertigo at the Electric Company, 2512 SE Gladstone, 306-0870, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 4 pm, through Nov 8, $15

* Mister Murdery
For a play about sexually tense nurses and lesbian slayers, Mister Murdery is most amazing in its subtlety. The script weaves post-P.C. plays-on-words with the jargon of bureaucracy, while syntax is used both as a flexible toy and as a dangerous weapon. The Greek chorus takes the form of an omniscient radio, transmitting skewed news and corporate-sponsored ghost stories. If one gets lost in the bipolar shuffle of tongue-twisters and mind-fucks, it's only because the play is working very, very well. TP The Cardboard Box Theatre Company, at the Electric Company, 2512 SE Gladstone, 232-7667, Fri-Sat 10:30 pm, through Nov 8, $10

Current Runs

* A Moon for the Misbegotten
James Tyrone (Tim True) is an educated, alcoholic New Yorker living in a small town, and also the owner of Josie (Luisa Sermol) and her dad, Phil's (Douglas Mace) ramshackle farm. Bored and too smart for his own good, Tyrone whiles away the days drinking whiskey and hanging out with Phil and Josie on their sagging porch. His life seems devoid of joy, the proposed reason being his unfulfilled love for the rugged, voluptuous Josie. True plays his edified lush with affected restraint. His movements are stiff and cautious, as if requiring tremendous deliberation. His words are tentative; he wants to believe what he's saying, but he's not sure if he can. Sermol's counter to this relentless detachment is a fierce focus; a scrutinizing of every word True says in desperate search of a sentiment from him she can lean on. It's a deeply layered portrayal of a tough, rural woman who's made a life out of hiding her vulnerabilities. JWS Coho Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 220-2646, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Nov 29, $18-$20

Dance

* holy goats
Portland's homiest occasional Sunday dance/music improv session is back. This month includes Water St. Project co-founder Tracy Broyles, musician and dancer Jim Altieri, and as always, plenty more. Performance Works NorthWest, 4625 SE 67th Ave, 288-1498, Sun 2 pm, $7, includes coffee and bagel

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