Closing This Week

Thirst begins as a noble tribute to three women haunted by the beauty and pain of the world, but unravels too quickly, like a long, red scarf, into a crazy-lady puppet show. The play's subject matter doesn't deserve the unintentional giggles it elicits from the audience, and is toned by too many lonely, lonely girls, and too many art-school tricks. The well-intentioned actors resemble a troupe of lonely bridesmaids, sobered up and suicidal at the end of the last dance. The play, performed by three women and directed by a man (Jonathan Larson), inverts the cock-happy arrogance of David Mamet into self-destructive gynocentricity. This is Thirst's biggest sin, underlining the notion that an important female must throw herself under a train or stick her head in an oven in order to achieve a place in history. TP Hand2Mouth at Performance Works, 4625 SE 67th, 235-5284, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, through Dec 14, $7-10

Current Runs

* Biglittlethings
Biglittlethings features singing ducks, hitchhiking rabbits, insomniac hippos, and more. Like Frogz it will mix puppetry, masks, soundscapes, and live actors to what will almost certainly be dazzling effect. Imago Theater, 17 SE 8th, 231-9581, Wed-Sat 7:30 pm, Sat-Sun 1:30 pm, Sun 5:30 pm, through Dec 28, $14-24

Judy's Scary Little Christmas
A musical adaptation of a fictitious Judy Garland Christmas special, with characters like Bing Crosby, Joan Crawford, and Richard Nixon. Sounds like theatrical suicide, though it features Triangle faves Daria O'Neill as Ethel Merman and Michael Teufel as Liberace. Triangle Productions, at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 239-5919, Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 5 pm, through Dec 21, $19-23

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

Talented director Lorraine Bahr misguides Rumi's young cast by staging the text superficially straight. Though the poet Rumi was born in Afghanistan and wrote about the then idyllic, now decimated holy cities of the Middle East, the play shies away from any ironic critique of the subject matter. In a time when Americans know little of Arab culture beyond Fascist propaganda, a jolt of thoughtful and poetic verse shouldn't be diluted by actors putting on ambiguous accents and mugging for the audience. Where the play could be teased for its blatant sexism (rape and polygamy are taken for granted), the sex-swaps and seductions are treated with Three's Company farcical hijinx. A traditional, religiously disciplined production of Rumi could have amazed audiences with its universal soul, but this loosely-translated, goofed-up play all but saps the text of its potential impact. TP Toad City Productions, at the Back Door, 4321 SE Hawthorne, 736-1027, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Dec 20, $10-12

The SantaLand Diaries & A Christmas Memory
The lesson learned when PCS put on this show last year is that David Sedaris' writing does not translate well to a theatrical setting, and yet the production was hugely popular, so PCS is reviving it. But local boy Steve Wilkerson's mugging performance in SantaLand Diaries is a fatal blow to Sedaris' famed tone of comic dryness. Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 274-6588, Tues-Wed, Sun 7 pm, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, Thurs noon, through Dec 23, $16-51


* Urban Bush Women
This group of seven African-American Urban Bush Women (plus two dancers from Mozambique) present a funky, satirical, and even kind of sexy blend of dance and music. Plus! Oversized animal puppets! White Bird, at PSU/Lincoln Hall, SW Park & Market, 224-4400, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, $12-24

Jump for Joy!
It has a nauseating title, but Do Jump!'s new holiday show should be jam-packed with cool aerial stunts and funny bits, if their past shows are any indicator, that is. Do Jump! at the Echo Theatre, 1515 SE 37th, 231-1232, Fri-Sat 7:30 pm, Sun 3 pm, through Jan 4, $15-20


* The 3rd Floor Takes a Holiday
Jordana Barnes, Andy Buzan, Kevin-Michael Moore, and the rest of the mah-velous 3rd Floor crew present a holiday-themed sketch comedy bundle of joy. They'll address Valentine's Day, Father's Day, Easter, and the always hilarious Armistice Day! The 3rd Floor, at the Miracle Theatre, 525 SE Stark, 258-1681, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Dec 27, $10

* The Bard
A late-night show featuring improvised songs, dances, and entire musical production numbers. Cool! Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Sat 10:30 pm, through Dec 13, $9

* Antiques Improv Show
The Brody revives its popular riff on the Antiques Road Show, and for good reason. The Antiques Improv Show's blend of audience participation and object "appraisals" is one of the most fun and innovative the company has ever come up with. Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Dec 20, $12