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Weekend Theater Reviews

The Winchester House (Photo by Ed Krieger)

GO 1001 BEDS Tim Miller’s autobiographical tales, tinctured with magical realism, cover the politics and perseverance of being a gay performance artist. This may feel dated if not for the fact that over 20 years of advocacy, gay rights has certainly transformed public attitudes but left nary a dent in our country’s laws. And so it is only appropriate now that Miller looks back to make a reckoning; here he performs excerpts from his new book, an overview of his life as an activist-artist. Conspicuously absent is his notorious bout with the government concerning the retraction of his NEA grant, and the vocal, anti-gay fury he encountered in many cities throughout the nation. This performance focuses on two moments in his life that hold special meaning for Miller: the meeting of his partner, Alistair McCartney, during a performance workshop in London; and a recent protest for gay rights in front of the Federal Building in downtown L.A., at which he was arrested, and through which McCartney worked for his immediate release. Perhaps more tame than one might expect from a Miller piece, it carries quite an impact nonetheless. Highways, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; thru May 20. (310) 315-1459. (Luis Reyes)

GO SOLOMANIA!: Live From the Front After establishing his leftist credentials with a few terse one-liners, Pacifica Radio journalist Jerry Quickley simply tells us what he saw in Iraq, without preaching to the choir. As the second Gulf War loomed, he chose to go there independently, distrusting the U.S. government more than the Iraqis. (He tells his Queens homeboys that, if they see pictures of him in handcuffs at Guantanamo Bay, that he’s “definitely not a terrorist — just one more nigger without a lawyer.”) Quickley arrived in Baghdad just before the start of the war. After undergoing two nights of heavy bombing, he was suddenly deported by the Iraqi government, via a 600-kilometer highway of death, subject to U.S. bombing and attacks by the Ali Babas — pirate-thieves who prey on travelers. Along the way of the cluster-bomb-scarred landscape, he encountered a burned-out school bus full of fried children, and the carcasses of camels and sheep, with their dying shepherd. Though Quickley survived the trip, his “minders” did not. The storyteller is most convincing when he’s describing rather than dramatizing, and letting the images speak for themselves. Reg E. Gaines provides straightforward direction. Kirk Douglas Theater, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; in rep, call for schedule; thru June 11. (213) 628-2772. (Neal Weaver)

GO THE WINCHESTER HOUSE Julia Cho’s play may not have much to do, even metaphorically, with the eponymous tourist spot in San Jose, but her story about a young woman investigating the moment at which she was seduced by a family friend has enough innate mystery at its heart to whet and keep our interest. Via (Kimiko Gelman) is an obscure singer who reenacts moments from an Asian-immigrant family life ruled by a distant physicist father (Nelson Mashita), gossipy mother (Dian Kobayashi) and seemingly unhelpful brother (Greg Watanabe). They are all spellbound by John and Helen Bergin (Arye Gross and Laura Wernette), a witty faculty couple whose summer home they constantly visit. Cho nicely thwarts audience expectations regarding Via’s bitter search for truth and makes some telling observations about how unreliable (or hideously reliable) other people’s memories can be. Still, the show screeches to a halt every time Via sings one of her folky “three and a half songs,” and Via, who directly addresses the audience throughout the 90-minute play, schizophrenically switches from a spare poetry to an annoyingly literal narrative to describe the people in her life. Director Chay Yew sensitively orchestrates the action across scenic designer Susan Gratch’s spare apron, whose upstage border is formed by the dense clutter of stored furniture and forgotten paintings, while Jose Lopez’s soft lighting plot accents the characters’ vulnerabilities. Theater @ Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru June 18. (626) 683-6883. (Steven Mikulan)


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