Nods this week for Philip Dawkins The Homosexuals (Celebration Theatre at Atwater Village Theatre), Pierre Corneille's The Liar (Antaeus Company), and Lina Gallegos' Wild in Witchita (LATC). But it's a Halloween-season horror-play, six tales spun from the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, called Lovecraft: Nightmare Suite (at the Lex), that nabs this week's Pick of the Week. For all the latest new theater reviews and regional listings, see below.

Jason Grote's gentle comedy Civilization, about spiritual slippage in our culture, is the topic of this week's theater feature.

NEW THEATER REVIEW: scheduled for publication October 17, 2013

BOTTOM OF THE WORLD Lucy Thurber's incohesive melodrama appears to have been written without the playwright's clear understanding of what she wanted to say. Abigail (Stephanie O'Neill), who's been traumatized by her sister's death, can't relate to friends or lovers, and prefers communicating with her dead sibling Kate, a former writer. Perched in a tree, Kate's ghost (Natalie Burney) peppers sophomoric truisms into her “reading” of her last novel, about two country boys (Jeremy Mascia and Steve Madar) whose love lives upend their friendship. The re-enactment of this fictional story alternates with Abigail's. Meanwhile another subplot brews around the soon-to-be-divorced parents of Abigail's best friend. Keeping track of the goings-on isn't easy because some actors double up on their roles (the playwright's choice). If there's a thematic thread that binds these stories together, it's eluded me. Ric Zimmerman's lighting design and Naomi Kasahara's set create an interesting ambience on the tiny proscenium, which director Sabina Ptasznik utilizes efficiently; however, opting to mime a number of the props (dishes and so on) is an unprofessional distraction. O'Neill and Burtney hobble the production with one-dimensional performances but other portrayals, including Mascia's lovelorn swain, Madar's jealous bridegroom, and Michael Edelstein's middle-aged cuckold are more substantial. Rosemary Stevens' dotty matrons (she plays two) lighten up the evening but there's still more interesting subtext to be mined. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd, Hlywd.; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through November 3. (616) 745-3665, (Deborah Klugman)

GO: CIVILIZATION Jason's Grote's gentle comedy at Son of Semele Ensemble. See theater feature.

GO: THE HOMOSEXUALS Philip Dawkins' comedy revolves around Evan (boyishly cute blond Brian Dare), who arrives in town as a naive, newly out greenhorn but soon joins a mildly incestuous circle of gay friends, including four guys and one girl, Tam (Kelly Schumann), a history teacher and sassy, self-defined fag hag. Collin (Matt Crabtree) falls for Evan on sight, and they become lovers. Michael (Kurt Quinn) is the nice-but-nebbishy guy who can't get laid. Mark (David Fraioli) is a slightly saturnine art teacher and gay activist, whose attempt to seduce Evan ends in a fight. British Mark (Ben Patterson) is buff, black and British, and his attempt to seduce Evan ends in stalemate, perhaps because both men are tops — though that might be negotiable. Peter (Butch Klein) is a musical comedy queen, who becomes Collin's successor as Evan's lover. Each of the six scenes is interesting and entertaining, but there's little real action and the narrative arc is weak — a fact emphasized by the playing of the scenes in reverse order, à la Merrily We Roll Along. But the piece is largely redeemed by director Michael Matthews' fine production and excellent performances from all the actors. Celebration Theatre at Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Atwater Village; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Dec. 1. (323) 957-1884, (Neal Weaver)


Marshall McCabe and Melissa Sullivan; Credit: Steven Gunther

Marshall McCabe and Melissa Sullivan; Credit: Steven Gunther

It has been observed that in a society where most aspects of health and safety are under some form of regulatory oversight, any fertile clown is free to parent a child regardless of suitability or competence. Playwright Susan Josephs' (who has written for L.A. Weekly) speculative satire considers the opposite extreme — what if prospective procreators were screened with the rigor of, say, the Harvard admissions committee before being granted a state child-rearing license? Marrieds Marshall McCabe and Jacqueline King arrive at their parenting interview (on Vincent Richards' inventive set) letter-perfect on the law but harboring some dark secrets from the government and each other. His includes a torrid past with interviewer Melissa Sullivan. It's a situation rife with slow-burning comic complications, and under Diana Wyenn's expert direction, the ensemble effectively mines Josephs' trenchant human absurdities and clever dramatic ironies. Unfortunately, the play's libertarian-flavored, dystopian premise exhausts itself, along with the laughs, far too long before the final curtain. Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., E. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.; through Oct. 27. (Bill Raden)


Just in time for Halloween, director Dan Spurgeon's adaptation of six of H.P Lovecraft's tales, Lovecraft: Nightmare Suite, gathers a ghoulish sampling of the dank hallways, forbidding places and supernatural creatures for which the author was known.In the segment “The Statement of Randolph Carter,” archeologists Mark Souza and Daniel Jimenez visit a cemetery and unwittingly unearth something that should have been left buried. Devereau Chumrau is impressive as the narrator of “The Cats of Ulthar,” about demonic felines. The story is effectively embellished by skilled puppetry and shadow mime.One of Lovecraft's best stories, “The Outsider,” explores themes of alienation and loneliness. Maya Eshet stars as a woman whose quest for human contact ends in a terrifying confrontation. Nicole Fabbri's character's stay at a rooming house places her in the company of a doctor with a chilling knack for cheating death in “Cool Air.” An overload of creepy sound effects nearly derails “Nyarlathotep,” as Daniel Jimenez invokes the horrifying power of an ancient deity. David Sousa's eerie lighting and John Burton's grotesque assortment of puppets and decrepit parlor-room set design (where on a wall hangs a vintage pic of the author) create an appropriately unsettling atmosphere. The Visceral Company at the Lex Theatre, 6760 Lexington Ave., Hlwyd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through Nov. 3. (Lovell Estell III)

i>GO: THE LIAR The anglophone update of Pierre Corneille's 17th-century comedy of manners Le Menteur is a spun confection of verbal sleight of hand, romantic trickery and dramatic derring-do. The real star is David Ives' script, a “translaptation” from the French into pentameter couplets, brought to vivid life by Antaeus' cast (there are two alternating casts, per the company's custom) under Casey Stangl's direction. Compulsive untruth teller Dorante (Graham Hamilton in the performance reviewed) rolls into Paris and quickly ensnares Cliton (Brian Slaten), a guileless manservant, before falling swollen head over insouciant heels in love with Clarice (Kate Maher), whom he mistakes for her tart-tongued friend Lucrece (Ann Noble). Unbeknownst to him, Clarice also is secretly betrothed to Dorante's friend Alcippe (Joe Delafield), and dizzying dramatic contortions ensue. The exuberant cast led by Hamilton pirouettes through the verse, teasing out the comic potential from each witticism and double entendre, though they're somewhat hampered by the length — come the second act, we've got a hangover brewing from the sugar rush. Angela Balogh Calin's costumes seem inspired by a goth prom: though aesthetically intriguing, their connection to the play's themes isn't obvious. Pine makes an amusingly complicit dupe, while Noble's appealing spunk parries with Hamilton's bravado. Antaeus Company, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2 p.m.; through Dec. 1. (818) 506-5436, (Jenny Lower)

PISTOLS & PRAYERS HBO Def Poetry Jam vet Ise Lyfe's provocative multimedia show, which blends spoken word, hip-hop and theater, was cut short after a sensational first act because of technical difficulties. A shame, because I, like the rest of the audience, was looking forward to the second act. Act I was driven by a selection of moody, introspective prose works and poems that survey the terrain of American culture and the black experience, starting with a moving tribute to God and the Ancestors. Lyfe is equal parts poet and street savvy philosophe who has a knack for telling it like it is. In the segment “They Like everything about us, but us,” he takes a blowtorch to political correctness and race relations, riffing on the hidden antagonisms between and among ethnic groups. “LOL” is a knee-slapping funny exploration of our enduring obsession with the almighty acronym. Greenway Theater, 544 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax District; Wed., 8 p.m.; through Nov. 27. (Lovell Estell III)

SILENT WITNESSES After surviving internment in a Nazi death camp as a child, Stephanie Satie found that her grim experiences were eclipsed by survivors who lived through camps as adults, because they were viewed as higher up in the “hierarchy of suffering.” The cultural revolution of 1970s prompted an era of self-exploration and brought three other child-survivors to her therapy door. The quartet of women regularly met to relate their “forbidden” stories, which had been buried for years. Satie was moved to recount everyone's tales in her solo show. While Satie mostly narrates her own saga, she frequently adopts different accents for the other three women when it's their time in the spotlight, delineating between each one with a twist of a scarf or donning a beret. There's some poetry in the vivid and harrowing descriptions but, strangely, the drawn-out show is resolutely unsentimental. The oft-repeated phrase “I never told this to anyone” lends gravitas to these private reminiscences, but the resulting one-act narrated drama curiously fails to resonate on an emotional level. Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Sun., 7:30 p.m. (800) 838-3006, silent (Pauline Adamek)

GO: WILD IN WICHITA Like the recent film Enough Said, Lina Gallegos' award-winning play explores courtship and love from a mature perspective: that of two septuagenarians in a Kansas nursing home. Carmela (Denise Blasor) and Joaquin (Sal Lopez) have been put in this home “temporarily” by their respective children, Raul (Alberto de Diego) and Lillian (Crissy Guerrero), and at the outset the elder two mix like aceite y agua. Carmela is Puerto Rican, educated and buttoned-up. Joaquin is Mexican, working-class and a bit of a rascal. But they both love music, food and each other's company, though Carmela does her best to resist Joaquin's advances. His attempts to convince her to “rage, rage against the dying of the light” are beautiful to watch, because it reminds us that the young don't hold a monopoly on vitality. Blasor, who also directs, skillfully plays Carmela's mannerly façade, revealing just enough to hint at her deep insecurities. Lopez, who has some of the best lines in the show, delivers much humor through his charming, easy manner. Guerrero and de Diego give fine performances as well. Carolina Ortiz's minimalist backdrop, combined with John A. Garofalo's lighting, evokes the windswept, wide open spaces of the Midwest, and Blasor's use of songs and movement during transitions reflects the poetic quality of this heartwarming work. Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., dwntwn.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through Nov. 3. (866) 811-4111, (Mayank Keshaviah)


All I Want Is Magic: Another musical revue at T.U. Studios, starring one dozen talented twentysomethings who are up-and-comers in the world of vocal music. Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Nov. 10. T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo St., North Hollywood, 818-205-1680.

Awake and Sing: Clifford Odets' drama, set in 1930s Bronx, about the Berger family's first generation clashing with the younger generation's desire for independence and freedom. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 3. Lonny Chapman Group Repertory Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-700-4878,

GO: The Bells of West 87th: Elin Hampton's play derives its comedy from the antics of an eccentric family. At 39, Molly (Cameron Meyer) has never escaped from the tyranny of her critical, exploitative parents, who have decided she's a lesbian because she won't wear makeup, and taunt her about her lack of a social life. Dad Eli (Robert Towers) is an elderly leprechaun obsessed with performing magic tricks and keeping the world informed of the state of his prostate. Domineering Mom Ida (Carol Locatell) walked out on Eli five years ago, and moved in with Molly. Now Molly has acquired a beau, Chris (James Marsters), an amateur poet who works at a miniature golf course, and she brings him home to meet the family, with predictably messy results. Superficially, the piece resembles You Can't Take It with You, but that play's sunny disposition is replaced by a more jaundiced view, as Molly strives to escape her tyrannical family. This is essentially sitcom stuff, but it's cleverly written and acted expertly by a solid ensemble, including Dagney Kerr as Molly's glamorous married sister. Director Richard Pierce keeps things moving briskly on the handsome, two-room set designed by Jeff McLaughlin. (Neal Weaver). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 6 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27. Greenway Court Theater, 544 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, 323-655-7679,

Bob Baker's Halloween Hoop-De-Do: First played at the theater in 1963. Featuring a fantastical cast of over 100 Halloween-themed puppets, from the Purple People Eater and the Invisible Man, to a gaggle of “Roaring 20's” skeletons dancing the night away in Hernando's Hideaway. Saturdays, Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays, 10:30 a.m. Continues through Nov. 3. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. First St., Los Angeles, 213-250-9995,

Brown & Out Theater Festival: A collection of eight new comedic and dramatic short plays celebrating the Latino, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning/Queer experience. Visit for a complete schedule. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through Nov. 3. Casa 0101, 2102 E. 1st St., Los Angeles, 323-263-7684,

GO: The Burnt Part Boys: With a hardscrabble Appalachian setting and a score that engagingly echoes the melodies of Copland, Bernstein and Sondheim, this captivating new musical (book by Mariana Elder, music by Chris Miller, and lyrics by Nathan Tysen) is both a sensitive meditation on grief and a heartfelt coming-of-age tale. Ten years after their dads perished in an accident at an isolated mine, a group of teenagers embark on a pilgrimage to visit the spot. Along the way, they are forced to confront their own mortality, their memories of their family and their goals for the future. Director Richard Israel's intimate and beautifully atmospheric production crackles with youthful energy, and, as the characters embark on their rural journey, the piece takes on the feel of a ghost story of loss and redemption. Under Gregory Nabours' crisp musical direction, the bluegrassy songs are executed with heart and gusto. The ensemble is populated by a cast of mostly young performers with unexpectedly subtle vocal chops and strong emotional range. A powerful turn is offered by Daniel David Stewart as Pete, the angry teen whose impulsive actions force his older brother (an equally powerful Aaron Scheff) to pursue him into the wild. (Paul Birchall). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Oct. 20. Third Street Theatre, 8115 W. Third St., Los Angeles, 323-655-9232.

Cirque du Soleil's Totem: A production from the Montreal-based contortionist circus, performed inside its trademark blue and yellow big top tent. Written and directed by world-renown multidisciplinary artist Robert Lepage, Totem traces the fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 4:30 p.m.; Fridays, 4:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 4:30 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 23, 8 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 24, 8 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 30, 8 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 10. Port of Los Angeles, Harbor Blvd. Promenade and Berth 87, San Pedro.

Civilization (all you can eat): A satirical romp of corruption, consumption, and success in the changing America of 2008. Following the lives of several character archetypes, Civilization looks back at that moment of hope, when America could have been anything. Written by Jason Grote. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.; Mon., Oct. 21, 7 p.m.; Mon., Oct. 28, 7 p.m. Continues through Nov. 3. Son of Semele, 3301 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, 213-351-3507,

See theater feature.

Cowboy Versus Samurai: The Los Angeles premiere of this re-imagining of the classic Cyrano de Bergerac tale featuring Asian Americans in a small town in Wyoming. Written by Michael Golamco, directed by Peter J. Kuo. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Oct. 20. Inner City Arts, 720 Kohler St., Los Angeles, 213-627-9621.

Creditors: David Grieg's new version of August Strindberg's psychological thriller, a savage, darkly comic take on the battle of the sexes. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-477-2055,

Delusion: Masque of Mortality: A Los Angeles-based horror event, running for its 3rd year. Every show-goer becomes their own protagonist in this interactive story, which takes place in the plague-riddled 1930s, with doctors promising not only a cure to the plague, but a life free of human limitations as well. Through Oct. 20, 7 p.m.; Through Oct. 27, 7 p.m.; Through Nov. 2, 7 p.m.; Through Nov. 9, 6 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 7, 7 p.m.; Fri., Nov. 8, 7 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 9, 6 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 14, 7 p.m.; Fri., Nov. 15, 7 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 16, 6 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 21, 7 p.m.; Fri., Nov. 22, 7 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 23, 6 p.m., Bethany Presbyterian Church, 1629 Griffith Park Blvd., Los Angeles.

GO: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep: Any adaptation of a novel is a compromise of approximation whose objective should be to faithfully capture the spirit and ideas of the prose in a dramatically compelling way. Which is why Philip K. Dick fans, who have repeatedly suffered the indignity of having their favorite sci-fi author plundered by dumbed-down Hollywood blockbusters, will cheer adapter Edward Einhorn's 2010, high-fidelity transliteration of Dick's wryly ironic, psychedelic, 1968 hall of mirrors. In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the time is a war-ravaged future in which the question of what it means to be human has been vastly complicated by a band of renegade androids passing themselves off as flesh-and-blood (it's the source material for Blade Runner). Freelance assassin Rick Deckard (Eric Curtis Johnson), a man who relies on a mood device to feel anything at all, is charged with weeding the imposters from the populace via administering “empathy tests” and summary execution. Suffice it to say that nothing is what it seems. Jaime Robledo's inventively cinematic staging (on DeAnne Millais' computer-detritus set) and an unusually fine ensemble (including Lynn Odell, Corey Klemow, Marz Richards and Rafael Goldstein) capture all the nuanced terms of Dick's allegory. But the real discovery of the evening is Kimberly Atkinson and her subtly delineated dual turn as the doppelgangers Rachael Rosen and Pris Stratton. (Bill Raden). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 19, Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Drive, Los Angeles, 310-281-8337,

Don't Dress for Dinner: A fast-paced comedy in the French tradition, about Bernard's plans for a romantic rendezvous with his chic Parisian mistress. Written by Marc Camoletti, adapted by Robin Hawdon, directed by Todd Nielson. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 3. International City Theatre, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, 562-436-4610,

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Adapted from the novella about the most famous of split personality disorders by Robert Louis Stevenson. Directed by Mary Jo Duprey. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 19, 2:30 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 16, 2:30 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. Actors Co-op, 1760 N. Gower St., Los Angeles, 323-462-8460,

The End of It: Breaking up is hard to do, particularly if you're embedded in a 20-year marriage. That's the not terribly surprising message of Paul Coates' play, illustrated by three couples: one straight (Kelly Coffield Park and playwright Coates), one gay (David Youse and William Franklin Barker) and one lesbian (Ferrell Marshall and Wendy Radford). The three couples appear sometimes separately, sometimes simultaneously, suggesting that they are almost interchangeable as they deal with such issues as anger, grief, blame, resentment, loss of desire, fear of aging and abandonment. Coates' script is intelligent, perceptive and sometimes funny, but almost fatally restrained. Only Park is given the opportunity to tap into the raw emotions inherent in the situation. Director Nick DeGruccio marshals his fine actors through a nearly impeccable production, on François-Pierre Couture's blandly elegant set, but no amount of direction can provide the excitement the text fails to supply. (Neal Weaver). See Stage feature: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through Oct. 20. Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 323-852-1445,

Endgame: Samuel Beckett's 1957 masterpiece about the human condition, directed by Geoff Elliott. A single act play with four characters set in a shelter. Hamm, his servant Clov, and his parents Nell and Nagg all stay in one room, each with their own weaknesses, causing them to be dependent on one another. Sat., Oct. 19, 8 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 23, 8 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 24, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Oct. 25, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 26, 8 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 27, 2 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 3, 2 & 7 p.m.; Fri., Nov. 8, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 9, 2 & 8 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 17, 2 & 7 p.m.; Fri., Nov. 22, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 23, 2 & 8 p.m. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, 626-356-3100,

Evita: A stunning new production of Tim Rice and Andrew Llyod Webber's award-winning musical, directed by Michael Grandage and choreographed by Rob Ashford. Eva Perón used her beauty and charisma to rise from the slums of Argentina to the presidential mansion as First Lady. Adored by the Argentinian people as a champion for the poor, she became one of the most powerful women in the world — while her greed, outsized ambition and fragile health made her one of the most tragic. Wed., Oct. 23, 8 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 24, 8 p.m.; Fri., Oct. 25, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 26, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 27, 1 & 6:30 p.m.; Tue., Oct. 29, 8 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 30, 8 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 31, 8 p.m.; Fri., Nov. 1, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 2, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 3, 1 & 6:30 p.m.; Tue., Nov. 5, 8 p.m.; Wed., Nov. 6, 8 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 7, 8 p.m.; Fri., Nov. 8, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 9, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 10, 1 & 6:30 p.m. Pantages Theater, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 800-982-2787,

Fall Shorts: An evening of 11 new ten-minute comedies. Written by Steve Korbar, Bette Smith, Lina Gallegos, Maureen A. Martin, Raegan Payne, Barbara Lindsay, Pedro Antonio Garcia, Rhea MacCallum, and Daniel Guyton. Featuring 20 actors and a rapid-fire pace. Tuesdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 12. Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, 818-990-2324,

Fallen Angels: Julia and Jane are the best of friends and are each happily married. But before they tied the knot, they each had a brief, torrid affair with Maurice, a charming, handsome Frenchman. While their husbands are away for a day of golf, guess who's back in town and requesting the ladies' company? A sophisticated comedy, written by Noël Coward, directed by Art Manke. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 20, 7 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 24, 2 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 31, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 3. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, 949-497-2787,

Falling: Exploring the dynamic and complicated reality of a family with an autistic 18 year-old, this play poses difficult questions about loving someone who is hard to love. The Martins try to lead a normal life, but when a relative comes to visit, the entire family is thrown out of equilibrium. Written by Deanna Jent. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Dec. 1. Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 855-585-5185,

GO: Flowers for Algernon: Daniel Keyes' now classic sci-fi story about a mentally challenged man whose IQ skyrockets after a surgical procedure tackles not only how we treat disabled individuals but how ephemeral are those intangible values — love, life, respect — that we cherish. Directed by Matthew McCray, Deaf West Theatre's signed and spoken production of David Rogers' stage adaptation is a mixed bag, its awkward staging offset by Daniel Durant's charismatic lead performance as Charlie, along with the capable work of several others in the cast. Though never quite persuasive as a towering intellect, Durant's overwhelming likability in every scene compels attention. Especially effective are his lovely interchanges with Hillary Baack, exuding her own unpretentious charm as his teacher and vulnerable love interest. The production's weaknesses have to do with the side-by-side placement of signing and speaking performers, a cluttering visual distraction that detracts from the drama. Also confusing is having some performers sign for one character while taking on the role of another, a choice that emanates from the paring of the original 30-person ensemble to 12. McCray's staging of flashbacks behind a scrim adds resonant texture to the narrative, as do lighting designer Jeremy Pivnick's blue, green and gray changes in the backdrop's hue. (Deborah Klugman). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 3, $30. Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, 818-990-2324,

Goldilocks and The Three Bears: A musical version of the classic tale, performed for children and families by Storybook Theatre. Saturdays, 1 p.m. Continues through Feb. 22. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. W., Los Angeles, 323-851-7977,

The Great Gatsby: Simon Levy's stage adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel, directed by Suzanne Hunt Jenner. Set in the glamorous and decadent Jazz Age, Gatsby seeks to be reunited with his lost love, Daisy, leading him from poverty to wealth and eventually to tragedy. Fri., Oct. 18, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 19, 2 & 8 p.m. Pasadena City College, 1570 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626-585-7123,

GO: Groundlings Online University: See Stage feature: Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 & 10 p.m. The Groundlings Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 323-934-9700,

Hamlet: An all-female production of Hamlet — why?! The gender-bending (and multicultural) casting permits this motley cast of women to tackle the tragedy's meaty classic roles but adds nothing to the production. Rather, it distracts and detracts. Lisa Wolpe and Natsuko Ohama co-direct and star (as Hamlet and Polonius, respectively) in a lively rendition that gallops toward its (implied) bloody finale. Yet this tragedy could have used a firmer hand on the reins. Some perfs are good, others woeful. Emphatic gestures and shouted delivery, as well as the random sound design, rob the text of its subtleties, making this Hamlet for Dummies. Wolpe's interpretation of the gloomy Dane is bitter, sarcastic, playful and energetic as she roughs up both Ophelia and Gertrude in tempestuous scenes. Unfortunately, Wolpe also sometimes rushes her delivery of the scintillating text. Ophelia (Chastity Dotson) is excellent in her descent from confusion into insanity, while the majestic set of faux stone, with its trapdoor for the grave scene, is superb, including its upstairs realm for the lumbering, un-wraithlike ghost of Old King Hamlet (Elizabeth Swain). The swordplay is excellent; the rest is — silence. (Pauline Adamek). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 24, 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-477-2055,

The Homosexuals: A funny and heartwarming play that explores various friendships through the lens of sexual tension. On his first night in a Mid-western city, Evan meets a circle of men who become his closest friends and potential lovers. Written by Philip Dawkins, directed by Michael Matthews. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Dec. 1. Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Los Angeles, 323-644-1929,

GO: Humor Abuse: As the title indicates, Humor Abuse is no lighthearted evening of sidesplitting laughs. Demonstrating elaborate pratfalls, juggling and elegant comedy bits, Lorenzo Pisoni's solo clown show charts his upbringing as a fourth-generation vaudevillian and performer, focusing mainly on a relationship with his father that was more work than play. Lorenzo took to the stage in his parents' company, the Pickle Family Circus, when he was only 2 years old, honing his clown skills under the tutelage of his father, Larry Pisoni. In recounting their relationship, Lorenzo projects a tone that is bittersweet and melancholy, with an undercurrent of both resentment and deep respect. Frequently subverting our expectations, he engages us throughout his 90-minute confessional show by performing various routines. One is a commedia dell'arte sequence, in which he deftly dons and doffs masks as he leaps in and out of an old steamer trunk. Another is a nail-biting, Chaplinesque routine in which he plays a Sisyphean bellhop struggling to get five pieces of luggage to the top of a staircase. Pisoni's movements are fluid and effortlessly precise and his prodigious skills are a joy to watch, even as his buffoonery is tinged with sadness. Co-creator and director Erica Schmidt has created fine staging, with clever lighting by Ben Stanton and original music and evocative sound design courtesy of Bart Fasbender. (Pauline Adamek). Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 6:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Continues through Nov. 3, $40-$60. Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, 213-628-2772.

In My Corner: The theme of fathers and sons occupies well-trodden ground in the theater, but Joe Orrach's exploration of his relationship with his Puerto Rican father is unique in its presentation. Having been a professional boxer and tap dancer, Mr. Orrach is hardly an average Joe, and he and co-writer Lizbeth Hasse infuse this solo show with elements of his former lives, cleverly employing choreography, a jump rope and a speed bag in the storytelling … not to mention a live jazz trio. Headed by nimble pianist and musical director Matthew Clark, the musicians provide a rich rhythmic and melodic undercurrent to the show, with a sound that's at times reminiscent of another Bay Area jazz virtuoso, Vince Guaraldi. Director Jeremiah Chechik helps Orrach combine the storytelling with the physicality of the show (such as using the speed bag as a dance partner) and, with lighting designer Briana Pattillo, creates some solid visuals onstage (especially the boxing ring). However, this former pugilist doesn't land as many punches as he ought to; despite his fascinating source material, the show meanders between episodes, lacking a strong enough dramatic throughline to build emotional momentum. Also, other than his father's character, none of the rest of Orrach's family is as well developed in the piece. Still, with some reworking, Orrach and Hasse could potentially turn Joe's multifaceted life experience and talents into a knockout of a show. (Mayank Keshaviah). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 3. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-477-2055,

The Interview: Susan Josephs' dystopian play set in the United States at a time when everyone needs to undergo a government interview in order to have children. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27. Studio Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles, 323-463-3900,

Invisible Cities: Historic meets high tech as audiences equipped with the latest wireless headphones wander through L.A.'s iconic Union Station following dancers and musicians in Invisible Cities. Described as an “invisible opera”, the libretto and music by Christopher Cerrone were inspired by a novel by Italo Calvino. Choreographer Danielle Agami and L.A. Dance Project dancers contribute their talents to this innovative twist on the site specific performance. Starting Oct. 19, Saturdays, 7:30 & 10 p.m.; Thursdays, 7:30 & 10 p.m.; Tuesdays, 7:30 & 10 p.m.; Fri., Nov. 8, 7:30 & 10 p.m. Continues through Nov. 5, $25. Union Station, 800 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles, 213-683-6897.

Ise Lyfe: Pistols & Prayers: A spoken word hip-hop theater piece, written and performed by artist and educator Ise Lyfe of HBO's Def Poetry Jam. The production is a sociopolitical commentary, blended with a glimpse into Lyfe's coming of age as a man, artist, and advocate for social change. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 27. Greenway Court Theater, 544 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, 323-655-7679,

It's The Biz: A new comedy about the workaday reality of show business from the perspective of two talent agents. Written by Michael Grossman, directed by Paul Fredrix. Starting Oct. 19, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Nov. 24. Promenade Playhouse, 1404 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, 310-656-8070,

Just Imagine: Although the wow factor is missing, aficionados of John Lennon probably will appreciate this tribute to the iconic musician, which juxtaposes renditions of his most famous songs with a narrative of his life. Lennon impersonator and lead singer Tim Piper addresses the audience in a confiding manner as he relates events in Lennon's life — his troubled boyhood in Liverpool culminating in the death of his mother, up through The Beatles, his marriage to Yoko Ono and his transformation into a family man and spokesman for the counterculture antiwar movement. There are no surprises in writer-director Steve Altman's script, and watching and listening to Piper, an American donning a Liverpool accent, failed to persuade me that I was hearing the real McCoy. That said, Piper's backup band, Working Class Hero, performs well and provides an opportunity for those who wish to reimagine the legend to do so. (323) 960-4442, (Deborah Klugman). Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Dec. 29. Hayworth Theatre, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-213-6955,

Kamikaze!: Zombie Joe directs Vanessa Cate in her one-woman theatrical odyssey, conquering her darkest fears, challenges, and limitations with her spirit of truth and triumph. Fridays, Saturdays, 8:30 p.m. Continues through Oct. 30. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-202-4120,

Kin: In Bathsheba Doran's elliptical comedy-drama Kin, the title becomes shorthand for the people we save and those who redeem us. Sean (Grinnell Morris) is a personal trainer and Irish émigré; Anna (Melissa Collins) is a Columbia University adjunct who's just completed her first book, a bone-dry exegesis of Keatsian punctuation. We can see where this is going, but their onstage meet-cute gets postponed; instead we chart the couple's romantic progress via separate encounters with their respective tribes, whose stories are equally compelling. There's Sean's mother, Linda (Rhonda Lord), a boozy agoraphobe since an assault decades ago derailed her life; her brother and Sean's surrogate father, Max (a delightful John Combs); Anna's father (David Hunt Stafford), a retired colonel nursing a broken heart since the death of Anna's mother, or so she believes; and best of all Helena (Elizabeth Lande), a thwarted actress whose quirky humor belies her profound loneliness. Collins offers a rich turn as the layered Anna, who aches for connection even as she pushes others away, but it's Lande who steals the show.Director Jules Aaron's even hand delivers both humor and sensitivity, while Jeff Rack's lovely minimalist, modular set allows actors to dwell onstage, lingering in each other's scenes like emotional subtext. (Jenny Lower). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27. Theatre 40 at the Reuben Cordova Theater, 241 Moreno, Beverly Hills, 310-364-0535,

Kinetic Theory Circus Arts Halloween Extravaganza: Kinetic Theory is both a professional theater company and a circus/theater training program. The current offering is essentially a pair of Halloween-themed student productions. The Invitation is a series of short sketches performed by the Youth Circus Troupe, ages 8-13. Because they're kids, the charm and cuteness factors loom large, but they also demonstrate impressive skills in mime, gymnastics, back flips and rope jumping (one scrappy little guy, portraying a rambunctious kitten, manages to jump rope on all fours). Dracula: A Symphony of Terror features the preprofessional troupe, ages 13-25. More polished and versatile, they present a mimed version of the Dracula tale with all the familiar characters. Jonathan arrives at the spooky castle to be greeted by the sinister count and a corps de ballet of athletic female vampires. As with any school show, every student must have a moment in the spotlight, but the resulting repetition tends to slow down the story. Still, there's some fine work here, including skillful comic touches, along with juggling, diving through hoops, trapeze work, contortionists, gymnastics and aerial silk work. Matinee performances include both shows; the evening version offers only Dracula. (Neal Weaver). Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 2. Kinetic Theory Theatre, 3604 Holdrege Ave., Los Angeles, 310-606-2617,

Kiss Me, Kate: A clever combination of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew and backstage shenanigans during the production of a musical version of the play, with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. Book by Sam and Bella Spewak. A production of the Cabrillo Music Theatre. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 24, 7:30 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27. Fred Kavli Theater, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 805-449-2787,

Lake Anne: Marthe Rachel Gold's lumbering melodrama is a concoction of dramatic setups that never develops into an interesting or credible narrative. Widowed Anne (Laurie O'Brien), a former ballerina, lives with her grown mentally and physically disabled son, Will (Alex Smith), in a house that's been owned by her family for generations. Although it's about to be auctioned off, Anne refuses to sell it when someone makes her a generous direct offer. Meanwhile, Will needs a heart operation that she keeps postponing. (She thinks maybe he's better off dying before she does.) A dalliance with her sister-in-law's son and her dream of resuming her career collapse simultaneously when the man in question returns to his steady girlfriend. Gold's prosaic dialogue and John Frank Levey's lackadaisical direction leave the performers floundering. Act 2 is a bit more compelling, as the play's impending crisis and the loss of her home and lover give O'Brien something solid to work from. NoHo Senior Arts Colony, 10747 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Nov. 9. (Deborah Klugman). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 9. NoHo Senior Arts Colony, 10747 Magnolia Blvd., Los Angeles.

GO: The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later: The original production of The Laramie Project rode on the wave of passion and grief spawned by the murder of Matthew Shepard. The current work, which looks at Laramie and the related issues as they appear 10 years after the fact, is necessarily more contemplative and thoughtful, but it builds up its own brand of steam. Predictably, opinions of Laramie, Wyo., citizens were all over the place. Some felt that Matthew had been forgotten too quickly, while others felt that his story had become a millstone around the town's neck, fostered by the media. But largely due to a 20/20 broadcast, which ignored the trial evidence and claimed that the murder was not a hate crime but just a drug-infused robbery gone wrong, a softer, less upsetting, revisionist view has been adopted by many local citizens. The script, richly based on actual words of those involved, including murderer Aaron McKinney (Michael Hanson, alternating with Dylan Seaton), and Shepard's mother, Judy (Elizabeth Herron), is acted with passion by 10 wonderfully gifted actors, accompanied by folk singer Johanna Chase. Director Ken Sawyer demonstrates that, although the documentary approach is not sensational, it's nevertheless gripping, effective and deeply affecting. (Neal Weaver). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Nov. 16. Davidson Valentini Theatre, 1125 N. McCadden Place, Los Angeles, 323-860-7300,

The Liar: David Ives' adaption of Pierre Corneille's 1644 French romantic comedy of the same title. When the charming and handsome pathological liar Dorante enters Paris, he impresses everyone who hears his stories. But as his lies multiply, Dorante struggles to keep his lies straight and get the girl he desires. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Dec. 1. The Antaeus Company and Antaeus Academy, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood.

The Light Bulb: A stylized farce about eight marketing executives who must create the campaign for the first-ever light bulb that will not burn out. Written by Joshua Ravetch, directed by James J. Mellon. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Nov. 9. NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-763-0086,

The Lion in Winter: A comedic drama that takes place in King Henry II of England's castle at Chinon, France at Christmastime, 1183. King Henry has three surviving sons by his estranged wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine: Richard (The Lionheart), Geoffrey and John. Henry wants the kingdom to stay united after his death, but all three sons want to rule and it is likely to be torn apart by revolution. Written by James Goldman, directed by Michael Cooper. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Continues through Nov. 16. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, 626-355-4318,

Liquid Love: A musical revue of love songs with established singers, including Lucy Walsh (daughter of The Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh), Chad Doreck, and Gloria Gifford. Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 9. T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo St., North Hollywood, 818-205-1680.

Little Shop of Horrors: A comedy-horror rock opera based on the 1960 movie. Book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, music by Alan Menken. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 19. Westchester Playhouse, 8301 Hindry Ave., Los Angeles, 310-645-5156,

The Long Way Home: Reflections on the Tracers Journey: A look back at the conception, creation, and theatrical journey of the landmark Vietnam play Tracers, utilizing poetry, projections, storytelling, and live music. Written by John DiFusco, directed by John Perrin Flynn. Presented by Rogue Machine Theater Company and USVAA. Thursdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Nov. 7. USVAA: United States Veterans' Artists Alliance, 10858 Culver Blvd., Culver City, 310-559-2116,

Lost Girls: Idiosyncratic characters, colorful language and clever one-liners don't always make a dramedy click. John Pollono's latest play is set in working-class New England and revolves around a divorced single mom, Maggie (Jennifer Pollono), who wakes one snowy morning to discover her car and teenage daughter, Erica (Anna Theoni DiGiovanni), missing. A call to law enforcement triggers a visit from Maggie's ex, Lou (Joshua Bitton), a state trooper. Accompanying him is his attractive second wife, Penny (Kirsten Kollender), whose presence fuels an already flammable mix of past resentments, not only between Lou and Maggie but between Maggie and her malcontent mom, Linda (Peggy Dunne). Director John Perrin Flynn has a skilled ensemble, but their talents don't coalesce into a believable narrative. The main problem is the plot's awkward contrivances. The production is often entertaining, but the many loose ends suggest it's been rushed to production prematurely. (Deborah Klugman). Saturdays, 5 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Mon., Oct. 28, 8 p.m.; Mon., Nov. 4, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 4. Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 855-585-5185,

Lovecraft: Nightmare Suite: Six strange tales of monsters, mayhem, and cosmic horrors brought to life through a combination of storytelling, puppetry, and shadow play. All text is taken directly from the short fiction, essays, and poetry of the godfather of modern horror, H.P. Lovecraft. Conceived and directed by Dan Spurgeon.

Tickets & info: 323-871-1150 or Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Nov. 3. Lex Theatre, 6760 Lexington Ave., Los Angeles, 323-871-1150.

Love's Labour's Lost: William Shakespeare's tale of three noble companions who take an oath to devote themselves to three years of study, promising not to give in to the company of women. Directed by Ted Barton, presented by Coeurage Theatre Company. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Nov. 10. Second Stage Theater, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.

Macbeth: The classic Shakespearean drama, directed by Alex Levy. The Savage Players theater company presents an austere staging that encompasses the audience, creating an intimate, intense experience in which audience members become part of the world of Macbeth. Starting Oct. 19, Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. Live Arts Los Angeles, 4210 Panamint St., Los Angeles,

Marilyn … MADNESS & Me: Playwright Frank V. Furino is hardly the first to see in Marilyn Monroe's celebrated trajectory of driving ambition and self-destructive insecurity something more darkly emblematic of the decade that marked her demise. And for a while, Furino's Forrest Gump-like fantasy (directed by Joe Leonardo) about a good-natured garage mechanic (Adam Meyer) and his rabbit hole-like friendship with the star (a poignantly convincing Alison Janes) during her final two years seems like an ironic and offbeat tour of some of the 1960s' cataclysmic headlines. While it would be a spoiler to give away more than what amounts to the play's paraphrase of the Denis Leary quip, “the Kennedys — good leaders but bad dates,” suffice it to say that Furino is an ardent believer in the Marilyn mythos. As such, he unfortunately fails to see that rather than the tear-jerking tragedy he thinks it is, his story is the stuff of mordant black comedy. (Bill Raden). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Oct. 20. El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-508-4200,

Measure for Measure: An Indian Boarding School Comedy: A staged reading of this new Shakespeare adaptation by Randy Reinholz, part of Native Voice's “First Look” series. In Reinholz's adaptation, love, righteousness, faith and mercy compete for provenance on the frontier when an Indian boarding school, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and local town and saloon inhabitants collide over the fate of a young teenage boy unjustly sentenced to death. A chat with the playwright and director, Chris Anthony, follows the free reading. Thu., Oct. 24, 7:30 p.m. Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, 323-667-2000,

Moskva: Written by the LA Weekly's own Steven Leigh Morris, this comic, macabre fantasy is based on the Russian novel The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. On a hot spring afternoon, the Devil and his entourage, trailing fire and chaos in their wake, emerge from the shadows of the underworld and weave themselves into the absurd and brutal realities of contemporary Moscow. Contains nudity. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Continues through Dec. 15. City Garage at Bergamot Station Arts Center, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, 310-453-9939,

My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish, and I'm in Therapy!: Written by Steve Solomon, directed by Andy Rogow. Solomon's 90-minute comedy, inspired by his family and all the people in his life whose sole purpose was to drive him into therapy. One part lasagna, one part kreplach, and two parts Prozac. Wednesdays-Sundays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27. Janet & Ray Scherr Forum Theatre, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 805-449-2700,

GO: The Normal Heart: When the AIDS plague emerged in 1981, writer-activist Larry Kramer was devastated to learn that the larger society wasn't remotely concerned that gay men were dying by the thousands, and the gay community was refusing to admit its own responsibility. He set out to call the world to account, and tell unpopular truths to power. Driven by his own passionate concern, he launched ham-fisted attacks in all directions, making himself hated and resented. But in his semi-autobiographical play The Normal Heart, he is considerably defter, capturing the absurdity as well as the courage of his surrogate, Ned Weeks (Tim Cummings), and making his story a chronicle of the times. He reminds us of how terrifying AIDS was when nobody knew what it was, how it was spread or how to avoid it. Director Simon Levy has mounted a deeply moving production at the Fountain Theatre, bathed in the compassion without which it would be merely a horror story, and performed by a deeply committed ensemble. Cummings captures the desperation of a man who cares so much he's incapable of tact or coherence, and Bill Brochtrup ably renders the charm and ultimate disintegration of his lover, Felix. Lisa Pelikan, Matt Gottlieb, Fred Koehler, Verton R. Banks and the rest of the cast provide terrific support. (Neal Weaver). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Thursdays, 8 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 14, 8 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 21, 8 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 5, 8 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 12, 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 24. Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles, 323-663-1525,

GO: The Old Settler: John Henry Redwood's bittersweet romantic comedy The Old Settler is set in 1943 Harlem in the comfy home (a handsome set by Thomas Brown) of middle-aged sisters Elizabeth (Ruby Hinds) and Quilly (Jolie Oliver). Elizabeth is dignified and restrained, while her sister is outspoken and nit-picky. These church-going ladies are often like oil and water, but there's an unmistakable sisterly love and devotion that underpins the acrimony. Their bond is tested when Elizabeth decides to take in as a renter the handsome, ultra-countrified Husband Witherspoon (John R. Davidson). He's come up from the South looking for his sweetheart, Lou Bessie (played with sass and attitude by Crystal Garrett), who is only interested in a good time and the man's money. It isn't long before Husband and Elizabeth are tenderly eyeing one another. The story of a May-December romance is an old one, but it receives a charming and inventive treatment by Redwood, and also offers a sobering glimpse into the pre-civil rights-era African-American experience. The outcome is predictable, but this doesn't detract from what is a thoroughly enjoyable production with emotionally vibrant performances under the direction of William Stanford Davis. (Lovell Estell III). Sundays, 3 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27. Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-204-4440,

Oy!: The story of two German Jewish sisters, Selma and Jenny, who in 1995 return to their home in Paris after a trip to the German city of their youth and try to investigate the swirl of emotions, opinions and memories that surfaced during their trip. This play questions forgiveness, the work of memory, and the state of modern racism in the world. Written by Hélène Cixous, directed by Georges Bigot. Thursdays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Oct. 20. Actors' Gang at the Ivy Substation Theater, 9070 Venice Blvd., Culver City, 310-838-4264,

GO: The Player King: The name John Wilkes Booth isn't likely to be forgotten, but many are unaware that the infamous assassin was part of an accomplished family of actors. In this solo show, Darin Dahms brings the Booth clan to life. Drawing on historical and biographical material, Dahms constructs what is mostly a commanding portrait of the Booths. It touches on the drunken, tormented theatrical genius of patriarch Junius Brutus; his problematic, strained relationship with second son Edwin — who at age 13 traveled with his father as a caretaker — and the dissolute, and fatefully disillusioned, John, whose final performance in the theater was his most memorable. One of the more gripping segments of the show, and the most dynamically scripted, tells of the day of Lincoln's assassination, and the dark, chaotic aftermath. Dahms is a talented, engaging performer, and he's at his best when channeling these characters or delivering one of many splendid soliloquies from the Bard's more famous works (King Lear, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet). His performance more than offsets a script that tends to flit about and needs greater coherency and context. (Lovell Estell III). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 2. The Met Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Los Angeles, 323-957-1152,

Play/Time: Six writers will each write a new short play for a group of actors every week for six weeks. Each week features different plays so every show will be different. When all is said and done, Theatre Unleashed will have written and produced 36 new works. Part of the Late Night series. Saturdays, 10 p.m. Continues through Nov. 9. Crown City Theatre, 11031 Camarillo St., North Hollywood, 818-605-5685,

The Poe Show: It's Edgar Allen Poe as a late night talk show host, with Ed Goodman writing a new 45-minute show every week. Fri., Oct. 18, 11 p.m. Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Drive, Los Angeles, 310-281-8337,

Presidential Suite: A night in Las Vegas with eight of America's greatest presidents competing in a pageant that will determine which among them is the “Most Valuable President” in United States history. Book by Matthew Hoffman & William Norrett, music and lyrics by David P. Johnson. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27. Whitmore-Lindley Theatre Center, 11006 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-761-0704.

R II: A new production of Shakespeare's Richard II, conceived, adapted and directed by Jessica Kubzansky to be bare and raw, performed by only three actors. See Stage feature: Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27. Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena, 626-683-6883,

GO: The Rainmaker: A con-man/drifter walks into a small town, usually in the Midwest, and seduces a vulnerable local female. He not only seduces her, he awakens her to her true self and potential, which the opinions of others — her family and society — have been suffocating. Oh, brother. Get the broom and sweep off the cobwebs. In lesser hands than director Jack Heller's, watching The Rainmaker would be like trudging through a slightly dank, primeval marsh without rubber boots — the kind of experience where you might say, “Well, isn't this historic and curious. Where can I dry my socks?” The production is saved in part by its linchpin, Tanna Frederick's droll, rat-smart Lizzie. With subtlety and composure that often belies the text, she knows who she is and what she wants. Though the play is over-written, Frederick's performance lies so entrenched beneath the lines, it's as though she absorbs the play's excesses so that they don't even show. Her terrific performance is not enough to turn the play into a classic, but it does provide enough of an emotional pull to reveal the reasons why it keeps getting staged. (Steven Leigh Morris). Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica, 310-399-3666,

the road weeps, the well runs dry: Surviving centuries of slavery, revolts, and The Trail of Tears, a community of self-proclaimed Freedmen creates the first all-black U.S. town in Wewoka, Oklahoma. The Freedmen (Black Seminoles and people of mixed origins) are rocked when the new religion and the old way come head to head and their former enslavers arrive to return them to the chains of bondage. Written by Marcus Gardley, directed by Shirley Jo Finney. Saturdays, Sundays, 3 p.m.; Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles,

Romeo and Juliet: The good intentions of the appealing, youthful ensemble of this production of Shakespeare's great tragedy of young love and death are tragically outdone by the technical requirements of the Bard's language. With a minimal set consisting of a few slabs and an arch, director Tony Cronin's straightforward, modern-dress production achieves a level of workmanlike competence that slips into sloppiness toward the end, with clumsy blocking and line readings that suggest a lack of psychological analysis on the textual level. The piece's under-rehearsed feel is evident in a number of boisterous but cliched arm-waving acting turns, awkward chemistry and blustery performances. The pacing is crisp, though, hinting interestingly at the unstated idea that the characters' true tragic flaw is not rage but impatience. Moments provided by Zachary Kanner's sweetly nerdy Romeo are winning, as is Julia McIlvaine's unusually glacial and prim nurse — a turn that's against the usual casting type. Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica; Sept. 27 & 28, Oct. 6, 17, 19 & 25, 8 p.m.; Sept. 29, Oct. 11, 13 & 27, 2 p.m. (310) 458-8634, (Paul Birchall). Sat., Oct. 19, 8 p.m.; Fri., Oct. 25, 8 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 27, 2 p.m. Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-458-8634,

Rumination: Written by Amir Khalighi and set in 13th century Persia, this play is a spiritual and physical journey into the heart of prolific poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhī, better known as “Rumi.” Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-202-4120,

Sheet Cake Sliding: Playwright Stacia Saint Owens' black comedy about the travails of an unhappy family crackles with ferocious energy and malice. However, in spite of director Nicholas Newell's commendably crisp staging, the work is undermined by its scattershot, intentionally disjointed structure and a ham-fisted quirkiness. Pompous greeting-card executive and dad John Jones (Trever H. Olsen) considers that he's the embodiment of the American dream, but he's a rigid authoritarian at home, fond of browbeating his family — and his borderline abusive behavior has reduced his wife to a grinning cipher and turned his kids into damaged basket cases. Although the acrimony between father and family is fairly straightforward, the story is told in fragments, inexplicably narrated by a pair of talking Dalmatians, and anchored by the presentation of a large number of cakes, which symbolize an undercurrent of family rot or something. Performances are sprightly, particularly Jennifer Flack as John's dead-inside, Barbie-like wife, but the work's overall shrillness becomes increasingly irritating and off-putting. (Paul Birchall). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 19. Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-856-8611,

Silent Witnesses: Written and performed by Stephanie Satie. Decades after World War II, a group of women who survived the Holocaust as children meet in a group moderated by a therapist and begin to tell their stories for the first time. Based on true events. Directed by Anita Khanzadian. Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27. Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, 818-990-2324,

Something to Crow About: The Bob Baker Marionettes' musical “Day on the Farm.” Saturdays, Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays, 10:30 a.m. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. First St., Los Angeles, 213-250-9995,

Stories About the Old Days: Bill Harris' drama-comedy, directed by William Arrigon, about a poor black couple in Detroit struggling to overcome the nightmares of the past with hope and humor during the summer of 1970. Saturdays, 2 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Oct. 27. Lonny Chapman Group Repertory Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-700-4878,

A Strange Disappearance of Bees: Written by Elena Hartwell, this show takes the audience through a honeycomb of relationship and revelations as five characters (a Beekeeper, a baker, a Vietnam Vet, a farmer and a stranger to town) search for identity while bees disappear around them. A production of the Collaborative Artists Ensemble. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. Raven Playhouse, 5233 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-720-2009,

Sunny Afternoon: Fifty years after the assassination of JFK, this story examines the mysteriously unrecorded 48 hours Lee Harvey Oswald was in the custody of Police Captain William Fritz, before the assassin himself was murdered. Written and directed by Christian Levatino. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Dec. 1. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-962-1632,

The Sunshine Boys: Taxi stars Danny DeVito and Judd Hirsch reunite to perform as two reuniting vaudevillians in Neil Simon's 1972 classic comedy. See Stage feature: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 6:30 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 24, 2 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 27, 1 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 31, 2 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 3, 1 p.m. Continues through Oct. 20. Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, 213-628-2772,

Tango Argentino: The History that Nobody Told You: A theater performance, with tango dancing, about the history of tango and one man's journey to become a great dancer. Created by Monica Orozco. Fri., Oct. 18, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 19, 8 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 20, 3 p.m. Bilingual Foundation of Arts, 421 N. Ave. 19, Los Angeles, 323-225-4044,

Theatre of Terror Haunted House: Enter the world of deranged director Maxwell Wyczeck, who was believed to have burned to death in a fire he started at the theater in October 1963. Fifty years later, residents of South Pasadena have been haunted by strange flyers, hinting that the director has returned to the city for one final killer production. Sat., Oct. 19, 6:30-11 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 24, 6:30-11 p.m.; Fri., Oct. 25, 6:30-11 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 26, 6:30-11 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 31, 6:30-11 p.m.; Fri., Nov. 1, 6:30-11 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 2, 6:30-11 p.m. Fremont Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena, 626-441-5977,

This Clement World: A new theatrical music work by writer, composer, and theater artist Cynthia Hopkins. This piece poetically and urgently speaks to the earth's rapidly changing climate using humor and artistry. Thu., Oct. 24, 8:30 p.m.; Fri., Oct. 25, 8:30 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 26, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 27, 7 p.m. REDCAT: Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, 631 W. Second St., Los Angeles, 213-237-2800,

GO:Tracers: In the 1980s, author-director John DiFusco, along with a group of other veterans of the Vietnam War, conceived and executed the play Tracers, channeling their military experiences into what would become one of the most important dramas written about the war. Thirty years on, war is still hell — and DiFusco and a new ensemble, all veterans of more recent wars and military actions, have reprised the work in a powerful new production that's every bit as harrowing as the original. In part that's because the original show's therapeutic underpinnings are downplayed in favor of a more dynamic depiction of what war is actually like on a human level. Tracers centers on the experiences of a group of archetypal soldiers who progress from enlistment to cannon fodder. The actor-veteran cast's military experiences flavor the production in often subtle ways, from the articulated terror of mustering in boot camp, to the crisp and chillingly authentic sequences in which plodding patrols erupt into blood-soaked violence. Particularly compelling turns in DiFusco's vital production are offered by Trevor Scott's likable Everyman soldier Dinky Dau, Jaimyon Parker's world-weary army medic, and Christopher DeVinny's nicely conflicted Professor. (Paul Birchall). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 9. USVAA: United States Veterans' Artists Alliance, 10858 Culver Blvd., Culver City, 310-559-2116,

Trust: For the debut offering at their new home, the former itinerants of Theatre Unleashed have adapted Steven Dietz's apt drama about relational instability among creative 20-somethings. Despite committed performances, the matrix of unlikely friendships doesn't always gel into credible pairings. Rolling Stone cover boy Cody's (Michael Galante) engagement to pre-fame fiancee Becca (Michelle Hasson) hits the skids when he seeks out Leah (Leah Verrill), a tough-as-nails musician chewed up by the industry a decade before. Becca confides in bridal designer Gretchen (Liesl Jackson) as kleptomaniac public radio DJ Roy (Anthony Rutowicz) tries to woo Holly (Fernanda Vazquez), a callow heartbreaker with a smile like a knife. Galante and Verrill are especially good as the sultry rockers, but Becca's bisexual conversion feels driven solely by dramatic convenience, while Hasson and Jackson's tepid chemistry dampens the romantic tension. Director Scott Marden and Jackson have softened Gretchen's alternative edge, while Hasson struggles to navigate Becca's exasperating vagaries. (818) 849-4039, (Jenny Lower). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 9, (818) 849-4039, The Belfry Stage, Upstairs at the Crown, 11031 Camarillo St., North Hollywood.

Twelfth Night: Shakespeare's beloved tale of cross-dressing disguise, directed by Alex Burkart. Presented by the Los Angeles New Court Theatre. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through Oct. 20. Flight Theater at The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-465-0383,

Tylerr Pery Superstar: Jeremy Evans' and Brandon Kirks' one-act satirical comedy about Tylerr Perry and his stop-at-nothing approach to winning an Oscar. Fridays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 22. Promenade Playhouse, 1404 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, 310-656-8070,

Uncle Vanya: Golden Globe-winner Stacy Keach, Grace Gummer (HBO's The Newsroom), and Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother) head the cast of David Mamet's adaptation of Anton Chekhov's masterpiece. On the crumbling estate of a retired professor and his beautiful young wife, a tangled web of desire emerges to consume various friends and family members who have sought refuge there. Fri., Oct. 18, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 19, 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 20, 4 p.m. James Bridges Theater, 1409 Melnitz Hall, Westwood, 310-206-8365.

Urban Death: Tour of Terror Haunted Theater Attraction: An interactive haunted Halloween theatrical attraction, steering theater-goers through a terrifying “Urban Death” maze of inexplicable horrors and disturbed spirits. Directed by Zombie Joe and Jana Wimer. Fridays, Saturdays, 8:30, 9:15, 10, 10:45 & 11:30 p.m. Continues through Nov. 2. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 818-202-4120,

A View From the Bridge: Many consider Arthur Miller's dramas moral tragedies, but you also can think of them as mysteries, as their narratives contain events whose true meaning only becomes clear at the end. Longshoreman Eddie (Vince Melocchi) is a salt-of-the-earth type who thinks he's doing a good deed when he lets a pair of his wife's distant cousins, both illegal immigrants from the old country, move in with his family. He soon has reason to rue this decision, though, as his lovely niece, Catherine (Lisa Cirincione), falls in love with the more handsome of the two cousins, Rodolpho (Jeff Lorch) — and Eddie is destroyed by his own inexplicably over-the-top jealousy. This is a mostly powerful, admirably straightforward production by co-directors Marilyn Fox and Dana Jackson, which stumbles slightly during the clumsy, frenetically staged final sequence. The production is anchored by Melocchi's nicely gruff Eddie, whose turn suggests a character swept along by passions he lacks the articulacy to express. (Paul Birchall). Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Oct. 20. Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice, 310-822-8392,

Wait Until Dark: A new stage adaptation of the classic thriller about the contents of Susan and Sam Hendrix' apartment. Written by Frederick Knott, adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles, 310-208-5454,

We Got Lucky: Allen C. Gardner's new play about a Southern California bromance that becomes strained during life's changes. Fridays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 3. Working Stage Theater, 1516 N. Gardner St., Los Angeles, 323-521-8600,

The Weir: A spooky play of supernatural tales, expertly told by country folk in an Irish pub setting. Written by Conor McPherson. Fri., Oct. 18, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 19, 8 p.m. Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre St., San Pedro, 310-512-6030,

What Kind of God?: A life spent immersed in Catholic school and culture erupts into crippling disillusionment for 17-year-old Aaron (Brett Donaldson) when he can no longer deny his homosexuality. Unable to cope, and wracked with doubts about the faith and his calling to the priesthood, he turns to his mentor, Father Bart (Robert Keasler), who reveals that he is gay. As it turns out, the loathsome Bishop Michael (playwright Steve Julian) has returned to the parish where ghosts of his past sexual predations lurk, and has picked Father Bart to chair a committee looking into sexual abuse. The resultant events inexorably expose secrets and unravel the lives of those involved. This could have been an engaging drama about a topical subject had Julian gone beyond the superficial. Offered instead is an unwieldy, melodramatic tale about homosexuality in the priesthood, teen sexuality, family bonds and the underbelly of church life and politics, which is neither surprising nor of much interest. Aaron's progressive, shrill meltdown approaches parody after a while, and cast performances are only satisfactory under Aaron Lyons' direction. (Lovell Estell III). Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Oct. 20. Elephant Stages, Lillian Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way, Los Angeles.

When You Wish: The Story of Walt Disney: A musical about the life of Walt Disney, with music and book by Dean McClure. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Nov. 3. UCLA Freud Playhouse, 245 Charles E Young Drive E, Los Angeles, 310-825-2101.

Wild in Wichita: A heartfelt Latino comedy about finding love in the golden years. Sparks fly between an elegant Puerto Rican woman and an irreverent Mexican caballero, who find themselves stuck together as the only Latinos in a nursing home in Wichita, Kansas. Written by Lina Gallegos, directed by Denise Blasor. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through Nov. 3. Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles,

Popovich Comedy Pet Theatre: Halloween Circus: A comedy variety show that features animals rescued from shelters across the country that have been trained and are now part of the show's family. The pets included are trained dogs, cats, mice and even geese. This is an event for pet lovers of all ages. Sun., Oct. 20, 1 & 5 p.m. Wilshire Ebell Theatre, 4401 W. Eighth St., Los Angeles, 323-939-1128,

LA Weekly