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opening this week

Festival Primavera
Supposedly the first Portland play to be performed entirely in Spanish, Festival is the story of a businessman who contemplates murder in exchange for guaranteed professional success. The Miracle Theater, 525 SE Stark Street, 236-7253, Opens Fri, runs Thurs 7:30, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Apr 20, $13

Man and Superman
The prolific socialist George Bernard Shaw wrote a lot of crap in his day, but there are a few diamonds in the rough, including this satire about a radical philosopher trying to keep his focus in the face of romantic love. Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 274-6588, Opens Fri, runs Tues-Wed, Sun 7 pm, Thurs noon, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through April 13, $12-47

one week only

FluXconcert PDX
It's hard to pin down exactly what the Fluxus movement from the 1960s really is. Liminal describes it as "the concrete world presented as nonproductive events and objects." Flux chairman George Maciunas described it as "not a high form of art, but rather 'good, inventive gags.'" As presented by Liminal, the FluXconcert appears to be a series of short solo performances inspired by objects that will also be up for sale. Liminal Space, 403 NW 5th, 890-2993, 8:30 pm, $5

A Sense of Wonder
A play depicting the life of Rachel Carson, an environmentalist who died of breast cancer, an ironic side-effect of the pesticides she spent her life exposing the dangers of to the American public. Rachel's Friends Breast Cancer Coalition, at Lincoln Hall, PSU, 1620 SW Park, 226-7870, Fri 7:30 pm, $10

Forty Years in the Desert: A Bar Mitzvah Tale
Rob Freedman pulls out the acne make-up and tightens the ol' vocal chords for this one-man show about a 13-year-old's quest to find meaning at his Bar Mitzvah. Dreams Well Studio, 2857 SE Stark Street, 241-9198, Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through Apr 6, $10

The View From Here
A new staging of last year's physical comedy-fest from Dell'Arte studs Michael O'Neill and Heather Pearl. Unless it's changed drastically, it should be a visually titillating hodgepodge of various clown tricks. Vanity Productions, at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 239-5919, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Mar 15, $10

current runs

Freedomland
Dysfunctional stories of Eastern seaboard denizens are a genre unto themselves, and Amy Freed's Freedomland, about three variously deranged adult children coming to terms with their messed up parents, is a textbook example. As produced by Theatre Vertigo, this is straight up, regular theater that provokes the responses one would expect from a semi-poignant, dark familial comedy. Melody Bridges does well as Polly, an engaging, overweight daughter who can't secure a date or an ending to her doctoral thesis on female Greek warriors. Ben Plont also commands the audience's attention as Polly's freedom-loving, explosive-tinkering brother, Seth. The cast in general does its best with a canned script, but by nature the writing calls for melodramatic outbursts and cliched dramatic conventions. AS Theatre Vertigo at the Russell Street Theater, 2512 SE Gladstone, 306-0870, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through Apr 6, $15

Happy Days
The last full-length play Samuel Beckett published in his life, Happy Days is an alternately hilarious and terrifying character study of a woman trapped in... something. Her life? Her relationship? Hard to say, but she's buried up to her waist in a completely unexplained mound of dirt, a fantastic symbolic device. As the doggedly cheerful Winnie, Gretchen Corbett reveals a deep well of repression, anxiety, and growing hopelessness and terror with exquisite grace and subtlety. When her screams come they are well-earned, and horrible to hear. Tim True, as usual, does well as Winnie's elusive life mate, Willie, and the mound of dirt is bleak-looking enough to darn near steal the show. This is a stellar production of a play not produced enough. You'd be foolish to miss it. JWS The Haven Project, at the Back Door Theatre, 4321 SE Hawthorne, 872-9635, Thurs 7 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 4 pm, through April 13, $15

comedy/improv

Generic Hospital
A revival of this popular show involving recurring characters who improvise new episodes of a hospital soap opera every week. Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through April 12, $10

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