OPENING THIS WEEK
Catch as Catch Can (JAW)
For the first time since her mind-warping play You For Me For You rocked Portland Playhouse, Mia Chung's unconventional family storytelling will be on a Portland stage. This time, she's tackling middle-class suburbia instead of North Korea and Communism. Two tight-knit families are rocked with unexpected drama when one son moves back home. Typical story, but knowing this playwright, expect anything but suburban. Gerding Theater at the Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave., pcs.org. 4 pm Saturday, July 30. Free.
The Forcings (JAW)
As the public face of Exxon's operations, Ernie Ledezma helped the company navigate a mysterious scandal involving the disappearance of a group of environmental activists. As he's celebrating with friends and family on the eve of his retirement from the company, the arrival of a stranger triggers a deluge of secrets. Conspiracy, intrigue and a healthy dose of magical realism pervade Kevin Artigue's play, produced over a two-week period in collaboration with local actors and directors as part of the JAW, or Just Add Water. Gerding Theater at the Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave, 503-445-3700. Sunday, July 31 at 4 pm. Free.
JAW: Just Add Water
Portland Center Stage's largest annual extravaganza of new work is a long weekend of readings, sneak peeks at future productions, plays from promising high schoolers (8 pm Friday) and pop-up events in the Armory theater by Powell's. In addition to the five new works chosen from 200 submissions nationwide showing on the main stage (see individual descriptions), the smaller Ellyn Bye theater will host yoga (10:45 am Saturday), a site-specific show from Shaking the Tree Theatre (7:10 pm and 7:40 pm Saturday) and a new dance by Portland's Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre (3:40 pm Sunday) in the Mezzanine. This is a wannabe-theater-subscriber's heaven—all the big names in one place for free—and an elitist-theater-subscriber's hell—riff raff in the Armory. Gerding Theater at the Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave., pcs.org. 8 pm Friday-Sunday, July 29-31. Free.
Lauren Weedman Doesn't Live Here Anymore (JAW)
Santa Monica's Lauren Weedman (I Love the '80s 3-D) is tired of telling us how to feel about Portland. She's moved on to bigger things, like how to make your ass look smaller. Gerding Theater at the Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave., pcs.org. 8 pm Saturday, July 30. Free.
Four year old Lucy has one fucked up imaginary friend. This is no children's show. Instead, Mr. Marmalade is an abusive cocaine addict with a dildo obsession and a porn problem. Adding to the fuckpile, Lucy has one friend, a depressed boy named Larry who's notorious for being the youngest kid to attempt suicide in the history of New Jersey. Twilight Theater might not be known for high-profile works or star power, but you can't argue its stomach for black comedy. No show Thursday, July 28. Twilight Theater Company, 7515 N Brandon Ave., 8 pm Thursday-Saturday, 3 pm Sunday, through Aug. 6. $15.
The Naked Magic Show
The title pretty much sums it up: An R-rated magic show features two "hot and hilarious" Australian performers who prefer to work their magic in the buff. Christopher Wayne, a Queensland radio-comedy writer and host of the children's show More Than Magic, teams up with Mike Tyler, a comedy hypnotist and one of Australia's most successful "clothed" magicians. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, 503-248-4335. 8 pm Wednesday, July 27. $22.25-$79.50.
The Saints (JAW)
After a childhood in the foster care system, the trajectory of a young woman's life is changed by a chance encounter with a pair of young missionaries. Nathan Dame's gritty comedy is produced by local playwrights, actors and directors who collaborated for JAW, or Just Add Water, a two-week project that brings staged readings of new scripts to the public over the course of one "Big Weekend." Gerding Theater at the Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave., 503-445-3700. Noon Saturday, July 30. Free.
The Italian Girl in Algiers
Love triangles—or love pentagons as seen here—are tailor-made for farce. Two people are going to find true love and one sad, sorry buffoon getting left out. It just happens here that the buffoon here happens to be an Algerian leader wearing a tan tracksuit with a pillow tied around his head. Oh, and another corner of the love pentagon spends most of the opera wearing a lampshade. The Italian Girl in Algiers isn't Rossini's best-known work, but it just might be the famed composer's funniest. The Portland Opera's production begins with wide-eyed tourist strolling about the giant Persian rug that serves as the set throughout. Mustafa is bored with his wife. So he does the only logical thing: he offers her as a wife to Italian slave Lindoro and demands that his assistant bring him an Italian woman. As luck would have it, a beautiful Italian woman named Isabella just washed up on the shore. What follows is an energetic, fitfully entertaining farce with more physical comedy than I'd ever expected to see in an opera. JOHN LOCANTHI. Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, 503-248-4335. 7:30 pm July 27, 29 and Aug. 6; 2 pm Sunday, July 31. $35-$200.
With plebeians taking selfies, iPhone videos of Roman general Caius Martius ranting, and a drunk singing Beyonce's "Daddy Lessons" as he stumbles through ancient Antium, Portland Actors Ensemble's outdoor production of Coriolanus draws winking comparisons between Shakespeare's military drama and present-day politics. The Ensemble's pop-culture additions jerk audiences away from the 17th-century world of the play. Even without these nudges, though, it's hard to ignore the resemblance to present day: a commander who can't drum up support from the common people, a rash populace that makes shortsighted choices in the wake of a famine. Even the tenuous peace between Rome and its former rival looks uncomfortably familiar. The tight, two-hour production was beautifully acted, with particularly stellar performances by Ken Yoshikawa as Aufidious and Allison Anderson as Volumnia, but technical issues held it back. Strange acoustics in the Pettygrove Park courtyard, which is located in a noisy pocket of downtown, made much of the dialog inaudible. Any time an actor wasn't facing the audience and half-yelling, it was impossible to hear. It is a testament to Anderson's dynamism and Yoshikawa's booming voice that the production never felt longer than it was. The Shakespearean play is an eerily topical pick for the Ensemble's 12th annual "Twilight Tragedie" summer series. Pettygrove Park, SW 2nd and SW Harrison St., 7 pm Thursday-Saturday, June 30-July 31. Free.
Trickster of Seville
A "family-friendly" interpretation of the famous Spanish play features seven actors taking on the entire range of twenty-plus roles. This precursor to the Don Juan legend details the exploits of a ruthless womanizer who pushes one of his conquests to attempt suicide and essentially rapes another by tricking her into thinking she's having sex with her fiance, so how exactly Masque Alfresco plans to transform it into a family-friendly comedy remains unclear. George Rogers Park Memorial Garden, 611 S Slate Street, Lake Oswego, 503-254-5104. 7 pm Friday-Sunday, through August 7. Free.
Weekend at Bernie's
Not that Bernie. This might the the longest-running summer show in Portland, but the comedic buddy tale won't last until election night. Instead, Portland's top improv talents stage the bumbling tale of two guys trying to convince the world that their boss is not dead. Think Office Space with 1980s Hawaiian shirts, mob bosses and super hot babes, inside Portland's best new comedy venue. After the show, enjoy the fragrant Old Town scene outside. The Siren Theater, 315 NW Davis St., 10 pm Friday-Saturday, June 10-July 30. $16.
Cool Moves, Bro
"Boost your follower count 364 percent," teases Portland contemporary crew 11:Dance Co. Normally, they pop through the aisles at Portland fashion shows or lead dance nights at Fortune downtown. Here, in Adidas track pants or dominatrix lingerie, they pop, writhe and lick pizza slices. In a black box theater, the sexy, young ensemble slithers and breaks, with occasional soloists highlighted by a stark spotlight. From top choreographers like NYC contemporary queen Emma Portner and Northwest Dance Project's Ching Ching Wong, it looks dope, bro. CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh St., 11dance.co. 8 pm Friday-Saturday, 1:30 and 4 pm Sunday, through July 31. $25.