Capsule Reviews

King Ubu The Festival of Independent Theatres runs one more weekend. Try to see this one, a smart and politically relevant update of Ubu Roi by the Second Thought Theatre company. Steven Walters, one of the area's finest young leading men, teams with Allison Tolman, the most interesting young actress to hit town in years. They wrote and star in this absurd comedy about a greedy king who starts a pointless war just to have something to do. Working on a dollar-store budget, the large troupe employs pool toys, hula hoops and fuzzy bath mats in ways that impress and delight the audience. One minute they're playing a human chess game, the next they're fighting with sabers on horseback. But it's all done in the silly style of a children's play gone terribly wrong. Through August 6 at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive at Northcliff. 214-528-5576. Reviewed this week. (Elaine Liner)

Southern Baptist Sissies "All my boyfriends have looked a lot like Elvis or Jesus or a combination of the two," says Mark, one of four title characters in this Del Shores tragicomedy. "All my boyfriends have been in agony or pain--or a combination of the two." The play tells the touching stories of four young gay men, products of a religious upbringing that said homos go to hell. It's an arduous journey to self-acceptance that only two of them navigate successfully. But by the end we've learned to love them all and to understand the effect that self-hatred wreaks upon the soul. Uptown Players has assembled a cast of handsome, sensitive young actors, particularly Carter Hudson as Mark and Emerson Collins as the cross-dressing Benny. Both give full-out heartbreaking performances. As do Terry Vandivort and Molly Moloney as a couple of sodden barflies who trade life stories over cocktails. Director Bruce R. Coleman lets the melodrama slow the pacing a little, but all is forgiven in the triumphant moments of redemption and hope at the end. Powerful stuff. Through August 21 at Trinity River Arts Center, 2600 Stemmons Freeway at Motor Street, 214-219-2718. Reviewed this week. (E.L.)

Cabaret The Kander and Ebb musical about the demimonde of sexy singers, writers and hangers-on at Berlin's Kit Kat Club in the 1930s doesn't quite come together in WaterTower Theatre's production. If only the performers were as good as the gloomy, subterranean set by Michael Sullivan. Instead, we get a female Emcee, Ashley Puckett Gonzales, in a too-skimpy S&M costume that shows off more soft white rolls than a German bakery. The star chanteuse, Sally Bowles, gets all the good numbers--"Mein Herr," "Maybe This Time"--but actress Jennifer Green, a good singer, doesn't play the melancholy and ennui of their lyrics. The leading man, Clint Carter, is so bland he blends right into the scenery. Too bad. The long-running Broadway revival of this 40-year-old show proved there's still an audience for Cabaret. Well, maybe next time. Through August 14 at WaterTower Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison, 972-450-6232. Reviewed July 28. (E.L.)

Pico de Gallo: The Return of the Queen Chula Cholula (Oscar Contreras) is back. Oak Cliff's most glamorous drag diva hosts an evening of new vignettes about love and marriage, while she readies herself for her own spectacular nuptials. The young Martice Enterprises acting troupe loves to pepper their topical comedy material with observations about racial, cultural and sexual issues. In a sketch about a black woman who won't let her Latino boyfriend see their baby, they lay it out there. When the mom (Rhianna Mack) unreels a long string of insults at the man (J. R. Ramirez), he doesn't understand her slang. "That's ebonics, bitch," she tells him. "You ain't the only one that speaks a foreign language." Ooh, sister, that's harsh. But really funny. The ensemble manages to overcome the lousy acoustics at the Latino Cultural Center, and they fill the stage with boundless energy. The second act gels better than the first, but the evening still stands as the brightest burst of comedy on any stage this summer. Through August 13 at the Latino Cultural Center, 2600 Live Oak St., 214-750-7435. Reviewed July 28. (E.L.)

Metamorphoses Mary Zimmerman's witty, episodic script revisits Ovid's ancient myths about Orpheus, King Midas, Halcyon, Pandora's box and many more. The stories are millennia old, but the production is as sexy and bold as an HBO series. The theater's in-the-round acting space has been covered with a triple-depth swimming pool into which actors, clothed and un, wade, swim, fight, float and flail. (Ticketholders on the front row are provided towels to dry off the excess splashes.) The staggeringly attractive cast--younger by decades than this theater's usual roster of near-retirees--tell the mythical tales with a lyrical touch. The best moments come from Jeffrey Schmidt as a regretful Midas (he of the golden touch, you know) and Dana Schultes as Myrrha, a doomed goddess involved in an incestuous affair. Through August 13 at Theatre Three, 2800 Routh St., Suite 168. 214-871-3300. (E.L.)

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