Capsule Reviews

Noises Off Airborne sardines are a pretty good reason to see just about anything, and Noises Off at Addison's WaterTower Theatre is no exception. In addition to multitudes of flying fish, audiences can expect an attractive young actress in lingerie for much of the play, snappy dialogue and attempted murder with a potted cactus. Skillfully directed by James Paul Lemons, Noises Off follows a highly dysfunctional small British theater troupe as it does its damnedest to rehearse and perform the farce Nothing On. Sordid love affairs and nervous breakdowns abound. Phenomenal physical comedy (including a two-story stair tumble) will have theater-goers struggling to decide which is funnier: the action onstage or Michael Frayne's superb script. Picking a cast favorite will also be a challenge, though the stand-out performances by J. Brent Alford and Renee Krapff are hard to beat. Spend intermission reading the hilarious bios in the program. Continues through August 15 at the WaterTower Theatre in Addison, 15650 Addison Road, 972-450-6232. (Andrea Grimes)

Return to Girdleville With Men in BVD's (a brief sequel) There's definitely something funny about men prancing around in boxer shorts and lip-synching, but Return to Girdleville at Fort Worth's outdoor Hip Pocket Theatre somehow misses the boat. A full 45 minutes of classic show tunes and actors of various sizes awkwardly bumping and grinding in their skivvies should be a lot funnier. The choreography begins to get repetitive after the first four or five songs, and most audience members chuckled only once in a while as the premise of the show began to wear down. To their credit, the actors do a good job in this burlesque-style performance (because of a literal lack of plot, it surely can't fall into the "play" category), and they exude real confidence despite near-nakedness. Still, Girdleville has quality moments and is bizarre in the best kind of way. Barbecue is served before and after performances at Hip Pocket's prairie-like locale. Tip: Leave the expensive low-riding sports car at home, because the parking lot isn't paved. Continues through August 8 at the Hip Pocket Theatre in Fort Worth, 1950 Silver Creek Road, 817-246-9775. (A.G.)

Festival of Independent Theatres This festival at the Bath House Cultural Center showcases the talents of local theater troupes without permanent homes. Staging their works in rotating repertory style, FIT treats patrons to two or three short plays per sitting as well as the opportunity to get romantic on the shores of White Rock Lake during intermissions. Beardsley Living Theatre's fit-for-the-King production of Ellen Byron's Graceland features Rootie (Samantha Chancellor), a young, nave and slightly trashy Louisianan who competes with Bev (Brenda Galgan), a middle-aged Elvis devotee, for the first place in line at the 1982 opening of Elvis' famed residence. The two women eventually bond over deviant husbands and coconut Sno-balls. Chancellor's Rootie is heartfelt, and Galgan's Bev is dynamic and hilarious. Even non-Elvis fans will appreciate it. Also showing is Boaz Unlocked Production's Ties , an exploration of the fine line between fantasy and reality. Writer/director Rebecca Finley bravely approaches troubling issues though audio and visual media and live performance. Ties follows childhood friends Ben (Stephen Tickner) and Meg (Rebecca Pense) through pains they encounter as they grow from (seemingly) carefree elementary schoolers into post-collegiate lovers. Awkward moment: Meg reveals a history of sexual abuse, and the stark announcement creates a good 10 seconds of seat shifting. Audience members may end up feeling like uninvited voyeurs, not a good feeling--and, all in all, not a good play. In For the Love of an Anesthesiologist , Texas-born writer and director Brad McEntire achieves, nay, creates new levels of hilarity in a Tarantino-meets-Twilight Zone effort from Audacity Productions. Alfred (Jeff Swearingen), an occasionally spastic man on the run, searches for meaning, an anesthesiologist (Maura Murphy) and his way out of an eerie island bar. Joining him are a transgendered cocktail waitress (Julie Reinagel), a man in a trench coat (Kenneth Fulenwider, who steals the show) and a pirate-like Parisian ex-lover (Trista Wyly). For reviews of other plays in FIT, see this week's Stage column. FIT runs through August 7 at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive on White Rock Lake. The plays reviewed above repeat at various times; see the Web site for scheduling: www.bathhousecultural.com/fit2004.html. 214-670-8749. (A.G.)

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