Capsule Reviews

The Dead Monkey That says it all. Nick Darke's two-act drama arrives as dead as King Kong's hairy corpse. Hank and Dolores (Wm. Paul Williams, Tina Parker) watch their 15-year marriage unravel after the death of their beloved chimp, a son substitute that's supposed to remind us of the invisible child in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? But Hank and Dolores are no George and Martha. When they scream and curse and slug each other, it's just ugly and mean. The play is anti-marriage, anti-woman, anti-American, even anti-monkey. The acting is as rotten as an old banana peel. Nothing here is funny, inspiring or artistic. It's just noise masquerading as drama. Not a page of this stinking script is fit to wipe Albee's glasses. Through March 12 at Kitchen Dog Theater, The MAC, 3120 McKinney Ave., 214-953-1055. (Elaine Liner)

A Man of No Importance Turns out he's a man of great importance, to his friends and family anyway. Middle-aged bachelor Alfie Byrne (the wonderful Chamblee Ferguson) is a Dublin bus conductor by day and a theatrical impresario by night. He lives for the little troupe of amateurs he directs in the church basement. They perform plays by Alfie's idol, Oscar Wilde, but when Alfie attempts Salome, he comes up against strong resistance from church officials and his own prissy spinster sister (Pam Peadon). With music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and a book by Terrence McNally, this show explores the redemptive quality of artistic expression, a fancy way of saying that art has a way of making us better people. It certainly helps Alfie and his friends. And the lovely Irish-themed music, honest performances and gentle humor of this Uptown Players production will fill your heart with joy. Through March 6 at Trinity River Arts Center, 2600 Stemmons Freeway at Motor Street, 214-219-2718. (E.L.)

Going to St. Ives In Lee Blessing's two-hander, onstage now in its local premiere, a British eye doctor (Elizabeth Rothan) goes eye to eye and toe ·· toe with the imperious mother (Eleanor T. Threatt) of a brutal dictator. Each asks the other for a favor. Each favor, if granted, could result in major shifts in geo-politics. Yes, this little play has big ambitions that aren't completely fulfilled in Theatre Three's production, directed by Pam Myers-Morgan. The performances seem rushed. The plot seems a bit too contrived. And at the end, not quite enough has happened to make us feel much of anything. Still, Ms. Threatt offers some memorable moments as the mother willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her nation. Let's hope this fine actress, a Jubilee Theatre regular, will spend more time on other stages this side of the Trinity River. Through March 5 at Theatre Three, 2800 Routh St., Suite 168, in The Quadrangle, 214-871-3300. Reviewed February 10. (E.L.)