Capsule Reviews

The Lion in Winter King Henry II of England has plans for sons Richard, Geoffrey and John. But Henrys long-imprisoned wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, has other ideas about succession to the throne. In James Goldmans talky, sexy two-act drama, the Plantagenets go at each other hammer and tongs on a Christmas Day in the year 1183. Alliances are formed and betrayed so often, Richard Hatch would get confused. In Stage Wests current production, the acting is pretty spectacular. R Bruce Elliott is a leonine Henry. Pam Peadon is his starchy but vulnerable wife. Dana Schultes makes a vavoom mistress as Alais. Best of all are the sons: wowy-zowy Matthew Stephen Tompkins as bisexual Richard; the slithery Lee Trull as Geoffrey; and an almost show-stealing performance by the young Ross Neuenfeldt as Prince John (the one who later signed the Magna Carta). If only the technical aspects matched the talent. Set, lighting and sound are an insult to the actors. Through March 28 at the Scott Theatre, 1300 Gendy St., Fort Worth. 817-784-9378. Reviewed this week.

No Sex Please, Were British Back in the 1970s, this was one raunchy little sex comedy. Now its barely high camp. Newlyweds yearn for privacy as their apartment is invaded by a mother-in-law, a boss, a male secretary, a bank examiner, a policeman, two hookers and a wayward shipment of porn. In Theatre Britains production, the accents are perfect, but the pacing needs some punch. Still, they manage to keep slamming doors, dropping their trousers and running up and down stairs for the better part of two hours, all in the name of British comedy. Any episode of Fawlty Towers is a clue to the Brits attitudes toward slap and tickle 30 years ago. Nice comic turns here by actors Terry McCracken, Mark Waltz and Kevin M. Connolly, who all understand that a farce needs forceful forward motion to keep it snappy. The costumes by Ryan Matthieu Smith are really groovy, baby. Through April 4 at the Trinity River Arts Center, 2600 N. Stemmons Freeway, Suite 180. 972-490-4202. Reviewed this week.

WASP The debut of the Bootstraps Comedy Theatre offers a Steve Martin one-act and a half-hour of vintage vaudeville sketches. The curtain-raiser is Ricardo Ricardo and the Green Card Gang, sketch stuff that only reminds us why vaudeville died. It should stay that way. The Martin play is harder to define. Is it spoofing 50s family sitcoms the way Pleasantville did? Or is Martin going all New Yorker smarty-pants and trying to pose deeper questions in his satire about the meaning of life and love? Mom (Amy Rosenthal) wears pearls and heels and has the dog put to sleep for jumping on the furniture (does that explain Grandmas absence, too?). Dad (Jeremy Whiteker) wears an argyle sweater and horn rims and refuses to hug his son. Son (Brian Witkowicz) talks on a wrist radio to a space creature in a silver Mylar jumpsuit. Sis (Jennifer Youle) announces shes heading over to choir molestation. In the one-hour play, each character gets a monologue. Dinner table scenes bookend the action. And maybe thats God (Kim Lyle) in the coffee-brown power suit. Or maybe not. Through March 28 at the Robyn Flatt Studio Theater, Rosewood Center for Family Arts, 5938 Skillman. 214-236-4838.

Forever Plaid This melodic and nostalgic musical tells the story of the Plaids, a 1950s quartet of crooners who, on their way to their first big concert, are killed in a bus wreck. From the afterlife, the Plaids perform one last concert, including jukebox hits Three Coins in the Fountain, No, Not Much, Moments to Remember, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, Jamaica Farewell and more. The jokes are corny, the acting broad, but the music is heavenly. One very fast and funny sequence re-creates memorable moments from an Ed Sullivan show, including jugglers, plate-spinners and Senor Wences. Starring Mark Frie, Jon-Paul Burkhart, Cody Bowen and Jimmy Nelson. Through April 11 at ArtCentre Theatre, 1028 15th Place, Plano. 972-422-7460.

Lone Star/Laundry and Bourbon In two one-acts with six related characters, the gossip and heartbreaking secrets of small-town Texas life are explored in get-down funny vignettes. In the first play, three frowsy gals (Marisa Diotalevi, Sue Loncar, Lyn Montgomery) fold clothes and get rip-roaring drunk on the back porch. The second play looks at the men in their lives, chugging beer behind the local roadhouse. This half is the winner, with fine performances by Mark Nutter and Todd Terry as brothers hashing out a lifetime of pain over booze and Baby Ruth bars. The set by Randel Wright is so magical it gets its own round of applause. Through April 10 at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, 5601 Sears St. 214-828-0094. Reviewed March 18.

Shanghai Moon Many of Charles Buschs cinema-inspired comedies arrive with the female lead played by a man in drag. No need for that in Pocket Sandwichs production starring Trista Wyly, a tigress so fierce shes drag queen enough for any stage. Sending up the 30s-era murder mysteries set in the exotic Orient, the play follows the exploits of Lady Sylvia Allington (Wyly), wife of a snooty British ambassador (Mark Stoddard), as she visits the opium-hazed palace of sexy General Gong Fei (Michael Javier). Like those old movie dames Barbara Stanwyck, Jean Harlow and Mae West, Wylys Lady Sylvia does a broad (and funny) send-up of the trashy, hard-nippled heroines who sexed up flicks before the censors of the Hollywood Production Code took over. Brandi Riggs is gorgeous and conniving as Gong Feis scowling concubine, Mah Li. Through March 27 at Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 Mockingbird Lane, Suite 119. 214-821-1860. Reviewed February 26.