Performance Picks

FAR AWAY

Playwright Caryl Churchill's short piece opens in a moment of apparently banal innocence, with young Joan (Elena Kazanjian, right) coming downstairs from bed in the middle of the night to complain about some noise outside in the dark. Her Aunt Harper (Mary Ewald, left) uneasily tells her that it was only a sort of party. "If it was a party," Joan wants to know, "why was there so much blood?" Joan soon grows up, and Churchill's fanged absurdism quietly uncoils into a pitch-black comic consideration of the perils of willful ignorance. It would be perilous, too, to overrate director John Kazanjian's modest productionthat would squash its compact forcebut the 50-minute show out in New City's obscure little space feels more resonant than any two hours you'll spend in some other venue. Catch it in its extended run. New City Warehouse, 2110 Airport Way S., 206-271-4430. $12. 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Ends Sat. Dec. 13. STEVE WIECKING

NUTCRACKER

It's the 20th anniversary of Pacific Northwest Ballet's ebullient production. Snagging renowned children's author and illustrator Maurice Sendak was a canny move for the company, leading to a feature film and considerable attention from the dance world and beyond, but the ballet itself has aged remarkably well. Choreographer Kent Stowell takes a couple of detours from the standard plotplacing Clara, the young heroine, on the edge of womanhoodbut it's still a work about children, and their particular view of the adult world. McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., 206-292-ARTS. $16-$125. Opens Fri. Nov. 28. Times and dates vary. Ends Sun. Dec. 28. SANDRA KURTZ

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