Upstart Crow

A new theater collective takes flight with an all-female King John. Plus: Mary Sheldon Scott/Jarrad Powell Performance.

King John

The newly formed fringe troupe, Upstart Crow, takes its moniker from a 1592 quote by Robert Greene denigrating then-actor William Shakespeare for daring to take on the profession of writer. Founding members Betsy Schwartz, Kate Wisniewski, and Rosa Joshi are unlikely to receive such scorn. Joining Seattle's abundance of female talent for classical repertory with the contemporary relevance of King John results in a more perfect union. Like Girl Fight, the 2000 film that showed female boxers holding their own in the ring, the cast of King John has medieval England and France going head-to-head. Joshi's production is a knockout, getting a lot of bang for the buck: minimal sets, women simply clad in business suits, and battle scenes suggested through sound effects. Amy Thone (pictured) is a marvelous King John, her cadences and gestures fully conveying the usurper king's complexities. Although Upstart Crow has been planning King John since the 2004 elections, their production is not intended as commentary on present-day politics. Nevertheless, the topicality of the bard's work will likely resonate even with viewers unaccustomed to Shakespearian speech. What can Seattle expect next from these clearly talented upstarts? Though specific future productions are still unannounced, members plan on reclaiming theatrical history (men telling stories about men, largely) by concentrating on the classics. Upstart Crow at Capitol Hill Arts Center, 1621 12th Ave., 800-838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $15. 7:30 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. Ends Sun. June 4. SUZANNE BEAL

Mary Sheldon Scott/Jarrad Powell Performance

Choreographer Scott and composer Powell have been working together for years on a repertory that digs deep into natural forces and mysterious powers. They've revived last autumn's Ashes/Ashes, with its paired references to death and children's games, and are taking it to New York City and the prestigious Dance Theater Workshop. The work is elegant and eerie, and the dancers match that intensity, in a performance that can twist your gut as well as your mind. They need to rehearse before they take off (and perhaps raise a little money too); come wish them bon voyage. Chamber Theater, 915 E. Pine St., 4th floor, 206-760-2555, www.mssjpp.org. Pay what you can. 1:30 p.m. Sat. May 27. SANDRA KURTZ

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