Four Picks

Bat Boy the Musical

In homage to the dearly departed Weekly World News (the venerable tabloid rag that ceased publication last month), ArtsWest will present the Seattle premiere of Bat Boy the Musical, which earned raves (including an Outer Critics Circle Award) in an off-Broadway run back in 2001. Like the equally offbeat Urinetown, this musical combines irreverent slapstick with thoughtful social criticism as it tells the story of a vampiric creature found in a cave who just can't help his occasional craving for human blood. The show's camp quotient is covered in songs like "Hold Me, Bat Boy" and "Apology to a Cow," while it also tugs at the heartstrings (maybe a bit too ferociously) with other, more traditional, musical numbers like "A Home for You" and "Three Bedroom House." ArtsWest, which in the past has tackled vanilla musicals like Once Upon a Mattress and High School Musical, is re-establishing its commitment to wacko fare with this show, much to the delight of those of us with a slavering thirst for, mmm...new blood? ArtsWest, 4711 California Ave. S.W., 938-0339, www.artswest.org. Wed., Oct. 3–Sat., Nov. 10.

The Women

Classic American comedies that can stand a revival are a rarity, and ones with great parts for women doubly so. For that reason alone, it'd be worth cheering the upcoming production of Clare Booth Luce's The Women, her classic 1936 play directed by Warner Shook. The men are all offstage in this metropolitan comedy of bad manners, where the meekest of a group of female friends asks for advice on getting her husband back, and learns the deadly if subtle art of womanly warfare. But the real reason to get excited about this production is a Seattle dream team of talented actresses, including Elise Hunt, Suzanne Bouchard, Deb Fialkow, Peggy Gannon, Marianne Owen, and Susanna Wilson. Shook, the former artistic director of Intiman, has a real affection for this sort of material and a deft touch in the sort of swift verbal comedy that makes this show work. And the prospect of watching this amazing collection of female artists tear up the stage, and each other, over the course of an evening makes one (well, OK, makes me) cackle with malicious delight. ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., 292-7676, www.acttheatre.org. Fri., Oct. 5–Sun., Nov. 11.

800 Words: The Transmigration of Philip K. Dick

Dick went far beyond the realms of both his genre and his sanity in works that transformed his psychotic episodes into worlds of paranoia and technological panic. This new play by Victoria Stewart imagines the last few days in the life of this unlikely seer, who died in 1985 just as Blade Runner (inspired by one of his works of science fiction) was about to premiere. It's a new venture into science fiction for Live Girls!, which has produced original work by women for years and has developed a smart, low-budget style that substitutes clever for expensive. This West Coast premiere promises some sharp writing and carefully controlled psychosis, as one of the weirder minds to ever set pen to paper is explored. Live Girls!, 2220 N.W. Market St., 683-6983, www.livegirlstheater.org. Fri., Oct. 19–Sat., Nov. 17.

The Life of Galileo

In 1947 Bertolt Brecht, Germany's greatest playwright and an avowed socialist, found himself in Hollywood, working with the great British actor Charles Laughton. It was one of the more bizarre, yet somehow fruitful, artistic collaborations of the 20th century, resulting in the first production of Brecht's Galileo. It's not clear that Laughton completely understood Brecht's political subtext, but he sure knew a good part when he saw it. The title character is a marvelous combination of scientific hero and selfish jerk—immoral, sly, and at times downright unsympathetic. None of his shortcomings are necessarily portrayed as failings, not least because Brecht himself was such a self-centered survivor. (Months after the production opened, the playwright was summoned to the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he gave one day of testimony and then fled the country.) Director Rosa Joshi believes that the heroic insistence on scientific truth makes the play resonant to current politics. Joshi calls it "the awakening of doubt as a powerful force. Galileo's ideas have the potential to make the average person question authority." Tim Hyland, who'll be Joshi's Galileo, is an actor with both a brawling physical presence and loads of smarts, and the company has proved adept at producing epic theater on a modest budget. Strawberry Theatre Workshop, 901 12th Ave., 427-5207, www.strawshop.org. Thurs., Oct. 25–Sun., Nov. 18.

 
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