c.1993 (you never step in the same river twice)

Under the guidance of director Bret Fetzer, using the drug overdose of River Phoenix as its sad springboard, this musical revue covers many other tabloid figures from the early Clinton years. The result is a non-linear series of news bulletins, interviews, AV clips, and especially songs that reanimate the era. As Phoenix, actress Danielle Daggerty skillfully employs Phoenix’s mannerisms, like the constant brushing back of his hair and tendency to look away from his interviewer. The brash foil to Phoenix’s tender-hearted soul is none other than Courtney Love (the luminous Melinda Parks), who commands the stage in fierce red undies while powering through Hole’s “Violet.” Somehow Parks makes Love both vulnerable and tough, reclaiming a multidimensional woman from clownish caricature. But why c. 1993, why now? The answer lies in a common thread that laces together sociology and pop culture. For Fetzer, at least, the early ’90s marked an important chapter in the battle of the sexes. Thus the fierce female rock tunes, ably sung by the cast. If the show has a point, it’s the differing media portrayals of Phoenix, the ’90s martyr who died young and pretty, and Love, who survived the decade and its scandals—but only to endure more scorn and ridicule. c. 1993 suggests how pop mythology favors the dead, not the living. MA’CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR (See Ma’chell’s full review.)

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Mon., Nov. 7. Starts: Oct. 20. Continues through Nov. 19, 2011