LOBSTER?ALICE Firm turds and vanilla pudding. Matthew E. Durham

Lobster Alice
ArtsWest
Through June 18.

In the world of Salvador Dali, or, at least, the incarnation of Dali currently scandalizing ArtsWest in Lobster Alice, everything is interesting and everything is excrement. Or, wait. Is that nothing is everything and interesting is excrement? Is Alice Alice or is Alice not Alice? If a reviewer is 50 small goblets filled with lukewarm milk and the plump thighs of Napoleon represent being kinda bored, is Lobster Alice interesting? Not really. But it's not excrement, either.

Lobster Alice follows a familiar formula: He's uptight. She's bored. He loves her. He's uptight. She's bored. A stranger comes to town. He turns their world upside down. LITERALLY. Haw haw. In this case, she is Alice, the no-longer-young assistant to Finch, a frantically repressed Disney animator. The stranger is Salvador Dali. The year is 1946. Overall, the play is a sometimes charming and often cartoony hodge-podge of Surrealist non sequiturs, unrequited love, and rather obvious self-realization. There's disillusionment, too. And lobsters.

I liked this play in spite of itself. The philosophy is broad, the performances are tidy but not particularly gripping, and the set is as Dali as you'd expect it to be. It's fun to watch Dali (brought to life with gusto by Gavin D. Cummins) simultaneously torture and delight his vanilla-pudding costars with comments about "firm turds" and proclamations like "shame is a woman with a moustache and a cake on her head," but mostly it just made me wish for the real thing. I yearned to be disturbed or moved or confused, but instead I was just, I don't know, okay with it. LINDY WEST

Epitaph
Seattle Public Theater at the Bathhouse
Through June 12.

I'm glad to see the techniques of sketch comedy incorporated into plays. The dark surrealism and hilariously callous hallmarks of sketch are sorely needed in the theatrical family, which takes too much pride in liberal enlightenment and not enough in anarchist shock.

Epitaph, a two-man show by Adrian Wenner and Ethan Sandler, is about a character we never meet: a stunning woman everyone falls in love with, but who recently died. The story whirls around two male friends (who begin the show at her funeral, sniping over who knew her best) and the bizarre assortment of waiters, doctors, office workers, and other odd characters who adorn Epitaph's gallows-humor world.

Epitaph is funny, but not craaazy funny, except when it ventures into tangential episodes, like How the Quit-Smoking Pill Got Its Name, and the Man Who Follows Every Impulse (who makes his entrance by parachuting through a main character's office window). Still, the show's strength is in the comedy. The rivalry and reconciliation between the main characters is only mildly interesting. I don't mean to damn with faint praise: the show has won awards from HBO and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and is worth seeing, especially as a primer on incorporating sketch madness into more straitlaced theater. BRENDAN KILEY

The Ritz
Open Circle Theater at Re-bar
Through June 25.

June is gay season, and here, to celebrate, is a very shitty gay play set in the gayest of settings-a bathhouse. The central gag (I mean, premise) in this tedious production of Terrance McNally's tedious sex farce, The Ritz, is that a gangster checks into a bathhouse to hide from his hot-headed, gun-wielding brother, although the gangster has no idea what actually goes on inside such places. He thinks it's a place for bathing! Hilarity ensues! At least, hilarity is supposed to ensue. What actually ensues is a convoluted mess of bad dialogue delivered by a cast of floundering actors, none of whom are listening to each other and some of whom shouldn't be wearing as little as they're made to wear. I hate to be mean, but come on. Couldn't someone (a director, maybe?) have taken a good look at the script, cut it in half, rebuilt the show around Andrew Tasakos (the only captivating actor, although there's a case to be made for Rebecca Davis), lost all the labored plot turns in the second act, made the thing a musical instead of a play with some music, and given the promising entre'acte drag performer something to work with? And the audience something to enjoy? Who chose to do this play? Just about every laugh is a pity laugh. This is nightmare theater and the audience knows it. There's a deal where you get four bucks off the price of admission-it's $14 a ticket-if you wear a towel. If you don't go at all, it's even cheaper. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE