The School for Scandal

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The Prom, playing May 31st-June 19th at The 5th Avenue Theatre
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Seattle Shakespeare Company at Center House Theatre Through July 1.

Everyone knows that I'd rather eat "the shit" than talk it, but with gossipy characters called things like Madame Backbite and Miss Nelly Persnicketybitch (I made that last one up), one might imagine that the playwright (who was a womanizing drunk and died broke after a stint in politics, so they say) had mastered the art of simplicity. But, no. Five thousand people are all secretly in love or lust or hate and lying to everybody else about everything. Else. Whatever. I am almost confused, and I majored in this shit.

But everyone dresses fabulously. Even for 1777. Except for Lady Sneerwell, who merely looks insane. (And Charles is WAY too young for her.) Who dresses this woman? A Cornish College dropout?

Speaking of that: Charles (MJ Sieber). It's a pity he doesn't appear until the second act, because he's an awesome whoring drunk, and I SWEAR he looks just like Brendan Fraser, which is funny because Brendan and MJ both went to Cornish, and did you hear that Brendan Fraser has a restraining order against me? Well. Rumors. Dennis Kleinsmith gossips and fops delightfully as gossi-foppy Crabtree, and you know Dennis also stars in that new Tori Spelling horror movie, Cthulhu, but I don't think Tori will come to the June 14 or 17 SIFF screenings since she just birthed that baby and owns a bed-and- breakfast now. She'll be breastfeeding and folding sheets or something.

Anyway, I think it is total crap how easily Lady Teazle (Betsy Schwartz) gets off the hook. (Although the hosebag knows how to dress.) Sure, lurking behind your husband's dear friend's dressing screen is tame by modern snorting-and-aborting scandal standards, but she's still a conniving slut. I'd have pushed her into traffic. Of course, there wasn't much traffic circa 1777, but still. I really liked this show. ADRIAN RYAN

Killer Prom at Murder High

Blood Squad at Odd Duck Studio

Through June 30.

Blood Squad begins each performance by requesting a teen slasher movie title from the crowd, which is bar-tapped and jovial (shows begin at 10:30 p.m.). They toss around ideas: Revenge of the Teenage Mutant Pussy-Claw, Night Zombie: The Crime-Fighting Zombie, and Sister Act IV: Freddy vs. Jason.

The night I catch Blood Squad, they're performing Blood Drive at Transylvania High. The show is a tightly delivered improvised teen horror flick stuffed with genre clichés: new family in town; mysterious high-school deaths; the absent principal, Mr. Black; late-night detentions; and a high body count.

Harder to convey is the impressive ease with which the Squad's three performers—Michael White, Elicia Wickstead, and Brandon Felker—transition between characters while playing off each other's quick dialogue, comedic timing, and near-flawless physical humor.

The performances are simple: no intermissions, costumes, or props besides three folding chairs. Blood Squad functions without blood. Everything is left to the audience's (vivid, sometimes drunk) imagination. Special effects are pantomimed and/or narrated as quick asides: "She tucked her disemboweled, uh, bowels back into a marsupial-like skin pouch..." A vampire father-son battle—the climax of the show—is set on the vertical façade of the high school and executed through aggressive crab scuttling and hissing on the floor (it works better than I could possibly describe). Someone loses a face. A teenager wails. The audience laughs. The man to my right remarks that Blood Squad has captured the naked essence of teen slasher flicks, even without the gore.

"What is that?" I ask. He says: "It's fun watching teenagers die." CIENNA MADRID

Daughters of Catastrophe

Mae West Fest at Theatre Off Jackson

Through June 30.

Taking its cue from contemporary hysteria and old Greek tragedy, Daughters of Catastrophe features three tales of American women in the throes of middle age who flail about and make the worst of it.

The first act is grisly and confusing. Ella enters ranting and covered in blood, while an old man in a pink bathrobe lolls in a bathtub upstage. The old man, also bloody, turns out to be her CEO father, and also turns out to be dead, although Ella carries on a conversation with him while picking scabby makeup off his face. They discuss sunny familial topics like Ella's brother's matricide before the corpse-father demands that Ella fetch a cup to catch his semen for his mistress. After a little more chitchat, Ella slits his throat, burying her face in his twice-dead neck, saying "Daddy, it's warm now."

The second act gives us Paula, a narcissistic Seattle housewife. Vassar-educated, idle, and ramped up on antidepressants, Paula might've teetered on the edge of sufferability, but playwright S. P. Miskowski also makes her a bad, aspiring poet.

Based on Medea, the third and best act presents Madeline, a movie star à la Demi Moore, who makes the mistake of marrying a fickle, ambitious, younger actor. Madeline, too, meets an unfun end, a departure from the classic. Greek mythology and Euripides have Medea marrying the king of Athens and raising another son after she murders her first three (and a few other people). She gets a second chance, which is more than these energetic naïfs can dream of. Though spiked with sharp, funny dialogue, a hilarious birthing scene, and full male nudity, the play seems unnecessarily cruel to its female protagonists, who are histrionic, shallow, or inchoate, and bear society's burdens with just enough self-awareness to make their lives miserable. ANNA MARIA HONG

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