ACT Theatre, 700 Union St, 292-7676. $10-$44. Through Sept 15.

You know when someone starts telling you some dorky joke that you've heard like 2,000 times (and it was never that funny to begin with), but you HAVE to sit there and grin because it's like your boss or the President or somebody telling it, and you realize that you could be doing just about a zillion OTHER things than sitting there listening to the SAME TIRED JOKE for the THOUSANDTH FRICKING TIME and you are BORED and kind of annoyed?

Wintertime. Feel the magic.

God save me from romantic comedies--especially those with a pretentious bug up their butt. In a very pointy-headed preview piece in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, director Brian Kulick effervesces, "Wintertime is... as if a regular romantic comedy had gone to sleep and was dreaming about itself." It gets better. "This winter scene isn't so much about a season as it is the emotional state of the characters... waiting for a thaw and rebirth."

Uh-huh. Wintertime ain't more than a slaphappy farce of nebulous plot, featuring unlovable characters possessing the emotional depth of teaspoons. They're a herd of screaming, obnoxious neurotics that have ZANY ACCENTS (ja, ja!), run around wearing FUNNY UNDERWEAR in the FREEZING SNOW for no good reason (another affected reach at symbolism), and abuse each other psychologically and verbally. They jump to grand, irrational conclusions based upon petty misunderstandings and deceits, melodramatically overreact to these false conclusions, and then behave in a manner no human creature outside of The Jerry Springer Show ever would.

All very disappointing, because ACT put together a terrific cast for this show: Laura Kenny is a bloody hoot as the old Germanic dyke who fell into the lake (remember her from Rose Red?), and Timothy McCuen Piggee makes a delightful flaming queen. The show has amusing moments, and there are some laughs, but wacky underwear, funny accents, and big wet dykes just get laughs. That's no testament to great theater.

by Adrian Ryan