Clitoris Celebration

Northwest Actors Studio

Through April 26.Dog is to cat as penis is to ____? Despite claims to the contrary by Eve Ensler, the answer should be clitoris. At least that's what writer/actress Sia Amma claims in her one-woman performance, Clitoris Celebration.

Caught uncomfortably between a standup comedy routine, a public health lecture, and a homily, Amma's show addresses the still-practiced ritual of genital mutilation (referred to in polite circles as "female circumcision"). To the show's credit, the topic is handled with far fewer cringe-inducing moments than one might expect. A disarming and likable performer, Amma makes more than a few keen analogies involving America's obsession with body image. In particular, her comments contrasting the highly publicized maiming of John Wayne Bobbitt with the all but silent disfigurement of African and Indonesian women (130 million, by her estimate) are well observed. Given the weightiness of the topic, the Liberian-born actress steers clear of the obvious and expected polemics. Unfortunately, she also steers clear of a well-crafted story or skillful performance.

It is always difficult to a criticize a show when it tackles an important social issue, but a compelling cause and a compelling life story do not always add up to a compelling night of theater. Sloppy non sequiturs, redundant observations, and crude theatrics make for an amateurish production. As worthy as her subject may be, the show lacks a coherent through-line and seems awfully light on facts. Only during the spirited Q and A that followed the performance did we learn anything of real substance. In a nutshell: Clitoris Celebration is in very bad need of an editor and a director.

Toward the end of the show, Amma finally relates the circumstances of her own genital mutilation at nine years of age. It is a harrowing and vivid story, the first truly evocative moment of the evening. Regrettably, it comes far too late. JEFF MEYERS

Money & Run Episode 4: Go Straight, No Chaser

Theater Schmeater

Through April 26.Late-night theater serial Money & Run is like the best of punk bands--sometimes brilliant, sometimes sloppy, and always a good time.

The home-fried brainchild of local comedy whiz Wayne Rawley, the action series follows the adventures of Money and her boyfriend Run, Cudrup County's answer to Bonnie and Clyde. The drawling duo rob liquor stores owned by despicable plutocrat Big Momma Bob and weave through a maze of endearing local loons.

In the fourth episode (Go Straight, No Chaser), our beloved antiheroes are forced to abandon crime, pay rent, and hold down jobs to avoid incarceration and save a Catholic orphanage. A devilish prosecutor, a boozy hobo defense attorney, hard-rock choreography, shrieking trailer wives, and a mouth-breathing, babe-ogling, hilariously hateable fast-food-restaurant manager contribute to the chaos. There's no reward in fretting over the plot, honey. Just grab a beer, buckle your seatbelt, and enjoy the ride.

Unfortunately, the performance I saw was a little slow on the draw. Actors flubbed lines (which I don't mind) and neglected to improvise their rotten fruit into wine (a dire sin for such typically gutsy late-night fare). I hope I just caught the gang at a saggy show--the script was solid and the inventive action sequences, replete with Matrix-esque "bullet time" slo-mo, were a hoot as usual.

On good nights, Money & Run is one of Seattle's finest theatrical institutions. It tickles the brain, hits below the belt, and wears too much makeup. God bless its weird little heart. BRENDAN KILEY

Theater Not Fit for the White House

New City Theater

Through April 18.I feel silly casting a critical eye on Theater Not Fit for the White House. Although New City Theater politely requests a five-dollar donation, the show (a "political cabaret," you know) is, in theory, free. New City has no screaming pack of season subscribers to please, and nobody is likely to feel ripped off if it sucks.

None of which really matters, as TNFFTWH is not an artistic statement; it is a political statement via art. Your enjoyment or lack thereof is really beside the point. Slick productions with sets and structure and fancy sound and lights that work at least most of the time? Hell no. There's a WAR going on, dammit, and some preaching to the choir needs to be done.

Don't get me wrong--I'm left-winged, myself--but choir-preaching is what this production is about: liberal birds of a left-wing feather flocking together to vent, commune, and assure each other, through a variety of performing arts, that yes, Bush is really that stupid and things are really that scary. It's like a protest march with no marching and an intermission. It's a folk-dancing scream at the injustice of it all.

The show boasts good material--like a scene from Tony Kushner's anti-Iraq-war play Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy. (I'd stand on my elbows and eat roaches for some good Kushner.) Performers with no-nonsense hair and a kicked-back casual earnestness hunker down and dance flamenco. Or perform marvelous Wallace Shawn monologues. Or a Ferlinghetti poem. Or recite antiwar passages from the Tao unsuccessfully. But I got the point, which was the point. And a five-dollar donation is a pittance for an evening with people guaranteed to have voted for anyone but George Bush. Go see it, lefty. ADRIAN RYAN