Drunk Puppet Nite!

Monkey Wrench Puppet Lab at Re-bar

Through Nov 29. It's not that watching puppets vomit, perform cunnilingus, or milk semen from bulls is inherently tedious; South Park, for example, marries cutesy animation and squalor to witty effect. But in Drunk Puppet Nite!, a handful of puppeteers meticulously create and manipulate their puppets--some of which are wonderfully nuanced--only to apply these puppets to shoddy, clumsy, garishly unfunny scripts. The sense of waste is painful. After a half-dozen sketches lacking even a garnish of wit or cleverness, you never want to watch puppetry again.

There were exceptions: Seanjohn Walsh lusting after apples and Matt Fontaine and Tamara Paris' piece about a yuppie couple accidentally adopting an opossum were both peculiar but watchable. The undersea segment from last year's delightful Frankenocchio was lovely. But only Clay Martin truly rescued the evening. His interpretation of a blues song, followed by a puppet version of a mummy movie (entirely in rhyming couplets!), started things off with great promise. Then, two hours later, when I was on the verge of slitting my wrists, he returned with a fantastic Punch and Judy. Since every night of Drunk Puppet Nite! is different, I don't know if you'll be able to see him, so I cannot recommend this evening of hellish inanity. But damn, Clay Martin is brilliant. BRET FETZER

Over the Moon

Seattle Repertory Theatre

Through Dec 6. Nestled in Over the Moon are a handful of crystalline moments, when a perfectly calibrated turn of phrase gets delivered with either effortless grace or surly aplomb, and you just have to laugh. Those moments are pretty great. There are, maybe, six or seven of them. The rest of this production is about as ham-fisted, overblown, and just plain clumsy as one can imagine. Which is too bad, because those six or seven moments are really pretty great.

Adapted from a lesser-known P. G. Wodehouse novel, Over the Moon combines foolish rich people, dimwitted petty criminals, and a few young, clever, and attractive people who get all silly in love. Playwright Steven Dietz does a decent job adapting Wodehouse's jaunty prose to the stage. The actors are a capable lot (Suzy Hunt and David Pichette, playing the more snide characters with glee, are entertaining throughout). The trouble would seem to be director David Ira Goldstein, who--perhaps concerned that the audience might miss a joke or two--has compelled the cast to play everything BIG and LOUD, so that everyone can tell that it's supposed to be FUNNY. The result, alas, is painful. Too bad; those six or seven moments.... BRET FETZER

Innocent Heat and Derailed Desires

Pulp Vixens at Re-bar

Through Dec 28. Directed by improv comedy master Kevin Kent, Pulp Vixens' Innocent Heat and Derailed Desires are a pair of smart, saucy stories, inspired by the busty bimbos, buxom broads, wayward waifs, and pathetic prose of 1950s lesbian-bent pulp novels (often typified by a lot of very accidentally hilarious writing, usually centered around a highly cautionary "homosexuality leads to complete destruction" moral in which The Gays always seem to end up face down in a gutter or as some two-ton cell-block-mamma's yard-bitch--male or female).

Jennifer Jasper, Shawn Yates, and Mia Levine play three naughty high-school girls, each secretly armed with girl-on-girl hankerings, a penchant for melodrama, and more homosexually oriented vagina-as-food analogies than you can shake no dick at ("tickle that tamale" and so forth). Their lesbionic adventures begin innocently, as they help each other with homework and (whoops!) girlishly grope each other's racks. Their forbidden desires inevitably spin out of control, leading them to the big city, the big house, and, at last, to a big gay ride on a big gay train--the ladies-only Labia Express.

Soon fantasy and reality intermingle in a clever, snappy, fun, and funny montage of Mystery Train meets Melissa Etheridge--somehow making boisterous breast-grabbing seem so fun, I almost wanted to jump up onstage and join in. Almost. ADRIAN RYAN

A Streetcar Named Desire

Theatre Babylon at Union Garage

Through Dec 6. Scoff if you will, but until this weekend I had never seen A Streetcar Named Desire--not even a few seconds while flipping through TV channels. While that makes me a theatrical and cinematic half-wit, my unique ignorance allowed me to watch Theatre Babylon's incarnation with 100 percent fresh eyes.

It was okay.

Director J. D. Lloyd has choreographed the production nicely, but only halfway succeeds in drawing out the contrasts between grit and gentility that give the play its tension and momentum. The ensemble is vigorous, excelling at face-slapping, door-slamming chaos, but can't always plumb the quieter, more nuanced depths convincingly.

This Streetcar's star attraction is the evocative, atmospheric set, a to-scale reproduction of the 1947 original, with its molding wallpaper and clever architecture, allowing the action to move fluidly from upstairs to downstairs to the sidewalk. Cheers to Brad Cook, the theatrical Übermensch who not only produced Streetcar and resurrected the original set, but filled it with his ballsy, loud, borderline-manic Stanley Kowalski.

The world has probably seen more compelling productions of A Streetcar Named Desire, but with adequate performances and a historical set, this version is a fine way to fill any lingering gaps in your education. BRENDAN KILE