It seems like longtime local actor Marty Mukhalian was born to play the title role in Babs the Dodo. The play is a gently surreal, melancholy new comedy about a host on a home-shopping TV network, Babs Gillespie. She has an almost supernaturally sweet disposition, but as she turns 50, the panic and loneliness she's held at bay threaten to overwhelm her. Mukhalian maintains that emotional tension (sweet/terrified) through the crazy, compelling story involving an ornithologist, a magic vegetable peeler, and the entertainingly bizarre coworkers at the ShopMore network. (Washington Ensemble Theatre, 608 19th Ave E, 800-838-3006, 7:30 pm, $25)