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Present Laughter "I'm always acting, watching myself go by," emotes protagonist Garry Essendine, played by the incomparable Joel Sandel in this semiautographical play by Noël Coward, to anyone who crosses his path. Today, that would include his dewy morning-after lover, whose name he can't remember (Morgan McCarthy), his blasé maid (Sheryl Croix), his astringent secretary (Terri Branda Carter), his sensible former wife (Kara Greenberg), his harried business associates (David Harlan and David Wald), his worldly butler (Harlan again), the panther-like, seductive Joanna (Sara Gaston) and a mad playwright wannabe who lives to worship him (Nicholas Collins). And that's just during the morning. Staring into a mirror and watching his hair recede, Garry wails dramatically that he's not experiencing life and is weary of being adored. But we wouldn't have him any other way. In satin dressing gown with cocktail cemented firmly in hand, he spouts Coward's archly artificial, yet highly musical, dialogue. Garry doesn't want to be free of fame's trappings — it's mother's milk to him, if poured in a highball. Though not as well-known as Coward classics Design for Living and Private Lives, this immensely droll comedy is equally witty, well crafted and entertaining. This stylish Art Deco piece is caviar for the well-heeled cast at Main Street Theater. From top down — including costumes, lighting, set and crisp direction by Claire Hart-Palumbo — everything is pitch-perfect, led by the outstanding Sandel, who lounges, pouts and poses while he laps up his fawning press and basks gloriously in his own klieg light. Through June 22. 2540 Times Blvd., 713-524-6706. — DLG

The Splasher In May of 2007, New York Magazine reported that "In the fall, some anonymous figure started vandalizing the city's most celebrated vandalism." The culprit was throwing house paint on some pretty fancy street art that would have gone for thousands had it hung in a gallery instead of being wheat-pasted onto a building. As it was, this "Splasher" was committing the crime of graffiti on what was, in actuality, graffiti. Troy Schulze's brand-new work The Splasher from The Catastrophic Theatre explores the strange and layered rhetoric of the arguments on both sides of the Splasher situation. The Marxist arguments of the Splasher, who pasted his manifestos against street art with a glue containing "shards of glass," considered his acts as Marxist statements against a bourgeois elite — he argued that the street art was nothing more than free advertising for commodified art. Even worse, it signaled the impending gentrification of a neighborhood. The artists who get graffittied, including Shepard Fairey (played with gleeful haughtiness by Walt Zipprian), argue that they are just looking for the 21st-century patron. They don't get supported by kings or the church; instead, it's the bourgeois elite who feed today's artists. Both sides are presented with humor and intelligence. Schulze sculpted his play from dialogue he wrote, layered with bits lifted from interviews and The Splasher's "Manifesto." Woven into all these fractured ideas is funky '70s-TV-like video. Schulze himself is a bit like the Splasher – he corrupts the original to make a powerful, must-see, brand-new statement. Through June 14. DiverseWorks, 1117 E. Freeway, 713-223-8346. — LW

Capsule reviews by D.L.Groover, Marene Gustin and Lee Williams

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