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Wortham Theater Center

501 Texas Ave.
Houston, TX 77002

Category: Performing Arts Venues

Region: Downtown/ Midtown

Main Street Theater

4617 Montrose Blvd.
Houston, TX 77006

Category: Performing Arts Venues

Region: Montrose

Queensbury Theatre

12802 Queensbury
Houston, TX 77024

Category: Performing Arts Venues

Region: Outer Loop - NW

The Barn

2201 Preston
Houston, TX 77003

Category: Performing Arts Venues

Region: East End

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Under the Big Dark Sky Not since the head trips of cinemaverick , especially that psilocybin deluxe El Topo, has there been such a rich, incomprehensible, ultimately silly work as John Harvey's world premiere for Mildred's Umbrella Theater Co. See if you can make sense of this: We're at a Victorian carnival whose barker is pasty-faced Mr. Bones (Ricky Welch, stepping in at the very last moment for an ailing actor and doing a very fine job of it) who eagerly displays his sideshow attractions. Among the freaks: the Three Headed Barking Man (James Reed, Norm Dillon, Stephen Foulard), the Woman Who Slices Away Her Skin (Mia Migliaccio), the Little Boy Whose Throat Sprouts Wings (Adam Pecht), the Woman Who Shits Chickens (Julie Oliver). She not only defecates a leg, she lets loose an entire bucket of Kentucky Fried. There's the talking head on a table (Aaron Asher) who spouts the poetry of John Keats. Then there's this terribly dysfunctional family. Dad, called Theresa's Father (Rod Todd), is obviously lost from some bogy Easter pageant. He has a Jesus fixation and keeps corpses in his basement, waiting for the "little green bits of Jesus," His "divine chlorophyll," to either re-animate what remains of them or to bring back the dead body of his son Shem (Adam Pecht of the Little Boy Whose Throat Sprouts Wings, above). Dad killed Shem, or his randy daughter Theresa (Ashley Allison) did. Theresa sleeps with anybody who asks, but she really, really loves John Keats. Of course, Mom (Jennifer Decker) might have smashed in little Shem's head with a rock, too. There's plenty of putrefaction and violence as the twisted tale goes on and on. What works to its advantage is the extraordinarily effective live music played by composer Andy McWilliams -- his simple guitar riffs and phrases run almost non-stop but never intrude and always keep the drama interesting -- and the swirling background projections, like scudding clouds, from set designer Mark Krouskup and lighting designer Kevin Taylor. This allegory is so "deep" and "meaningful," for the life of me I can't figure it out. The family certainly gets a drubbing from Harvey, and the moral might very well be, "Don't neglect your children." Even God's accused of that. But other than that, it's anyone's guess. Through April 30. Barnevelder Movement Arts Complex, 2201 Preston, 832-463-0409. — DLG

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