Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins The life and times of famed Texan journalist Molly Ivins are chronicled in a one-woman show at Main Street Theater, spiced by samples of invective wit aimed at elected officials. Sara Gaston plays Ivins — she looks a lot like Ivins when she was younger, and keeps this persona throughout. Gaston is likable, perhaps more so than Ivins, who relished the role of attack dog. Ivins's life has been organized into a play by the twin sisters Margaret and Allison Engel, themselves journalists, and the script is largely chronological, as Gaston recounts Ivins's early family life with an articulate and dominating father, her variety of jobs at Texas newspapers as well as at The New York Times, and her evolution into a nationally syndicated columnist and best-selling author. Examples of Ivins's rapier wit are many and delightful. There are moments of drama — the death of lovers, for example — and Gaston describes these, but is less successful in conveying the depths of Ivins's anguish at these losses. Ivins's battle with breast cancer is bravely described, and Gaston captures the mixture of wit holding at bay the deep pain. Ivins's courage in publicly recording the treatment and surgery is admirable, and well-portrayed. The set is simple, a bare office with a teletype machine; two screens show slides of Texas governors and U.S. presidents, but these add little zest. Patti Bean directed the proceedings, handicapped by a script that contains too much preaching. Ivins knew that battles were won by skewering opponents, not by wagging a finger at them, but the Engels have forgotten that. An enjoyable tour of reminiscences, and abundant examples of Ivins's trenchant wit, make this docudrama both amusing and insightful. Through July 1. 4617 Montrose, 713-524-6706. — JJT

Travelsty Two couples travel around the country, singing about various states or cities, and through the alchemy of talent and showmanship turn this slight material into a totally entertaining two hours of pure pleasure. The setting is cabaret, with the talented four-piece band G Sharp and the MBT 3, and refreshments are available. The concept is minor, but the skits that bridge the songs — all original writing — range from merely pleasant to absolutely hilarious. Three of the skits had punch lines that seemed to come out of the blue but paid off so well I was blown away. The gifted performers are Rebekah Dahl and Brad Scarborough, married in real life and founders of The Music Box Theater, and Cay Taylor and Luke Wrobel, and after journeying cross-country with them, I'm calling them by their given names. All are attractive and work well together in harmony and in the choreography supporting the songs. Rebekah is tall and blond, Cay is medium height and dark, Luke looks like an American David Niven, and Brad has movie star looks but excels here as a comedic actor. He plays briefly several singers in a skit about Record #17 of Tony Bennett's Duets — it's fast-paced and huge fun. A recurring thread has them all in a car, Luke driving and Brad in the passenger seat, with the ladies behind. They also travel by rail and, hilariously, by plane. Videos accompany the opening and closing songs and add fun, but the show's triumph is the ensemble acting that creates a sense of friends off on a madcap odyssey. Four strong performers and a witty script weave familiar pop hits into a thoroughly pleasurable evening, a must-see for cabaret aficionados and for music lovers of any stripe. Through August 5. 2623 Colquitt, 713-522-7722. — JJT

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