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Best New Theater Houston 2000 - Ashland Street Theatre Co.,

Even the surroundings are theatrical -- sort of. When you drive up to Ashland Street Theatre Co., the first thing you see is the factory at the end of the street. Huge and metallic and glowing in the shadowy darkness, the ominous building looks like it could be the hideaway haven of some sort of mythic drug lord. But this is the sweet old-fashioned Heights. And nothing more serious than chain-link fencing seems to be coming from the corrugated walls. And as the theatrical muses would have it, it's not the big scary factory that's full of weirdness; it's the quaint white building a couple of houses over that fills the night with scenes of decadence and human destruction. That's because Travis Ammons, the young and lovely artistic director of the theater, clearly has a penchant for the strange and ribald. The opening season included plays about the nasty things people utter during sex (Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight), monologues about anal sex (Ray Hill) and scenes filled with incest (Fat Men in Skirts). Though not exactly sexy, the shows were certainly brazen and full of youthful chutzpah. And they were good enough and strange enough to make you wonder what kind of encore Ammons has planned for next year.

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