Voltaire's picaresque novel is epic in ideas as well as in globe-hopping scope. Nick Ryan's adaptation abridges the wild tale while successfully maintaining both Voltaire's witty satire and his intellectual debate. Four Humors Theater's production is as outrageous as the story. Director Jason Ballweber creates a broadly theatrical, anarchic experience. As the hapless Candide, Brant Miller is silly, but also sweet, giving the show an emotional punch. Playing multiple roles, Matt Spring, Ryan Lear, Christian Bardin and Anna Hickey dazzle. (10 p.m. Mon., 7 p.m. Fri., 5:30 p.m. Sat., Rarig Thrust, 330 21st Ave. S.)


Comedy, Magic, & Neurosis

The title aptly sums up writer-performer David Harris' stand-up-cum-stage-memoir. He effortlessly turns tricks with cards, bottle caps and fake snow, all the while daubing sweat as he tells us about growing up in New Hope (No Hope), crashing as a student at the University of Minnesota and suffering through his parents' divorce. Harris' self-deprecating, nervous shtick could be tightened, if only because we tire of feeling sorry for someone who seems to be dying up there. On the plus side, he had a very good opening act in Miss Shannon. (5:30 p.m. Wed., 10 p.m. Fri., 8:30 p.m. Sat., Rarig Arena, 330 21st Av S.)


Hans The Obscure

Lawrence Ripp has adapted three minor works by Hans Christian Andersen -- "Clod Hans," "It Is Perfectly True!" and "Little Clause & Big Claus." The stories have the Andersen whimsy, caprice and dark humor, but in Ripp's telling, they go flat. The tales play best in the mind, as narratives to be read, rather than dramatic vessels. John Gottskalkson serves as narrator, and when theater needs a narrator, you know the action is not going to be very lively. Ripp and Mahmoud Hakima put some energy into this, but you're best served checking out the book. (5:30 p.m. Mon. & Wed., 7 p.m. Fri., 4 p.m. Sat., Brave New Workshop Student Union, 2605 Hennepin Av.)



Milwaukee-based choreographer Kelly Radermacher attempts to blind us with science in this work inspired by the peculiar, almost video-game-like movements, of the tiniest organisms -- as seen through a microscope. The piece has a certain geeky charm (sections are named for terms like "scission" and "turgor" -- look 'em up), particularly when Radermacher pops and locks like a cell-gone-cyborg or the entire cast -- dubbed the Organelles -- busily crisscrosses the stage. The cerebral set-up will resonate with fans of biology, but those who cut class may find themselves daydreaming about less substantial things. (8:30 p.m. Tue. & Wed., Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Av. S.)


Kafkaesque: A Musical Metamorphosis

Nathan Schilz's musical adaptation of Kafka's tale works beautifully, with a score that fits the story and a script that preserves the literature. Especially strong are the young Anna Larranaga as Greta and Joshua Rees Hopkins as her doomed brother Gregor, the man who wakes up as a bug. Hopkins throws himself into the role, vocally as well as physically; we can actually hear his fingernails rake the stage. Maybe Hopkins slides slightly off his pitch from time to time, but give him a break. He's crawling on his belly. (8:30 p.m. Tues., 10 p.m. Wed; 10 p.m. Fri., Mixed Blood Theatre, 1501 S. Fourth St.)

eric ringham

The Computer Wore Semiotics

The best moment in this pairing of two monologues is a dirty joke told by Loren Niemi. He was at a conference and told the joke and a "woman in the third row laughed." If that moment were a metaphor or somehow connected to the rest of Niemi's dissertation on the human need to create, we might have something. Paula Nancarrow provides the other half of the show with her own shaggy-dog story about word processing and her doctoral pursuit of Victorian literature. There are nuggets, but in its entirety, the show doesn't satisfy. (5:30 p.m. Mon., 7 p.m. Fri., 4 p.m. Sat., Patrick's Cabaret, 3010 Minnehaha Av. S.)


Nightmare Without Pants

Another delightful romp through the witty, funhouse-mirror-mind of Joseph Scrimshaw. The Anger Pony; Beer Can-Mouth Man; Special Agent Bob Jackass of the Bureau of Alcohol, Taxes and Feet; men without pants ... welcome to Joseph's nightmare. For all its absurdist insanity, the show has both heart and message, examining glass-half-empty yang as it smashes against the yin of people finding, and accepting, happiness as life is willing to offer it. We learn that there is a path to reclaiming our "song" and, ultimately, finding our "happy face." (5:30 p.m. Wed., 10 p.m. Fri., 8:30 p.m. Sat., Rarig Thrust, 330 21st St.)