The Nose

"The Nose" is one of the funniest, most inventive and literary shows you'll see anywhere at this moment. It's witty, whimsical and deliciously absurd. Adapted from a short story by Nikolai Gogol and directed with style and playfulness by Ryan Underbakke, "The Nose" centers on a candidate seeking higher office. The problem is that he has lost his schnozzle. When the nose surfaces, it is a celebrated political candidate: his opponent. Through choreography, clowning and fabulous timing, not to mention a great sense of play on the part of the acting trio (Theo Langasan, Brant Miller and Matt Spring), the producers have translated Gogol into a wonderfully arresting evening of theater. (2:30 p.m. Sun., 8:30 p.m. Tue., 5:30 p.m. Fri., 2:30 p.m. Aug. 11, Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Av. S., 8th floor.)


Private School

We could be given "mean girl," "cool guy," "arrogant jock" and all the other boring high school stereotypes, but "Private School" quickly dispels those audience fears with an intelligent, thought-provoking script and excellent, moving performances from the entire cast. It's a heartfelt look at youth and all of its formative angst: who we are, who we think we are and who others think we are; the betrayals, the disappointments and the eventual self-awareness that makes us whole. It would be wonderful to see each of these characters fleshed out into a full-length play. (5:30 p.m. Wed., 7 p.m. Fri., 10 p.m. Sat.; Rarig Thrust, 330 21st Av. S.)


The Cosmic Equation

Director Jon Ferguson taps an impressive roster of talent for Stephen Brooks' imaginative show about two numbers-obsessed men whose wives leave them. Tyson Forbes and Sara Richardson play multiple roles in a cast that also features Suzy Kohane and Alan Fessenden. Narrated weakly by Brooks in a horse costume and featuring beautiful puppets designed by Michael Sommers, this show is an experiment in the very early stages. It has fairy-tale elements such as magic balls and a giant prince, along with lots of sexual puns. While some of its bits are interesting, this fanciful experiment does not cohere. (4 p.m. Sun., 8:30 p.m. Mon., 10 p.m. Fri., 7 p.m. Sat.; Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Av. S.)

Rohan Preston

Hickory Minimum Security Correctional Facility Presents: Hoosiers: The Stage Adaptation

My heart skipped a beat as I noticed the menacing figure with a bolt-action rifle prowling the dusky balcony of Rarig's Thrust Theater. Too many Auroras and Columbines make this preshow ambiance-setter a poor theatrical choice. But that's the only bad decision in this weepingly funny mashup of a prison drama and an uplifting high school sports movie. Hickory Prison has earned the highest spot on U.S. News and World Report's "Shankability" ranking, and the warden wants an inmate-performed play produced to raise morale. Bizarre, obscene, hilarious — a sharp shank to the funny bone. Don't miss it. (7 p.m. Sun., 10 p.m. Fri., 4 p.m. Aug. 11; Rarig Thrust, 330 21st Av. S.)

Brian Leehan


"Effigy" is a men-behaving-badly vignette that — blessedly — flushes completely in a tedious 32 minutes. This cliché-ridden slog is a vapid look inside the heads of angry, white males facing life with a new female boss. Disgruntled managers are going to burn an effigy of their new buxom, blond bombshell CEO at a corporate retreat. Even 30 years ago, when this topic was actually new and relevant, the show would have been a hackneyed stereotype. If the playwright wants to burn something onstage, I would suggest starting with this script. (5:30 p.m. Mon., 10 p.m. Fri., 7 p.m. Sat.; Mixed Blood Theatre, 1501 S. 4th St.)


The Gravity of Ghosts

A quartet of raconteurs shares stories with spectral themes in this show produced by Paul Reed Nancarrow. The best story is Ward Rubrecht's "Between the Lanes," a gripping piece about his daily 8-mile bike ride alongside the rough-and-tumble traffic on Lake Street into St. Paul. The ride is shadowed by death. Rubrecht's piece has strong literary content, and he sells it dramatically like a performance poet. The other numbers in this collection, including Richard Rousseau's "101 Titanic" and Nancarrow's "Ghost in the Machine," are interesting, if not as deeply absorbing. (8:30 p.m. Mon., 7 p.m. Wed., 4 p.m. Fri., 7 p.m. Aug. 11; Woman's Club, 407 W. 15th St.)

Rohan Preston