Playwright Ari Hoptman invokes the concept of the banality of evil in this piece about the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann, who toiled in Hitler's madhouse. Eichmann is played by actor David Mann as a loyal functionary for whom love of Hitler and the deportation of the Jews was not a matter of passion, it was simply a job. Mann is excellent, parrying what he considers glib and irritating questions from a woman (Jennifer Blagen) let in to visit him. A parallel scene of an interrogation clinical test never quite feels part of the same play, but Hoptman's grasp of Eichmann's state of mind is sharp in this provocative drama. (8:30 p.m. Wed., 7 p.m. Fri., 10 p.m. Sat.; Rarig Arena, 330 21st Av. S.)
'Dr. Deep – Shake Your Noggin Like a Bobblehead'
Zaraawar Mistry's clever one-man show begins with an air of meditative reverence, complete with a tolling gong. Don't be fooled. Over the course of a lecture peddling "Ultimate Liberation Philosophy," Mistry's character admits his Indian accent is fake, his title unearned and his belief system nothing more than a sales pitch. He lays this out with such complete charm, composure and unflappable goodwill that he completely wins over his audience. Rarely has such absolute drivel been delivered with such sly panache. (10 p.m. Wed., 5:30 p.m. Thu., 4 p.m. Sun.; Phoenix Theater, 2605 Hennepin Av. S.)
The troupe Transatlantic Love Affair has been a Fringe darling for several years. Director Diogo Lopes puts eight actors and two musicians into a story about a country bumpkin who rises to become a mysterious bootlegger during Prohibition. The troupe's signature is a highly physical style that uses actors as swinging doors, rocking chairs and pickup trucks. Stage images are not always crystal clear, but the inventiveness and strong characterizations carry this work. The narrative has a few dramaturgical snags that raise questions, but push through those rough spots and enjoy one of the most polished works in the festival. (5:30 p.m. Tue., 7 p.m. Fri., 1 p.m. Sat.; Ritz Proscenium, 345 13th Av. NE.)
'Getting to Ellen'
David Ahlvers' inspired adaptation of transgender author/activist Ellen Krug's autobiography illuminates her identity struggle with glistening clarity. A seamless acting trio — Amy Schweickhardt, Joe Wiener, Catherine Hansen — fluidly chronicles Krug's psychological journey from a childhood of fascination with girls' underwear to life as a dutiful father who saw his wife as a soul mate to a painfully baffling period of getting past misunderstandings society creates by lumping identity, gayness and cross-dressing into the same category. This luminous piece masterfully sidesteps preachy politicking and self-pity. (4 p.m. Fri., 8:30 p.m. Sat.; Mixed Blood Theatre, 1501 S. 4th St.)
'Standing on Ceremony'
Vibrant performances shine throughout these short works that muse on gay marriage. Stephanie Weiss delights as a Jewish mother who takes out a personal ad posing as her son, in hope of snaring him a handsome husband with a successful career. Donna Heaston crackles as a perky "traditional family values" activist who fears "the gay agenda" will lure her husband away from her. In stark contrast, Pat Hammond devastates as an older man who mourns his deceased life partner to whom he committed himself, decades before marriage equality. (7 p.m. Tue., 8:30 p.m. Sat., 7 p.m. Sun.; Rarig Proscenium, 320 21st Av. S.)
'Apostle on the Edge'
James Hanson proposes that through a wrinkle in time, the apostle Paul comes to us on his last day of life to set the record straight: He is not anti-woman, anti-gay or anti-Semitic. He can't understand how letters intended for early congregations became part of holy scripture, and he laments how his words have been used for centuries of anti-Semitism. He was, after all, a Jew himself. Hanson, an associate professor of New Testament at St. Olaf College, portrays the apostle as a stammering, frenzied man (drawing evidence from Paul's own writing) desperate to redeem his reputation. An interest in Christian theology helps, but Hanson brings a welcome passion that makes this a good piece of theater on its own. (10 p.m. Tue., 8:30 p.m. Sat.; Ritz Studio, 345 13th Av. NE.)
'A Mermaid in Narnia (on LSD)'
Ariel Leaf's transgressive solo piece relates her adolescence of navigating hallucinogenic drug use and happy sexual experiences with both genders in contrast to rape and predatory men. She endured this at the price of disempowered self-esteem and was judged as unworthy by others, including some in the punk scene she was a part of. Perhaps the most provocative element of this stunning performance is how it dares to wonder if drug use can expand one's consciousness rather than destroy it. By pushing boundaries she has tapped into her inner self. (7 p.m. Tue., 8:30 p.m. Fri., 2:30 p.m. Sun.; Huge Theater, 3037 Lyndale Av. S.)