When a woman is incarcerated for a public outburst, waves of protest sweep the land. Pervasive surveillance and police state tactics are called upon to suppress social unrest. Playwright/director Mark Rosenwinkel chillingly speculates on unconstitutional interrogation techniques used against the woman and ordinary people who have been close to her. A first-rate cast penetrates sharply conflicting emotions in an unsettling dispute over the proper use and abuse of power. Rosenwinkel dreams the nightmare of what happens when a democratic republic morphs into an undemocratic national security state. (5:30 p.m. Fri., 5:30 p.m. Sat., Theatre in the Round Players, 245 Cedar Av. S.)


On the Differences Between Two Ladies and the Resolution Thereof

Fifty-minute show, three acts, multiple scenes in one of them. "Ambitious," I thought. "This is going to be brilliant, or it's going to be a disaster." It was simply a bore. This comedy of manners would be better served by a cast who can breathe life into the quasi-elevated, faux early-19th-century language. Some training, and ability, at rapier stage combat would help, too. Sue Gerver does some serviceable work as an eyepatch-sporting baroness. Otherwise, this show would be right at home on any middle-school stage. (10 p.m. Fri.)


The Complete Works of William Shatner (abridged)

The genesis of this show was undoubtedly late in the night, and deep into the last keg, of a theater party: Everyone who could stand was doing their best "worst" William Shatner imitation. Perhaps I should see this one-note/one-joke show again -- drunk. Every clichd, overacted "Captain Kirk," "T.J. Hooker" and "Priceline Negotiator" mannerism and vocal affectation is played to death. There are a few amusing insider jokes for Trekkies, and the show offers a good solid 8 minutes of fun. The problem is the other 42 minutes. (5:30 p.m Fri., 4 p.m. Sun., Rarig Thrust, 330 21st Av. S.)


casual encounters

This is a beautifully written and acted show about old wounds, dark places and what we do to heal ourselves. A successful CFO in the family business, Polly finds she can no longer live the life her father dictates. A Craigslist ad brings her together in an abandoned theater with Moira -- a woman full of life, and further along in her healing than Polly, but with her own untold history of pain. The female "Fight Club" that ensues is funny, touching and cathartic. Nora Montaez and Georgia Hallman are outstanding. A must-see. (10 p.m. Sat., Gremlin)


The Naked I

20% Theatre offers a touching and piercingly focused staging of nine short dramatic works on gender nonconformity and ambiguity. Most are monologues about prejudices suffered by people who do not and/or cannot adhere to standard social codes for masculinity and femininity. Imagine waking up after napping on a bus, only to be confronted by an aggressive traveler who demands to know not who you are, but what you are. In a contrasting piece, a young butch lesbian's parents embrace her gayness before she has even come out to them. (5:30 p.m. Fri., 7 p.m. Sun., Playwrights' Center, 2301 E. Franklin Av.)



Dovetail Theatre Company's creative team takes unabashed pleasure in retooling a classic tale, a sweetly simplistic folk-rock adaptation of the Washington Irving fable "Rip Van Winkle." Though periodically veering toward heavy-handedness, David Darrow's catchy score and Kara Davidson's script excel when they avoid emo moments and submit to inventiveness, like a rock concert with explorer Henry Hudson (played by the talented Darrow). As the father of 67 children who dozes off in 1952 only to sleep his life away, actor Billy Balmer could be an extra on "Mad Men" for his clean-cut mid-century demeanor. (1 p.m. Sun., Mpls Theatre Garage, 711 W. Franklin Av.)


Fruit Fly: The Musical

Max Wojtanowicz (Fruit) and Sheena Janson (Fly) have been friends for 17 years. This musical explores their evolving friendship as a gay man and a straight woman, full of broad physical comedy and sharp, sarcastic wit. Their depiction of gay culture and the emotional complications of this kind of relationship is funnier than "Will & Grace" (which they reference), and has some delightful songs. But Rarig's arena space proves difficult for them. When they have their backs turned, it is frequently hard to hear all the clever lyrics. (7 p.m. Fri., 4 p.m. Sat., Rarig Arena, 330 21st Av. S.)


The Billy Willy Show

No gag at the expense of Appalachia is too trite, no Michele Bachmann dick joke too stale for Billy Willy, a fictional, possibly ex-gay, Christian country music star, who in a monologue aided by an iPad guitar app, details his romantic mishaps and his rise and fall from marginal fame. The mild-mannered cowboy delivers his autobiography in a painstakingly slow, measured twang that weakens the outrageousness of his claims. It's a drag act without the bells and whistles of drag; the result feels clichd and somewhat gloomy. (5:30 p.m. Fri., 2:30 p.m. Sat., Huge Improv Theater, 3037 Lyndale Av. S.)