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Ups and Downs

Yucks and doom on display in two new plays

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COFFEE KLATCH Angela Squire, center, dates a serial killer in the funny ‘Women in Jeopardy.’ - ARGO THOMPSON
  • Argo Thompson
  • COFFEE KLATCH Angela Squire, center, dates a serial killer in the funny ‘Women in Jeopardy.’

Female protagonists in peril are the focus of one silly and one melancholy production running now on North Bay stages.

Left Edge Theatre's Women in Jeopardy! is a laugh-out-loud look at the changing dynamic among a group of single friends once one of them begins a relationship. That the friends are middle-aged women makes for a nice change of pace.

Mary (Shannon Rider) and Jo (Sandra Ish) are having a tough time adjusting to a new addition to their circle of friends. Their friend Liz (Angela Squire) has a new man in her life and Jackson (Richard Pallaziol) is not quite their cup of tea. He's a dentist who makes Little Shop of Horrors' Orin Scrivello, DDS look like a pussycat. His hygienist has gone missing and it doesn't take long for Mary and Liz to leap to the conclusion that he's the responsible party. What do you do when your best friend is dating a serial killer?

Director Carla Spindt deftly guides these wine-swilling ladies through their hijinks, with Ish's frequently flabbergasted second-banana Jo garnering a lot of laughs with just a look. Pallaziol is hilariously creepy as Jackson and equally amusing as a Dudley Do-Right-ish police sergeant. Victoria Saitz as Mary's daughter and Zane Walters as her cougar-hunting on again/off again boyfriend also contribute to the fun.

There's no great message to be found here, just a lot of laughs.

Rating (out of five)★★★★

If Greek mythology is more to your taste, then Main Stage West has a production of Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice running through June 2. Ruhl has flipped the focus of the classic tale of Orpheus (Taylor Diffenderfer) and his quest to bring his wife Eurydice (Brianna Rene Dinges) back from the dead to Eurydice's time in the underworld and her relationship with her father (John Craven).

Director Chris Ginesi flips it even further with the non-traditional casting of Orpheus that while seeming to fit Ruhl's alternative world of raining elevators, a tricycle-riding Lord of the Underworld (Neil Thollander)and a Greek chorus of Talking Stones (mollie boice, Nick Christenson, Samantha Bolke-Slater), actually detracts from it.

It's a visually arresting piece with inventive design elements that complement the script's other-worldliness and the performances are good, but there's a hole in the heart of this production.

Rating (out of five)★★★

'Women in Jeopardy!' runs through May 27 at Left Edge Theatre. 50 Mark West Springs Rd., Santa Rosa. Thu–Sat, 8pm; Sun. at 2pm. $25–$40. 707.546.3600. 'Eurydice' runs through June 2 at Main Stage West, 104 N. Main St., Sebastopol. Thu–Sat, 8pm; Sun. at 5pm. $15–$30. 707.823.0177

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