Brief Encounters

10 Naked Men, God's Man in Texas, and Glengarry Glen Ross.


Theatre Off Jackson, 409 Seventh Ave. S., 866-468-3399. $25-$35. 8 p.m. Thurs.-Fri.; 7 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Also 10 p.m. Sat. and 3 p.m. Sun., June 8. Ends Sun., June 8.

If you're immediately drawn to theater advertising 10 naked men, you're going to go no matter what anybody says. That's fine, of course, just know that, since the "theater" aspect is noticeably missing, you'll be paying $25 to leave the show thinking, "10 Naked MenNot Much to Look At."

You've got to hand it to playwright Ronnie Larsen, who, in his modest way, does gay marketing better than anyone but Madonna. His oeuvreof which this is the weakest work so fardraws homo crowds simply by promising a salacious milieu, ample nudity, and a porn star in his stage debut. Last time aroundin Making Porn, about the adult-film industryhe gave us disappointingly chunky triple-X icon Ryan Idol. This latest masterwork offers someone named Rocky, who is short, in delectable shape, lists his cell phone number in his program bio, and delivers all of his lines in a deadened monotone that makes HAL, the computer from 2001, sound like Richard Burton. (And, from the looks of things, it must be very cold on stage.)

Againif this is all you require, have at it. The evening has low ambitions, a couple of sitcom-ready laughs, and some very iffy actors, most of whom might want to remain bundled up for any future projects. It's just a stereotypical collection of blackout scenes about boy-for-hire Rocky, his naive boyfriend, another "escort," an effeminate actor, some mean agents, and how, when you get right down to it, everyone is basically a hustler in big, bad, immoral Hollywood. On second thought, let's call it "10 Naked Men and One Unsurprising Epiphany." STEVE WIECKING


Taproot Theatre, 204 N. 85th St., 206-781-9707. $10-$26. Pay-what-you-can Wed., May 21.

7:30 p.m. Wed.-Thurs.; 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; 2 p.m. matinees Sat. Ends Sat., June 14.

It's one thing to watch The 700 Club on an idle afternoon, fascinated by the grim theatricality of big-budget evangelical Christianity, so long as there's a TV screen between you and Pat Robertson. It's even tolerable to stumble across a massive tent revival and watch from a distance the feverish attempts of some Baptist minister to convert the masses. It's entirely another thing to sit in a small theater and witness the grand and terrifying spectacle of a televangelist in action.

God's Man in Texas is an intimate portrait, a squeamish close-up, of two men who don't fit inside any frame. In telling the story of rival pastors grappling for power in the "largest Protestant church in the world," playwright David Rambo pulls off a neat little hat trick: He turns a critical eye on televised fundamentalism without resorting to mockery. Not that I'm averse to mockery particularly when the object of disdain is a TV preacherbut I'm impressed with Rambo's restraint. I'm equally impressed with Taproot Theatre's production, perhaps because God's Man perfectly suits the company (and the cast is superb). This is thoughtful, forthright theater, calling traditions into question while maintaining a baseline of hope.

While I take issue with some of the developments in the second actRambo clings a bit too tightly to father-son issues, giving each character a heavy-handed Daddy complexI must admit that the play's conclusion, spiritual and optimistic though it may be, had this cynical atheist yearning for his daddy's hankie. CHRIS JENSEN


Capitol Hill Arts Center, 1621 12th Ave., 206-325-6500. $8-$22. 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. Ends Sat., May 31.

Director Aim饠Bruneau says she wants to humanize David Mamet's acidic, Pulitzer-winning drama and reclaim it from the hands of productions that turn its people into macho caricatures. She has done that here, but I can't say it was the best idea.

Glengarry is arguably one of the finest pieces of theater from the last centuryit's the nasty cousin to Death of a Salesman, a decidedly less sensitive but, strangely, no less moving work than Miller's classic. Mamet's group of amoral salesmen decimate each other over real-estate leads, and, yep, what we're really seeing so devastatingly picked apart is the cozy fraudulence of the American Dream.

Bruneau gets the quiet human flailing of anyone who buys into that dream, but the problem is that Mamet's work just isn't quietly human. The force of the play comes from how much we're swept up in the showy surfaces of these guys when Mamet dashes us to the ground with their depths. But Bruneau is all depths here. Except for John Farrage, who does well by the silver-tongued Roma, the capable cast can't get cracking until Act II, when Mamet actually begins to expose the fragility Bruneau longs for. She lays so far back into humane naturalism that the show has none of the playwright's iconic snap: You admire the dark compassion, but you don't thrill to it. The production is missing a kind of sick flashwe should leave feeling like we've been punched in the stomach and were asking for it all along. S.W.

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