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As Barbra once sang, "Memories may be beautiful, and yet/What's too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget." In Kathleen Tolan's one-act play, Memory House, first presented at the Seattle Rep in 2003 as part of the Hedgebrook Women Playwright's Festival, a mother and her adoptive daughter play hide-and-seek with the past while preparing for the future. It's New Year's Eve, and daughter Katia (Sharia Pierce) must battle writer's block in order to finish her college application essay, due at midnight. But it's the Soviet Bloc that causes real stumbling. As a visualization aid, a memory house provides an imaginary architecture in which to store reminiscences. For Katia, whose pre-adoption recollections of Russia are about as sound as a house of cards, gaining a foothold proves challenging. Her mother Maggie (Jeanne Paulsen), since divorced from Katia's adoptive father, undertakes the baking of a pie, perhaps as a sweet counter to the vitriolic attack of teen spirit. It's a task paradoxically simple and fraught with peril—not unlike the relationship she has with her daughter—which, in the end, proves to be on solid ground. Seattle Repertory Theatre at the Leo K. Theatre, Seattle Center, Second Avenue and Mercer Street, 206-443-2222, www.seattlerep.org. $10–$40. 7:30 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 2 p.m. Sat.–Sun. Ends Dec. 17. SUZANNE BEAL
No one ever said making a living as a professional string quartet would be easy, but new energetic young groups are popping up all over anyway, none more acclaimed than the Pacifica. They'll play an early quartet by Mendelssohn and an autobiographical one by Smetana (a high, high violin E represents the ringing-in-the-ears of his encroaching deafness), plus Ainsi la nuit by Henri Dutilleux, a master of sonic color and one of the few 20th-century French composers who managed to avoid the extremes of either post-Les Six frivolity or post-Webern dogma. Meany Hall, UW campus, 206-543-4880, www.uwworldseries.org. $32. 8 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERT