When John Patrick Shanley's play Dirty Story debuted in New York in 2003, the playwright chose to forgo the standard playbill biography. Rather than mention Shanley's Oscar for the Moonstruck screenplay or numerous other accolades, the profile read, "John resides on Earth, in America, a country where the Democrats lost not only the Presidency, the House, and the Senate, but also their integrity, their credibility and their balls. Where Hillary Clinton voted to invade Iraq and Tom DeLay is considered to be a respectable man."
To put it lightly, that's not theater-speak for "something for everyone."
Though Dirty Story has been in previews for a week, it officially opens today at the Space Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, and it's sure to turn a few heads. Shanley penned the script with a newfound sense of political activism in the wake of 9/11, in an attempt to take a serious look at an important world situation.
Tickets, $34 to $50, are available at 303-893-4100, www.denvercenter.org or any King Soopers store; Dirty Story runs through November 13. -- Adam Cayton-Holland
The Art of War
In Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children, the mercenary Mother Courage is brought down by the realities of a war in a place and time far removed from our own. Although La Guerra Eterna/The Eternal War, a bilingual adaptation by local playwright Anthony Garcia of El Centro Su Teatro, places the same tale in yet another place and time -- the Mexican Revolution, where Madre Brava pushes forward to the tune of "La Cucaracha" -- it's being staged in a contemporary spirit, spurred on by current events. La Guerra Eterna, featuring original music by Rogelio Ransoli, opens tonight at 8:05 p.m. at El Centro, 4725 High Street, and continues through November 20. For showtimes and tickets, $10 to $13, call 303-296-0219 or visit www.suteatro.org. -- Susan Froyd
The Play's the Thing
Recovery showcases mental illness
Sometimes it takes a worried mind to create a work of art: If Shakespeare had written in the age of Paxil, Hamlet might not have been such an angst-filled treat. That's part of the idea behind People in the Act of Recovery: Voices From the Wishing Well, an original play written and performed by adults with psychiatric disabilities. Using skits, sketch comedy, music and improv, the writers and actors illuminate how tough, surreal and sometimes funny it can be to see life through the prism of a mental illness. There's plenty of method to their theatrical madness, however: People in the Act of Recovery is the first full-scale production from the Wishing Well Clubhouse, a program run by the Mental Health Center of Denver, which uses art, music and writing as tools of hope and recovery. The performance will be held at 7 p.m. tonight at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre, 119 Park Avenue West. For tickets, $5, call 303-504-1730. -- Laura Bond