Dark Comedy

FRI, 6/17

Arcos Azules Theatre company is confronting the same publicity dilemma faced by other troupes that have staged Shopping and Fucking, Mark Ravenhill's 1996 play.

Posters make generous use of asterisks to lessen the initial shock value of the title of this adults-only work. But the play itself pulls no punches. Petra Ulrych, who took over as director in midstream about three weeks ago, notes that the production contains both frontal nudity and simulated sex acts. "It's very dark, but very comedic," she says.

Shopping and Fucking, which was originally staged in London but has since traveled around the globe, features five characters. The main one is Mark, who tries to kick a heroin habit and equates any form of sexuality with co-dependency. He decides to pay for sex -- and winds up falling for a fourteen-year-old hustler scarred from an abusive past. "Mark makes all his sexual interactions transactions," Ulrych notes, allowing the play to explore what it means when people treat one another as commodities.

"This is not for your Neil Simon kind of crowd," she adds. "This is for people who like something edgier, and who are open-minded enough so they are not put off by explicit content."

Shopping and Fucking opens at 10 p.m. tonight at Crossroads Theatre, 2180 Stout Street, and is scheduled to run Friday and Saturday nights through July 16. It definitely contains some raw scenes -- but the shopping's another matter. For tickets, $25, call 303-296-0212. -- Ernie Tucker

Piping Up
Face brings a new approach to a cappella singing.
TUES, 6/21

The origin of the name of Boulder-based a cappella group Face is murky, but it could be a reference to the in-your-face attitude of the six guys in the ensemble. "It was better than the other options we had," says member Cody Qualls.

Using only their vocal pipes, the singers cover tunes ranging from Cake's "Short Skirt" to Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing." Still, Face doesn't embrace the traditional concept of the vocals-only style.

"When people think of a cappella, they picture guys in sky-blue jackets singing doo-wop. When I say 'a cappella,' people don't want to hear me; when I say 'vocal band,' they'll come," says singer Mark Megibow. "People are blown away by what we do because they don't know you can do that with the human voice."

The sextet will leave the barbershop crooning behind when it performs tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Rock 'N Soul Cafe, 5290 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder, with special guest Chatterbox. Tickets are $5 to $7; for information, call 303-443-5108. -- Amelia Langer