The Figments sounds like one of those boy groups, or girl groups, from the '50s, the kind heard on jukeboxes. In Robert Moutal's John Doe, the Ultimate Midlife Crisis, the Figments are the stars of the show. They're figments inside the mind of seemingly comatose writer David Levinson, aka John Doe. What characters they are, too: a lab-coated doctor (Geoffrey A. Cox) who speaks in that familiar Austrian analytical accent; a lawyer; Thornton Gregory Sickley (Austin Holden), who's more GQ than IQ; a humorless goody-two-shoes cop (Albert Park); an average Joe named Avery Joe (Michael Parrott), who dresses like Pugsley Addams; and a tattooed punk boy nicknamed "Psycho" (Keala Milles), who shouts and snarls every line as if auditioning for the next Madagascar movie.
Presented by Chinese Pirate Productions, John Doe Productions and A Culture of Peace, John Doe, the Ultimate Midlife Crisis aspires at once to Beckettian absurdity and an off-Broadway sweetness, though neither really carries the day. The illusion of being inside John Doe's brain with the Figment guys, while the poor dude himself is lying in a hospital bed, being tended, Florence Nightingale-like, by Nurse Abby (Rachel Propst), is an easy sell. Moved jauntily along by short but clever (with a few exceptions) tunes and the Figments' infighting and cracking wise, the show is intellectually challenging for about the first five minutes. Then it's showtune time in the unconscious guy's noggin, with a little nifty choreography by Courtney Corey.
The one knockout performance comes from Jane Lui as John Doe's duplicitous wife, Julie. Her robust voice is the best in the cast, her big second-act number, "It Takes Two to Tango," a sexy and defiant treat.
The Figments must, the story goes, find a way to awaken Doe/Levinson before said wife tries (for a second time) to do him in. Sure as Nurse Abby croons her smitten heart out, we know they will.
On opening night, the live band on stage rocked supportively, though the actors' vocals were cranked up too loud—Psycho's were enough to make you psycho, or at least wacko. Nurse Abby, call the sound guy. Stat!
John Doe, the Ultimate Midlife Crisis runs through Nov. 25 at the Lyceum Space, Horton Plaza, downtown. $20-$35. johndoethemusical.com
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!: A mean ol' beast gets a lesson in kindness when he meets his match in Whoville. Opens Nov. 17 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Hickorydickory: What happens when everyone has an internal "mortal" clock that ticks until death, but you can actually hear yours and you know when it's going to stop? Opens in previews on Nov. 17 at Moxie Theatre in Rolando. moxietheatre.com
The Little Flower of East Orange: Ion Theatre Company peels back the layers of an elderly woman's past, as told by her son, after she's found unconscious in a wheelchair in Manhattan and brought to the hospital. Now in previews, it opens on Nov. 17 at BLKBOX Theatre in Hillcrest. iontheatre.com
When Last We Flew: A gay, black teen in small-town Kansas encounters a copy of the play Angels in America, and its effect is transformative. Now in previews, it opens Nov. 17 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. diversionary.org
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots: It's the hotly anticipated world premiere of a musical, based on the 2002 album of the same name by The Flaming Lips, about a girl who must choose between two guys and—you guessed it—battle some pink robots. Now in previews, it opens Nov. 17 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.com
Measure for Measure: A clever plot is hatched to save a man after an evil conservative judge unjustly sentences him to death for fornication. Presented by The Old Globe and the University of San Diego, it runs through Nov. 18 at the Globe's Sheryl & Harvey Wright Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Peter Pan: A flying boy (played by aging gymnast Cathy Rigby), accompanied by an itty-bitty fairy, takes a small herd of children to his island, where they're abducted by a murderous pirate who has a hook for a hand. Runs through Nov. 18 at the Civic Theatre, Downtown. broadwaysd.com
Words By: Ira Gershwin and the Great American Songbook: A musical tribute to George Gershwin's older brother, who penned the lyrics to numerous classic tunes from the 1920s through the 1950s. Through Nov. 18 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org
Around the World in 80 Days: It's 1872 and smart guy Phileas Fogg sets out to prove he can get around the globe in less than three months. How quaint! Through Nov. 18 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
John Doe, the Ultimate Midlife Crisis: As a patient with severe brain trauma lies unresponsive in a hospital, his wife and his five personalities are the waiting room—which one is John Doe's true identity? Through Nov. 25 at the Lyceum Space at Horton Plaza, Downtown. johndoethemusical.com
miXtape: Generation X was torn between disillusionment and hope in this cavalcade of music from the 1980s. Produced by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through Nov. 25 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. lambsplayers.org
A Hammer, A Bell, and A Song to Sing: What was originally a show celebrating the music of Pete Seeger became a broader piece about the folk music of social and political change in America. San Diego Repertory Theatre staged it nearly a year ago and is bringing it back now, with additional material. Through Dec. 2 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. sdrep.org
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas: A Texas brothel is under a siege launched by a pesky TV reporter. Through Dec. 2 at Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com
Holiday Spirits: In a Dickensian-style original by local Jim Caputo, a mysterious Realtor and three prospective home-buying couples give Ron and Laura food for thought as they go about the business of splitting up and selling their house. Presented by Scripps Ranch Theatre, it runs through Dec. 9 at the Legler-Benbough Theater at Alliant University. scrippsranchtheatre.org
Once Upon a Wedding: Zaniness abounds during a wedding gone horribly wrong, and it does so while patrons dine aboard a boat making its way around Mission Bay, beginning at the Bahia Resort Hotel. Runs on various dates through Dec. 13. onceuponaweddingthemusical.com
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots: It's the hotly anticipated world premiere of a musical, based on the 2002 album of the same name by The Flaming Lips, about a girl who must choose between two guys and—you guessed it—battle some pink robots. Through Dec. 16 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.com
Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. mysterycafe.net