The Break-Up / Break- Down, Circle Circle Dot Dot's inaugural production, comes this close to crossing the line between theater and burlesque—such is its obsession with a single element (in this case, the word “fuck”) and with sketch comedy as its driving medium.
The original piece by writer / artistic director Katherine Harroff and the company, featuring five couples who meet, fall in love, break up, break down and mend fences, loses control of itself during a lot of the first act, chiefly because everybody's trying so fucking hard to be so fucking funny. Things do simmer down as the pain of loneliness settles in, with some genuine belly-laughs involving Jay (Patrick Kelly), who smells “like ass,” and his ex Sandra (a funny Samantha Ginn), who takes a measure of revenge by shitting in his Jeep. The problem is that everybody— everybody—is over the top at some point or another in this show, leaving us without a solid counterpoint to the insanity of it all. Over the top is great, but it's effective only when there's a bottom on which to reflect.
But Harroff's a smart lady—she knows that shtick is going to play with audiences only so long, and it's to her credit that she's surrounded herself with actors like the popular Jacque Wilke (a riot as the flighty Cecily) and Brendan Cavalier (very good as the rudderless Tommy) to gain momentum for future outings.
Meanwhile, folks in their 20s will probably like this a lot, and they'll have seen an earnest, cutting-edge new group in the process.
Through July 10 at The Tenth Avenue Theatre, 930 10th Avenue, Downtown. $15-$20. circle2dot2.com
Much Ado about Nothing: While Beatrice and Benedick hide their infatuation beneath witty barbs, young love blossoms as Hero and Claudio race to the altar, with the wicked Don John conspiring to break up the wedding. It's in previews and opens June 29 at The Old Globe Theatre's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. $29-$67. oldglobe.org
Hershey Felder in George Gershwin Alone: Felder reprises his portrayal of George Gershwin, one of the most influential composer / musicians of the 20th century. Opens July 1 at The Old Globe Theatre mainstage in Balboa Park. $66-$90. oldglobe.org
Shrek the Musical: Princess Fiona is rescued by a big fat ogre, not the handsome prince she had in mind. Produced by Broadway / San Diego, it opens in previews July 5 at the Civic Theatre, Downtown. $20 and up. broadwaysd.com
Peer Gynt: A bunch of smelly trolls scare a scoundrel straight—straight into the arms of his lady love. Co-produced by La Jolla Playhouse and The Kansas City Repertory Theatre, it's in previews and opens July 6 at the Potiker Theatre in La Jolla. $35-$69. lajollaplayhouse.org
Death of a Salesman: Willy Loman is smiling on the outside, but his emotional bankruptcy is killing his career and dividing his family. Through July 3 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. $20-$40. newvillagearts.org
My Name Is Asher Lev: A young Hasidic Jewish artist is torn between following his heart and following his faith. Through July 3 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. $30-$47. northcoastrep.org
Our Town: George Gibbs and Emily Webb's everyday lives reveal humanity's deeper aspects in early-20th-century New England. Produced by Cygnet Theatre Company, it runs through July 10 at The Old Town Theatre. $34-$49. cygnettheatre.com
The Music Man: Conman Harold Hill comes to River City with a scam involving a boys marching band, but things don't go according to plan. Produced by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through July 24 at the Ione and Paul Harter Stage in Coronado. $22-$58. lambsplayers.org
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 Sept. 4 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. $28-$58. lambsplayers.org
Amadeus: Composer Antonio Salieri throws up a series of roadblocks to sidetrack the career of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, his supposed archrival. Through Sept. 22 at The Old Globe Theatre's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. $29-$67. oldglobe.org
The Tempest: With the help of his spirit friend Ariel, the magician Prospero conjures up a shipwreck that restores his daughter to her rightful place in the Milan hierarchy. Through Sept. 25 at The Old Globe Theatre's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. $29-$67. oldglobe.org
Shotgun Wedding Anniversary: How else can a miserable 25-year marriage end but in murder? Presented by Mystery Cafe, it's ongoing at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. $59.50, including dinner. mysterycafe.net