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On Stage

Capsule reviews of current area stage shows.

Hot 'N' Throbbing -- While Paula Vogel's play serves as a direct commentary on the juncture of pornography, parenting, and domestic violence, the larger issue of how we all integrate our inner demons within a challenging external world is also illuminated in this thrilling production. Charlene appears to be a typical 38-year-old mom with two teenage kids, but almost immediately we learn that she's a writer of porn scripts for a feminist film company. Vogel's script starts strong, with a nervy, black-humor sensibility, but it gradually becomes entangled in its own stereotypes and ends on a gigantically depressing note. But what is gratifying are the superb production values brought to the stage by a gifted cast and fresh, witty direction by Clyde Simon. It's fortunate that the restlessly inventive minds at Convergence-Continuum selected this work, for it's an evening that will stay in your memory for some time. Presented by through July 17 at the Liminis, 2438 Scranton Road, 216-687-0074. -- Howey

Oliver Twisted --It has been claimed that there's a gene in some people's DNA spiral that compels them to seek out risky, potentially harmful activities, such as rock-climbing, deep-sea diving, and parking at expired meters in Cleveland Heights. True to their risk-adoring genes, the seven-member group titled Oliver Twisted (made up of former members of the now-defunct Second City Cleveland) does audience-inspired material exclusively, without the safety net of scripted modules. And thanks to a fortunate blending of physical types and personalities among the performers -- along with their determined insistence on yanking every loose comedic thread -- this is an improv experience that will leave you laughing far more often than wincing. The troupe's resident nutcase, Randall Harr, is a fairly normal-looking fellow who transforms into a maniacally, often hilariously intense embodiment of whatever animal, vegetable, or mineral he's been assigned. Mondays at Hilarities Comedy Club at Pickwick & Frolic, 2035 E. 4th St., 216-736-4242. -- Howey

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