At Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 16th Street), through June 11. Admission is $9-15; call 626-3311.
The strangest show onstage now in San Francisco is a one-man "hyper-opera" by David Rodwin, who seems to be from New York. To a prerecorded score of sampled voices, cartoon sound effects, and more traditional instruments like drums and violin, Rodwin plays out the story of Amy and Mike, modern lovers working on a virtual-reality simulation of the sea. There are flashbacks to Mike's childhood; Mike also sneezes while driving, and dies in a fiery crash. The whole show is conceived as a piece of music, with Rodwin's stylized movement and lip-synced dialogue woven into the score. Events repeat, play out of order, and lurch into live song. Some scenes do create an alternate world, in which the habitual, superficial ways we speak and behave are held up for inspection; blue-lit scenes of Mike "underwater" -- in the VR simulator -- are the most hypnotic, and the whole performance is rhythmically brilliant. The problem is that everything -- and everyone -- is evoked with quotation marks: Rodwin allows no access to his characters. And his songs are boring. He's a good technical pupil of Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, and Anne Bogart, but Rodwin needs to mature: His virtual ocean is dry.
At Venue 9, 252 Ninth St. (at Folsom), through June 10. Admission is $10-16; call 248-1918.