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Killing My Lobster and the Wonderful World of Science 

A madcap, if uneven, romp from evolution to nuclear fission

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Killing My Lobster's latest sketch comedy extravaganza, Killing My Lobster and the Wonderful World of Science, can perhaps best be described as Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask in lab coats. Geared toward proving an earth-shattering thesis, namely, that "science is everywhere," the Lobsters peer down their microscopes at a dizzying range of heretofore unexplored scientific phenomena -- from evolutionary theorist Stephen Jay Gould's book titles to the little-known religious sect of matheism. With punchy performances from all six cast members and a mad professor-style musical accompaniment from the Lobster live band, the show does a pretty good job of making us see the science pages of the New York Times and nuclear fission as we have never seen them before. If anything contaminates the Lobsters' richly cultured petri dish, it's the writing: As with the recent presidential election-inspired production Killing My Lobster Goes to the Polls, many of the sketches in the Wonderful World of Science start off with a bang but end with a fizzle, as if the writers ran out of plutonium while constructing their bomb.

Through July 30 at the Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (between Mason and Taylor), S.F. Tickets are $10; call 673-3847 or visit www.theexit.org.

Boxcar Bertha

A Depression-era tale of drifters and activists, riding the rails

As part of this year's LaborFest, Exit Theatre founder and Artistic Director Christina Augello brings Bertha Thompson, a Depression-era hobo and activist, to life in a solo show written by Kerry Reid (in collaboration with Augello and director John Warren), Boxcar Bertha. Dressed in blue overalls and a flat cap, Augello, as Bertha, recounts the events of this formidable drifter's life, from her days riding the railroads and stealing from fancy department stores to her time as a prostitute and eventual strike organizer. Augello's cheerful, matter-of-fact performance as the tough and worldly Bertha is counterbalanced throughout by local musician Jack "Applejack" Walroth's gentle and slightly mournful guitar accompaniment. In this understated, thoughtful little show (which would work just as well performed on a street corner, a ship's deck, or, indeed, in a railroad car), Augello and Walroth do more than tell Bertha's bittersweet story -- they evoke an entire era.

Through July 30 at the Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (between Mason and Taylor), S.F. Tickets are $10; call 673-3847 or visit www.theexit.org.

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