This Boy's Life Conditions in a harsh Midwestern reform school become slightly more bearable for two boys who befriend one another in Shimmer, the fourth work in the Magic Theater's 30th anniversary season, and the first since director Mame Hunt announced her imminent departure to Seattle's A Contemporary Theater. Actor/playwright John O'Keefe based the tale partly on his own experiences growing up in Midwestern Catholic orphanages, and tells it by becoming each character in turn. It's 1956 in Shimmer, and a pair of misfits have created their very own fantasy world, complete with a surreal philosophy and parameters so broad that the movement of streams and breezes becomes a language that travels between dimensions, a language the boys call "shimmer." Their collaboration eventually leads to a lock-down, and, ultimately, a breakout. The show previews at 8:30 p.m. (and runs through April 26) at the Magic Theater, Building D, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $15-26; call 441-3687.
Wild and Untamed Things Polly doesn't merely want a cracker in Tony Nittoli's mixed animation/live-action short Junky; Polly needs a cracker, and a desperation to score brings the avian addict to an unhappy end. Junky plays at this month's Film Arts Foundation film and video program "Wild Kingdom," which is all about animals, and not necessarily the snuggly, adorable kind either. A claymation Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer goes to seed in Corky Quackenbush's Rudolph Trilogy, starring Rudy as boxer, Mafia don, and assassin in spoofs of Raging Bull, The Godfather, and Apocalypse Now, respectively. In Elisa Blatteis' jumpy, surreal black-and-white comedy Gorilla Girl, a gorgeous gal is transformed by a carnival sideshow act into an angry beast. Dog films have their day as well: George Kuchar's mutt innocently looks on as Kuchar describes the pooch's ignoble lineage and offers a blow-by-blow account of his nasty habits in the comic film The Mongreloid, and in the evening's main awww moment, viewers become embroiled in a staring match with two very cute puppies that peer unblinkingly into Michael Rudnick's camera in Pup y pup. The screening and beer-pouring begin at 8 p.m. at the 111 Minna Street Gallery, 111 Minna (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is $6-7: call 552-FILM.
Party People The music gets louder, the drinks get stronger, the tongues get looser, and the gloves eventually come off as the Aurora Theater stages Mike Leigh's dark comedy Abigail's Party. As with Ecstasy, the other Leigh work playing locally right now, Party (characterized by director Tom Ross as "a low-rent Absolutely Fabulous meets Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?") takes place in a British suburb in the late '70s. Beverly and her husband Laurence have invited some neighbors over for a get-acquainted cocktail party, while Abigail, the teen-age daughter of one of the neighbors, happens to be throwing her first party next door the very same night. When the noise and the antics from that party begin to build, Beverly's get-together begins to unravel, culminating in some vociferous fights about friendship and marriage. The show previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through May 3) at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant (at Ellsworth), Berkeley. Admission is $18-25; call (510) 843-4822.
Holiday! Celebrate! When Jello Biafra wasn't getting his head smacked against the ropes at Incredibly Strange Wrestling two weeks ago, playing sit-in manager for Chango Loco, he was leaning into the crowd bouncing around the stage in front of Los Infernos, whom he joined for a song. There's been no official announcement, but rumor has it that Biafra may be returning to the scene to belt out a few more with Dead Kennedys cover band Hemorrhoid in Cambodia, an L.A. outfit including Wayne Kramer and members of Magnapop, as well as former Guardian music columnist Johnny ("Pissed!") Angel. According to booker Audra Angeli-Morse, when Biafra and his ex-DK bandmates were contacted about the show, they expressed interest in attending and, if they like what they see, sitting in for a number or three. The Crosstops (whose Drinkin' Fightin' Fuckin' and Truckin' album title pretty much sums things up) and Count Dante & the Black Dragon Fighting Society share the bill, which begins at 9 p.m. at the Transmission Theater, Folsom & 11th streets, S.F. Admission is $5; call 861-6906.
Buffalo Stance Beginning with "Socks, Drugs, & Rock 'n' Roll," something about Grand Royal recording artists Buffalo Daughter sounds almost but not quite right. Maybe it's the language warp between America and Japan, where these three gals started making noise in '94 with their Cardinal release Shaggy Headdressers. Or maybe it's just the music itself, a mod, elevator-type pop Muzak that remixes Moog synthesizer burbles and blips with a collusion of bass and guitars, turntable wizardry, and snatches of samples. Sassier than their co-conspirators the Dust Brothers, more electronic than their labelmates Luscious Jackson, and more weirdly familiar than listeners might expect (think Listerine commercials and video games), Buffalo Daughter use their latest release, New Rock, to pose big philosophical-sounding questions like "What's the Trouble With My Silver Turkey?" The show begins at 9 p.m. at the Justice League, 628 Divisadero (at Hayes), S.F. Admission is $10-12; call 440-0409.