It's that smorgasbord time of year, but not all five-course spreads will provoke a loosening of your belt. Local playwright Tom W. Kelly feeds us five one-act plays for the holidays, and they're all about a subject that's more likely to make you lose weight (and sleep) than gain it: love.
"Significant Others," Kelly's collection of "gay romance" one-acts, is a good retreat in case life, reality TV, or the holidays are getting you down. The short pieces feature men of varying ages, and range from heartfelt drama to kaffeeklatsch comedy. In Faded Photographs, a pair of ex-lovers meet on a moonlit cruise two decades after a steamy affair, only to realize they've grown both older and wiser. Roadside Assistance tells the story of two young country blokes who, as they stroll an open road and weigh the situation of a broken-down truck, realize that their personal problems may be even harder to fix. Questions of fidelity come up in Twice Blessed, in which two men reveal their true selves to each other despite their lovers waiting at home. In ...Or Not to Be?, three buddies share lattes and revel in camaraderie, the glue of their otherwise uncertain lives. Finally, Kelly transports us back to that place of teenage angst, emotional embarking, and bad hair -- the prom -- in The Virgin Tango. The scene is a storeroom right off the dance floor, where two boys are falling in love. Will they take their romance out of the closet?
Feed your theater cravings with this sampling of love songs, which runs through Dec. 12 at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), S.F. Tickets are $20-40; call 861-8972 or visit www.nctcsf.org.
-- Karen Macklin
You don't get to be part of an improv troupe unless you're damn fast and damn funny. If you're part of Oui Be Negroes, then, you must be a lean, mean, laugh-generating machine: A group with 10 years of onstage antics that has traveled all over the world doesn't mess around with iffy talent. Oui Be doesn't shy away from biting commentary on racial issues, either, as the name implies. Ask if you can be an "honorary Negro." The current show, Improvadelic, has gotten great reviews; it starts at 8 p.m. both Friday and Saturday at the Climate Theater, 285 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $7-10; call 364-1411 or visit www.ouibenegroes.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Our youth was wasted in dance camp, where we were subjected to practically every kind of movement you can think of -- flamenco was far and away the hardest. So if you attend Abanicos, Theatre Flamenco's latest offering, featuring soloist Manuel Gutiérrez and singer José Cortés, don't tell yourself it's easy. The polyrhythms are viciously complicated, and the hand and foot movements are contrapuntal -- but those traditions are the heart of this time-honored form. Watch carefully at 8 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $26-37.50; call 345-7575 or visit www.theatreflamenco.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
GWARts and All
Absurdism is a long-standing tradition in the art world, but the music world has its practitioners of the bizarre, too -- and none finer than GWAR. The enigmatic metal band's performances are not for the faint of heart. We mean that. The grandfathers of throwing and spraying disgusting substances onto the audience, these musicians are known and loved for their professed mission to destroy humanity. There's nothing they won't do to offend or nauseate, making them the very best at what they do: entertain. Dying Fetus and All That Remains open at 8 p.m. at the DNA Lounge, 375 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $20-22; call 626-1409 or visit www.dnalounge.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser