Our critics weigh in on local theater

Miss-Matches.com: Sex, Lies and Instant Messaging! "I'm barfing out the story — unabridged!" That's how actor and writer Leslie Beam explains it in her one-woman show Miss-Matches.com. This self-declared "queen of cyberland" takes us on a 66-minute journey through a small sampling of more than 300 badly matched Internet dates after the breakup of her 13-year marriage (he was obsessed with football and bong rips; she was consumed with computer-sex chat rooms). Beam gets props for hanging out her dirty laundry: Onstage she brandishes her favorite sex toys (including a 3-foot-long Black & Decker vibrator), shows us dungeon floggings, makes fun of gimp-armed lovers, complains about fat people, and confesses to multiple dates with a convict tattooed with the words "white pride." Any sympathy she generates sours when she lightheartedly reveals her prejudice, recounting her ghastly treatment of an innocent date solely because he was black. She doesn't delve into her discrimination or give it any particular reason or depth; she simply tries for a laugh. Later she turns down another black cybersuitor, responding that she hasn't yet "exhausted the entire pool of eligible white men." In trying to illuminate the human and humorous side of Internet dating, Beam delivers a one-dimensional portrayal of herself and caricatures of her dates, seeming intent on proving that the Web is filled with a disproportionate number of weirdos and psychos. Through July 1 at the Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), S.F. Tickets are $15-20; call 820-1454 or visit www.miss-matches.com. (Nathaniel Eaton) Reviewed March 1.

Shove. Never trust a group of 12 people who aren't smart enough to get out of jury duty — and certainly don't trust a woman who wants to be on jury duty for the rest of her life. In the uneven Shove, we learn that recent juror Genette had a transformative experience convincing her fellow jurors that the defendant, Lowell, wasn't guilty of shoving a woman in front of an oncoming subway car. She's so proud of her accomplishment that she grabs her "peer," Sheldon, and tracks Lowell down to relive all the good times. The problem is that Genette has a thing for wacko loner psychopaths, and Lowell might just be crazy enough to murder someone. This is a show about the isolated, silently suffering members of the working class and the desperation of urban runaways who can't run away from themselves. It's fertile territory, and the best moments of Shove summon a compelling menace out of everyday activities — giving a hug, waiting for public transpo. The director keeps things brisk, and the well-cast actors appear committed; the catch is that the playwright and the production can't find a consistent tone. Ostensibly, Shove is a dark comedy, but the comedic elements dissipate any dramatic stakes (and vice versa). Ultimately, we're not able to overcome our doubt — reasonable or otherwise. Through May 13 at Off-Market Theaters, Stage 205, 965 Mission (between Fifth and Sixth Sts.), S.F. Tickets are $15-20; call 896-6477 or visit www.offmarkettheater.com. (Frank Wortham) Reviewed May 3.

Also Playing

Beach Blanket Babylon Club Fugazi, 678 Green (at Powell), 421-4222.

Beauty and the Breast Exit Theatre on Taylor, 277 Taylor (at Ellis), 673-3847.

Best of PlayGround 10 Zeum Theater, 221 Fourth St. (at Howard), 820-3320.

Beyond Therapy Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 433-1226.

Circus Showcase 2006 Project Artaud Theater, 450 Florida (at 17th St.), 626-4370.

The Devil on All Sides Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida (at Mariposa), 285-8282.

Don Q Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa (at Florida), 621-7978.

Family Alchemy: Malamud and Paley Stories on Stage Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson (at Front), 788-7469.

Farewell to the Tooth Fairy Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 896-6477.

The Glass Menagerie Berkeley Repertory's Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley, 510-647-2949.

Gnome CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission (at Ninth St.), 626-2060.

Hit It Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, 620 Sutter (at Mason), 474-8800.

Imagination Unleashed Blue Bear Performance Hall, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina & Buchanan, 885-5678.

"Intrigue in the Mansion: Murder Mystery Dinner" The Archbishop's Mansion, 1000 Fulton (at Steiner), 563-7872.

Long Christmas Ride Home Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina & Buchanan, 441-8822.

Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me Curran Theatre, 445 Geary (between Taylor and Mason), 551-2000.

My Girl Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, 620 Sutter (at Mason), 474-8800.

A Number Geary Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), 749-2228.

The Passion of the Crawford Empire Plush Room, York Hotel, 940 Sutter (at Hyde), 885-2800.

Schonberg Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 861-5079.

Small Tragedy Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley, 510-843-4822.

Talking With Angels The Actors Center of San Francisco, 3012 16th St. (at Mission), 389-8975.

Valhalla New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972.

Winnie the Pooh Fort Mason, Bldg. C, Marina & Buchanan.

Women on the Edge Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy (between Taylor & Mason), 673-3847.

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