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Our critics weigh in on local theater

What You Will. At the start of his Shakespeare-infused solo show, venerable English thespian Roger Rees saunters onstage with Shakespeare's bust tucked under his arm, which he carefully places on a plinth. Lit like the Crown Jewels, the Bard's head remains a permanent fixture throughout the performance. Yet as much as Rees demonstrates his love for the dramatist throughout the crowd-pleasing 90-minute production, he's quick to pull the Bard off his pedestal. "Your plays kind of suck, actually," the actor says, reading from an exercise book filled with quotes by Shakespeare-hating high schoolers culled from the Internet. Rees reserves equal amounts of comical disrespect for his early spear-carrying days at the Royal Shakespeare Company (of which he was a member for 22 years). Yet Rees has clearly been living with Shakespeare's language for too long. He seems to forget that people need to decipher the words in order to keep up. Through Aug. 9 at American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary (at Taylor), S.F. Tickets are $20-$85; call 749-2228 or visit (C.V.) Reviewed July 30. Burlesque, video, opera, show tunes, and old films combine in this show by Stephen Lawson and Aaron Pollard. Through Aug. 31. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972.

Bad Habits: Square MaMa presents a play about bad habits, written by Terrence McNally. Aug. 8-30. Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 861-5079.

Ballad of Edgar Cayce: A musical by Gary Aylesworth, produced by Construction Crew Theater. Aug. 8-30. Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida (at Mariposa), 285-8282.

Beauty and the Beast: A RubberMatchSeriez production, adapted by Rey Carolino. Sat., Aug. 9. Shotwell Studios, 3252A 19th St. (at Folsom), 289-2000.

Brand New Me!: Connie Champagne interprets Dusty Springfield. Through Aug. 10, 2 p.m. $18-$28. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972.

Emo! the Musical: A Beards Beards Beards production about angst-ridden teenagers. Aug. 7-30. Boxcar Playhouse, 505 Natoma (at Sixth St.), 776-1747.

Fool for Love: Jean Shelton directs Sam Shepard's play. Through Sept. 6. $10-$30. Actors Theatre San Francisco, 855 Bush (at Taylor), 345-1287.

The Last Voyage of the Omega: Through Aug. 9, 10:15 p.m. $12. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell).

Misery: Simon Moore's adaption of the Stephen King book. Through Aug. 16. Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson (at Front), 788-7469.

The Pandora Experiment: Award-winning magician and illusionist Christian Cagigal returns with his popular show. Through Aug. 16. $20. Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy (between Taylor & Mason), 673-3847.

Pride & Succubus: A comedy about vampires from the Thunderbird Theatre Company. Aug. 7-23. New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom (at Eighth St.), 626-5416.

Skittish: Six one-acts by Bruce Moody. Through Aug. 31. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell).

Stories High Showcase 2008: A showcase from the year's crop of writing, acting, and directing workshop participants. Through Aug. 16. Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth St. (at Howard), 974-1167.

Subrosa-Subliminal Joy, the Ego out-ted!: A work of queer theory, human consciousness, and self-identity, directed by Peter Griggs and presented by the Burning Monk Collective. Aug. 7-17. $20. Mama Calizo's Voice Factory, 1519 Mission (at Van Ness), 690-9410.

This Is the Thing: Kirk Read's semi-experimental autobiographical one-man show about religion and sex work. Aug. 7-16. $12-$20. Shotwell Studios, 3252A 19th St. (at Folsom), 289-2000.

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