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Our critics weigh in on local theater

Theodora, She-Bitch of Byzantium. Charles Busch's loving 1984 spoof of a similarly titled 19th-century melodrama by Victorien Sardou tells the story of a cross-dressed drag queen who fucks and finagles her way across 6th-century Greece until a Gypsy potion wreaks havoc on her plans. As a product of the "ridiculous theater" movement, a mid-20th-century offshoot of Dadaism, Surrealism, and the theaters of Cruelty and the Absurd, Theodora certainly wears silliness on its sleeve. Sardou wrote his version for the great stage actor Sarah Bernhardt. Busch, in turn, penned his adaptation to slake his own Bernhardt obsession. Director Russell Blackwood's somewhat slipshod pacing and rhythm prevents some of the scenes from achieving their full impact. Through Aug. 16 at the Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), S.F. Tickets are $25-$34.50; call 377-4202 or visit Reviewed July 2. 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. Through Aug. 30. Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 861-5079.

The Ballad of Edgar Cayce: A musical by Gary Aylesworth, produced by Construction Crew Theater. Through Aug. 30. Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida (at Mariposa), 522-0786.

Bay Area Rhythm Exchange: An all-star showcase of today's tap-dancers. Fri., Aug. 15; Sat., Aug. 16. Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness (at Grove), 392-4400.

Color Struck: One man's wry look at institutionalized racism. Wed., Aug. 13. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.

Emo! the Musical: A Beards Beards Beards production about angst-ridden teenagers. Through Aug. 30. $15-$30. Boxcar Playhouse, 505 Natoma (at Sixth St.), 776-1747.

Finding Ways to Prove You're NOT an Al-Qaeda Terrorist When You're Brown: Aug. 13-16, 8 p.m. Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 861-5079.

The Mikado: Gilbert and Sullivan's musical farce. Aug. 15-17. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third St.), 978-2787.

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

MUSA: An opera combined with improv. Sat., Aug. 16. CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission (at Ninth St.), 626-2060.

Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad: Sun., Aug. 17, 8 p.m. $12 advance; $15 day of show. Red Devil Lounge, 1695 Polk (at Clay), 921-1695.

The Pandora Experiment: Award-winning magician and illusionist Christian Cagigal returns. Through Aug. 16. $20. Exit Theater, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.

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

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. Through Aug. 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. Through Aug. 16. $12-$20. Shotwell Studios, 3252A 19th St. (at Folsom), 289-2000.

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