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Our critics weigh in on local theater

Red State. The San Francisco Mime Troupe's latest politically charged musical comedy tackles its worthy subject — citizens must hold government responsible for how their tax dollars are spent — with its usual cheeky pluck. Yet overall the show fails to deliver either a rousing call to arms or a satisfying theatrical tale. On the theatrical front, this 90-minute show takes more than 30 minutes to get off the ground. We spend a lot of time simply hanging out with the hardscrabble folk of Bluebird, Kansas, learning about each one of them in painstaking detail before we get to the meat of the plot: It's Election Day 2008, the rest of the country has voted itself into a dead heat, and only Bluebird's votes can break the tie. Very few people in this country need to be told what hangs in the balance based on what Bluebird does, and yet the story quickly becomes not about the power of the vote but the power of not voting at all. Huh? Through Sept. 28 at parks and public sites across the Bay Area. Free; call 285-1717 or visit (Molly Rhodes) Reviewed July 9.

Yellowjackets. Set in 1994 at the dramatist's alma mater, Berkeley High, Itamar Moses' world premiere at Berkeley Rep explores how a bunch of teenagers attempt to cope with a rash of unsettling upheavals that threaten to rupture school life. When a fight breaks out between rival gangs, Berkeley High's leaders decide to instigate a closed-campus policy. Random, unprovoked altercations escalate across campus; the school newspaper comes under fire for running a racially incendiary article; disagreements over plans to abolish the school's tracking program on socioeconomic grounds further hamper students' ability to concentrate on their schoolwork. Over the course of two and a half hours, we get to know and empathize with a cast of contrasting characters, thanks to Moses' wide-ranging ear for dialogue; the whiplash, MTV-paced movement of director Tony Taccone's mise-en-scène; and the energy of the young, mostly Bay Area–based ensemble cast. Through Oct. 12 at Berkeley Rep, 2025 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley. Tickets are $13.50-$71; call 510-647-2949 or visit (Chloe Veltman) Reviewed Sept. 17.

All You Can Eat (the comeback tour): A play that reveals the backstage antics of a band's reunion tour, performed by the FoolsFury ensemble. Through Oct. 11. Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida (at Mariposa), 522-0786.

A Bronx Tale: Oscar-nominated actor Chazz Palminteri wrote and stars in this one-man play. Through Oct. 19. Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor (at Market), 512-7770.

The History Boys: A drama by Alan Bennett about eight English schoolboys vying for admittance to prestigious universities. Through Oct. 26. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972.

Irma La Douce: 42nd Street Moon presents the 1960 Parisian musical comedy. Sept. 25-Oct. 12. Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson (at Front), 788-7469.

K of D, an urban legend: Charlotte is a small-town Midwestern girl with a chilling ability: she can give the "K of D," or "kiss of death." Sept. 27-Oct. 19. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina & Buchanan, 441-8822.

Moby Dick: The Musical: When a financial crisis hits their school, the girls of St. Godley's Academy for Young Ladies decide to mount a musical version of Moby Dick. Through Oct. 12. Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 861-5079.

More Stories by Tobias Wolff: Presented by Word for Word. Through Oct. 5. $22-$75. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina & Buchanan, 441-8822.

Of Mice and Men: Directed by Keith Phillips and Phaedra Starr. Sept. 25-Nov. 29. Actors Theatre San Francisco, 855 Bush (at Taylor), 345-1287.

One-Man Star Wars Trilogy: Charles Ross' comic one-man re-creation. Sept. 25-Oct. 12. Post Street Theatre, 450 Post (at Mason), 321-2900.

Rock 'n' Roll: Tom Stoppard's Tony Award–nominated play about Prague's rock revolution. Through Oct. 12. $17-$82. American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), 749-2228.

Snow White: A riotous spoof by Stephanie Temple. In this version, Snow White is a fired barmaid who stumbles into the cottage of a very rude Dwarf family. Through Oct. 19. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972.

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