Have you ever noticed that your feelings tend to reside in your stomach? Whether it's the butterflies of love, a knot of unease, or a stitch from excessive laughter, the litmus test of emotional potency seems to be, "If your gut feels it, it's real." Mina Liccione's one-woman show, Della Pancha, pursues this edict with a zany coterie of characters who follow their instincts in search of happiness. Liccione, a 6-foot-tall slapstick beauty, bookends her vignettes with musings about her life. While some one-person shows translate into wallowing drivel, Liccione's self-deprecating humor and impressive energy keep viewers' eyes glued to the stage. She reveals a circus of uncommon characters -- a cabaret queen named Consuela Cosmetics; a doe-eyed Elvis addict; and, in the outstanding finale, a caustic street performer with a penchant for Sinatra.
Although the performer's antics are meant to elicit laughs, an underbelly of reflectiveness persists. "I wanted to expose the truth beneath the jest," says Liccione. A trained clown who's been performing since age 3, she displays the versatility of classic vaudevillians -- spinning yarns, singing, dancing, and even acting out a foul acid trip. After seeing Liccione in all her glory, your belly will feel it. Della Pancha opens Friday at 8 p.m. (and continues through April 9) at Shotwell Studios, 3252A 19th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Tickets are $10-15; call 920-2223 or visit www.ftloose.org.
-- Nirmala Nataraj
A Singular Woman
WED-THURS & SAT 3/30-31 & 4/2
Six days after she landed in Congress -- the first female elected to that body, before women could vote -- Jeannette Rankin cast her ballot against the United States entering World War I. Two decades later she was the lone dissenter against our entree into World War II. A passionate activist who fought for the rights of numerous disadvantaged groups, she's also the subject of A Single Woman, a play written by and starring Jeanmarie Simpson (one review: "intense and flawless") taking place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at three East Bay locations. Tickets are $10 (sliding scale); call (510) 587-3228 or visit www.ncmdr.org/singlewoman.html for venue details.
-- Karen Zuercher
In the much-populated yet intangible land of chat rooms, there's no telling what creep might be trading emoticons with your 12-year-old. The FBI, however, has been nabbing Internet pervs through sting operations. But are these operations effective and legally sound? Playwright Doris Baizley and lawyer Susan Raffanti take an in-depth look at the situation in the play Sexsting, part of the Magic Theatre's "Martha Heasley Cox Raw Play Series," designed to explore communication. Sexsting receives a staged reading on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Commonwealth Club, 595 Market (at Second Street), Second Floor, S.F. Tickets are free (but $12 suggested donation); call 597-6700 or visit www.commonwealthclub.org.
-- Karen Macklin
The Soviettes, besides having one of the best band names around, are everything we want in a rock act: unpretentious, highly skilled, and goofy. Those qualities are all an outfit really needs to put on the kind of high-energy, headbang-inducing shows we crave. The band certainly delivered last time it blew through town. The fact that the three ladies -- Annie, Susy, and Sturgeon -- and one dude -- Danny -- are also cute, covered in tattoos, and recently signed to Fat Wreck Chords is just icing on the garage-punk cake. The Methadones open at 9 p.m. at Thee Parkside, 1600 17th St. (at Wisconsin), S.F. Admission is $7; call 503-0393 or visit www.theeparkside.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser