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WOMEN ON TOP, pH Productions, at Stage Left Theatre. Nine women blend raw personal monologues with quick-witted improv in this feisty, funny show. They start by introducing themselves during a modern-dance parody, dressed all in black and swirling their arms. Then they ask the audience creative questions like "What's your favorite sea creature?" and "What happens after you die?" Our answers are turned into monologues, the monologues turn into sometimes earnest, sometimes silly discussions by the troupe, and the discussions become rapid two- and three-person scenes.

The scenes are often dazzling, incorporating references to politics, religion, sports, race, and the performers' own experiences. The sharpest improvisers are Robyn Scott, Jinx Holesha, and Kristine Kitts: their fierce humor teeters on the brink of offensiveness without crossing over into it.

Attencion!, directed by Sean Cusick, precedes Women on Top. Tony Janning and Micah Philbrook morph from character to character as they sketch odd relationships: a father firing his slacker son, two drunk elementary schoolkids, a boy with Tourette's syndrome and his mother. The show doesn't cohere, but it's strangely satisfying--a worthy warm-up.

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