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Splathouse Double Feature with The Sadist and Eegah!

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Aug. 9
510-464-4468
Impact Theatre’s Splathouse Double Feature with The Sadist and Eegah! is many things — a film, a live performance, a recreation of two real, cheesy, low-budget horror flicks from the Sixties, and a parody of those flicks. It’s sort of Mystery Science Theater 3000-esque, but with theatrics in place of the humorous commentary. As a production, Splathouse involves the most mockable elements from B movies — the overacting, the discontinuity of scenes, the crappy special effects, etc. — and combines them with a thespian’s flair. While Splathouse’s re-envisioning of two silly horror films is certainly tackled with eye-bulging aplomb, the rub is that they don’t take it far enough. In the first play, The Sadist, partly, this is the fault of the original film itself, which is generally lauded as a decent thriller for its time. Plus, the film enjoys cinematography by one of the most influential Directors of Photography in history, Vilmos Zsigmond. In other words, it was perhaps not very amenable to satirical reshaping as a condensed play. Eegah!, Splathouse’s second feature, does this much better. The opportunities for humor were rife, and live show directors P.D. and the Bug took full advantage of the film’s circus-y overcompensation. The screening portions of the production, while perhaps ultimately unnecessary, were spot-on, and Edwin Fernando Gonzalez captured the mise-en-scènes faithfully, down to the creepy black-and-white close-ups of The Sadist and Eegah!’s color-saturated California landscapes. And the cheesy props and amateurish acting all add to the production’s entertaining spoofiness. All in all, Splathouse is a fun, if at times lightweight, riff on a bygone movie genre that lends itself well to theatrics, silliness, and lowbrow shock value. $10-$25
LaVal's Subterranean Theatre 1834 Euclid Ave., Berkeley (map)

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Soapbox

Through Aug. 10
510-644-6893
Named for the makeshift podiums used to preach opinions, the Berkeley Art Center’s (1275 Walnut St.) current juried exhibition aims to offer artists a similar kind of outlet. Jurors Steven Wolf and Boots Riley (yes, of The Coup) chose sixteen artists whose submissions were both visually arresting and politically conscious. The collection of works do preach, but in a way that involves the viewer in contemplative dialogue, asking them to decipher the ambiguities of each piece. A series of three paintings by Nick Randhawa, titled “Think Different,” is the most interactive. On the surface, the paintings show cleanly executed iPhone advertisement imagery, yet when the viewer uses red-tinted glasses, the layers below reveal images of factory workers and collaged documents that allude to a darker reality. Nicki Green’s sculpture, “The Revolution Will Be Earthenware,” is another standout piece. It consists of a collection of ceramic vessels that superficially resemble traditional Chinese vases, but upon closer inspection, reveal paintings of important moments in LGBT history. With a handkerchief stuffed in the top of each — like a Molotov cocktail — the works are simultaneously fragile and dangerous, commonplace and radical. free
Berkeley Art Center 1275 Walnut St. (in Live Oak Park), Berkeley (map)

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Xtreme Bugs

, Through Sept. 1
510-642-5133
Often thought of as creepy, crawly creatures that serve no purpose other than grossing people out, insects tend to be underappreciated. However, a new exhibit at the Lawrence of Hall Science (1 Centennial Dr., Berkeley), Xtreme Bugs, highlights the powerful role insects play in our lives through their impact on food production, medicine, and the environment. Viewers can see insects’ anatomy from a new angle by checking out the giant, mechanical bug replicas and then can watch some live critters — including an emperor scorpion, a tarantula, and a giant Madagascar hissing cockroach — in action. On Saturday, opening day, entomology researchers will be on hand to explain their work and share startling facts about insects (for example, one out of every three bites of food we eat is the result of bee pollination). In addition to the educational component, participants can race cockroaches through mazes, try on a robotic scorpion tail, and try to follow an ant trail using only their noses.
Lawrence Hall of Science 1 Centennial Dr., Berkeley (map)

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