Meatball Hero 

It has Impact

11/5-12/11

You could be forgiven for thinking superheroes are all the rage these days. There's a teenage Superman going through growing pains on TV's Smallville. All over Hollywood, matinee idols are donning skin-tight fighting togs, whether for good (Spider-Man 2) or for ill (Catwoman). You might think they could quit their day job, but it's closer to the truth to say their day job has quit them. Superhero comics are still written for a teenage audience, but teenagers don't read comics anymore, so our heroes have to turn elsewhere -- to the big and small screens, to the video games that have supplanted their old haunts, to toys and T-shirts, and now to live theater. Not that they have much to do in Meanwhile, Back at the Super Lair ... , Greg Kalleres' comedy, whose West Coast premiere Impact Theatre tackles on Friday (the same day Pixar puts its higher-profile pixelated spin on long-underwear types gone flabby in The Incredibles). There's been no crime in Sate City for about a decade, which is a damn good thing because the city's protectors, the Super Tribe, don't actually have any superpowers and only managed to clean up the town the first time around because they got lucky. So all the Human Fly, Silver Streak, Rhino Man, and Leopard Woman do is rest on their laurels -- and their duffs -- and get up to cash their paychecks every couple weeks. But now they face two powerful new enemies: a new supervillain called the Eidolon and, more fearsome yet, a municipal efficiency expert threatening to derail their gravy train.

Now in its ninth season, Impact Theatre specializes in scrappy new comedies such as this one -- which, along with 2000's The Wake-Up Crew makes the La Val's troupe-in-residence the self-proclaimed "go-to theater company for superhero action plays." (You might say superheroes put the S back in "scrappy," but in fact the troupe's recent non-spandex-related offerings have been pretty solid too.) It also excels at providing theater lively and pop-culture-drenched enough for the 18-to-35 set at ticket prices they can afford: $15 general, $10 students and seniors, Thursdays pay what you wish. The battle rages Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., November 5 through December 11 (no show on Thanksgiving), at stately La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Avenue, Berkeley. 510-464-4468 or ImpactTheatre.com-- Sam Hurwitt

Sun 11/7

Raz-Berries

Circus goes to school

Clown, actor, and big-top veteran Jeff Raz has been a Bay Area fixture in the Pickle Family Circus, but for Sunday afternoon's Circus for Arts in the Schools, he's on a mission to help education. Bothered by budget cutbacks that cause schools to drop arts programs, Raz and acrobats, clowns, jugglers, magicians, musicians, and dancers from Cirque du Soleil, Make*A*Circus, and the Trisha Brown Dance Company are putting on a benefit show for Paden Elementary School at 3 p.m. Sunday at Alameda's Kofman Auditorium, 2200 Central Ave. More info: FriendsofPaden.org -- Kelly Vance

Sat 11/6

Seeing Red

Q. What has red hair, twenty fingers, and craves electricity? A. Pianists Sarah Cahill and Kathleen Supové. Ms. Cahill (an East Bay resident who occasionally writes for the Express) is best known for championing the New American Music of such composers as John Adams, Lou Harrison, and Pauline Oliveros. The experimentally minded Ms. Supové isn't afraid of using computer-generated sounds in her "Exploding Piano" concerts. Together, they're 2 Redheads & 88 Solenoids, and they play Saturday night (8 p.m.) at the Berkeley Arts Festival Gallery, 2324 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. Tickets: $12. For info: 415-285-8680.-- Kelly Vance

Sun 7/11

China Dolls

San Francisco's Chinese Folk Dance Association has been promoting Chinese culture through performances and classes since 1959. But for a nonprofit organization so old, it has a surprising amount of spring in its steps, largely because of the constant influx of new members, some no more than four years old. You can bet quite a few of these little bundles of dance will be a part of the company's performances this Sunday at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. The group hits the boards at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m., and the shows are included in the $6 admission fee. And remember: no adult admitted without a child, and versa vice-a. Info: Fairyland.org, 510-452-2259. -- Stefanie Kalem

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