The War of Art

Cultures clash in CPT's season kickoff.

The Designated Mourner Eric Matyjasik Our Lady Peace
Mental categories and social classes collide in Wallace Shawn's play of ideas.
Mental categories and social classes collide in Wallace Shawn's play of ideas.

For its first production of the fall season, Cleveland Public Theatre stages Wallace Shawn's The Designated Mourner, a debate centered on highbrow versus lowbrow art. "We're bringing up big ideas for people to think about," says artistic director Randy Rollison. The play (which opens Thursday) chronicles a futuristic and increasingly violent battle between classes, all filtered through Shawn's typically absurdist viewpoint. "It goes off on all sorts of tangents and observations," says Rollison, who plays Jack, the protagonist. "There's amazing commentary on theater and intellectuals." Ultimately, it's as much cautionary tale as twisted fable. "It's about trying to fit into a world where you just don't fit," says Rollison. "There's not a lot of action. It's a play of ideas." The Designated Mourner is at CPT's Levin Theatre (6415 Detroit Avenue) through October 22. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 to $24, available by calling 216-631-2727. -- Michael Gallucci

Run for the Borderline

WED 10/5

Eric Matyjasik refers to his stand-up routine as "borderline humor." We won't argue with him. Example: "Dude, if you were with me right now, you'd probably smell the fat chick still on me." While he plans to turn pro someday, the 23-year-old hopeful has a day job in the promotions department at WXTM-FM 92.3 and WNCX-FM 98.5, and works the door at the Cleveland Improv three nights a week. On Wednesday, he opens for Kent's Dave Kerkel at Bassa Vita's weekly Grimey Ninety comedy show, where he'll crack on love, marriage, and his sexual fantasies involving Amish girls. "Know what the best thing about them is?" asks Matyjasik. "You don't need lubrication, because they're always churning butter." Show time is 10 p.m. at Bassa Vita, 1572 West 117th Street in Lakewood. Admission is free; call 216-521-4386. -- Cris Glaser

Oh . . . Canada

SAT 10/1

The Canadians are coming! Modern-rock vets Our Lady Peace and relative newcomers Danko Jones lead an assault of buzzing pop choruses (OLP) and Thin Lizzy-style guitar licks (Danko Jones) at the Agora Theatre on Saturday. It's a fitting combo: The insular rock-star bluster of Danko Jones' appropriately titled We Sweat Blood gives way to OLP's universal anthems on Healthy in Paranoid Times, with subtle shifts in tone and 'tude. North-of-the-border rock might be paradoxical, but these two bands do their best to dispel our prejudices. They're at the Agora (5000 Euclid Avenue) at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25; call 216-241-5555. -- Michael Gallucci

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