Theater sampler 

January plays appeal to all possible tastes

Just as everyone overindulges on eggnog and holiday food in December, theaters seek to cleanse their aesthetic palates in January. This month features choices for every possible taste (or lack thereof), ranging from the sacred (C.S. Lewis on Stage) to the profane (Karen Finley's George and Martha). Consider this overview the equivalent to the sample spoonfuls served by ice cream parlors to whet your appetite and help make up your mind.

Leaving Limbo

Writer: Valetta Anderson

Plot: Modern-day hip-hop artist Chuck (Greg Holmes) gets a first-hand history lesson when he travels back in time and space to encounter the tribal women of pre-1500s northern Nigeria.

Look for: Clashing concepts of African and African-American identity

Quote: When Chuck admits he doesn't do much with his life, a tribal leader (Yvonne Singh) tells him, "Well, go do nothing some place else."

Fun fact: Local writer Anderson shares Essential Theatre's 2006 Playwriting Prize with Charm School playwrights Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee.

Essential Theatre, Jan. 5-29 (in repertory), 7 Stages Back Stage Theatre. 1105 Euclid Ave. $15-$35. 404-523-7647. www.essentialtheatre.com.

The Book of Liz

Writers: Amy and David Sedaris

Plot: Liz (Rachel Craw), a member of an Amish-esque religious sect called The Squeamish, abandons her life of making cheese balls to seek her fortune in the modern world.

Look for: Bizarre comedic caricatures

Quote: "An operation? Can't you just use leeches?" asks Liz when faced with a medical problem.

Fun fact: Siblings Amy and David Sedaris, nicknamed "The Talent Family," are creators of, respectively, "Strangers with Candy" and The Santaland Diaries.

Essential Theatre, Jan. 9-29 (in repertory), 7 Stages Back Stage Theatre. 1105 Euclid Ave. $15-$35. 404-523-7647. www.essentialtheatre.com.

C.S. Lewis on Stage

Writer: C.S. Lewis

Plot: Performer Tom Key recently updated his one-man show based on the autobiography, letters and other writings of C.S. Lewis, renowned Oxford don and sensible, pro-Christian writer.

Watch for: Christian faith brought down to earth

Quote: "Pain is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

Fun fact: C.S. Lewis wrote such kid-friendly Narnia books as The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, the basis of the current hit film.

Theatrical Outfit, Jan. 11-22, Balzer Theatre, 84 Luckie St. $19.44-$43.20. 678-528-1500. www.theatricaloutfit.org.

George and Martha

Writer: Karen Finley

Plot: A kind of live-action political cartoon in which Martha Stewart (writer/director Karen Finley) and George W. Bush (Neal Medlyn) meet in a hotel room for an increasingly crazed and kinky extramarital fling.

Look for: Surreal leftist politics, nudity

Quote: "Does Clinton have a crook in his cock?"

Fun fact: Finley was one of the NEA Four, whose National Endowment of the Arts grants were vetoed in 1990 for "indecency."

7 Stages, Jan. 12-15, 1105 Euclid Ave. $20-$32. 404-523-7647. www.7stages.org.

Charm School

Writers: Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee

Plot: Two Southern pals (Daniel Burnley and Joseph Leonard) find themselves over their heads when forced to attend their company's Diversity Sensitivity Training seminar.

Look for: Satire of both stubborn good ol' boys and institutional political correctness

Quote: Ray remarks, "They think I'm the redneck racist bastard who's still lynching Negroes and driving around with a rifle in the back window of his pick-up truck." When his friend points out that he does have a rifle in his truck, Ray protests, "Under the seat!"

Fun fact: As the driving forces of the Southern Theatre Conspiracy in the 1980s, Larson and Lee were the clown princes of Atlanta theater.

Essential Theatre, Jan. 13-29 (in repertory), 7 Stages Back Stage Theatre. 1105 Euclid Ave. $15-$35. 404-523-7647. www.essentialtheatre.com.

Pride & Prejudice

Writer: Jane Austen, channeled by playwright Jon Jory

Plot: Bright, bookish Elizabeth Bennet (Julia Dion) finds herself falling for the socially graceless, stinking rich Mr. Darcy (Anthony Marble) in a world premiere adaptation of Austen's best-known novel.

Quote: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

Look for: Empire-waisted gowns, extreme matchmaking

Fun rumor: Writer/director Jon Jory is strongly suspected of penning acclaimed plays under the pseudonym of Jane Martin.

Alliance Theatre, Jan. 11-Feb. 12, 1280 Peachtree St. $20-$50. 404-733-5000. www.alliancetheatre.org.

Love Jerry

Writer/composer: Megan Gogerty

Plot: In this musical set to folksy, Americana-style melodies, the relationship between two brothers (David Silverman and Bryan Davis) is put to the test when one is accused of child molestation.

Quote: We are different, we are just the same / We're connected by more than just a name. / If you hurt yourself you'll feel my pain, sing the brothers in an early duet.

Look for: A capella singing, careful handling of potentially explosive material

Fun fact: Actor's Express artistic director Jasson Minadakis discovered Love Jerry when the play was one of the finalists of the Alliance Theatre's first Graduate Playwriting Competition in 2004.

Actor's Express, Jan. 22-Feb. 25, 887 W. Marietta St. $10.75-$26.75. 404-607-7469. www.actors-express.com.

Waiting for Godot

Not I, Endgame

Writer: Samuel Beckett

Plots: Theatre Gael's Waiting for Godot depicts two slapstick tramps (John Stephens and Nick Rhoton) who await an elusive potential savior named Godot. PushPush Theatre's Endgame considers a master and servant who wait for nothing in particular while considering the apocalypse outside their window. In PushPush's Not I, a mad woman (Park Krausen), with only her mouth visible, delivers a monologue describing her plight.

Look for: Seeing nothing made out of something

Quote: "They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more," from Waiting for Godot

Fun fact: The Theatre Gael and PushPush productions mark the beginning of Atlanta theater's "Year of Beckett" productions. Don't expect a lot of laughs.

Waiting for Godot, Theatre Gael, Jan. 27-March 5, 14th Street Playhouse, 173 14th St. $16-$22. 404-733-4750. www.theatregael.com. Endgame and Not I, PushPush Theatre, Jan. 20-Feb. 18. 121 New St., Decatur. $12-$16. 404-377-6332, www.pushpushtheater.com

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