Just Desserts

Ah, frippery. Light as whipped cream, sparkling as champagne, frivolous as a Rococco ceiling, Beaumarchais' Figaro spices the Loeb mainstage

Ah, frippery. Light as whipped cream, sparkling as champagne, frivolous as a Rococco ceiling, Beaumarchais' Figaro spices the Loeb mainstage this weekend. Intellectual content? Probably very little (but if you need an excuse to gambol the first weekend of Reading Period, try to trace the Moliere influences). Scholarly substance? Come now (though if you insist, this was the primary source for both Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro" and Rossini's "Barber of Seville"). Profundity? Not a smidgen, I hope. But for you brain-becobwebbed hordes, here's energy and elegance, a jewel-box set and pure Goya costumes, zip and charm and beguiling idiocy... tonight through Sunday at 8; call 864-2630 for ticket information.

If you prefer your history philosophized rather than wrapped up in a candy-box, Camus' Caligula, an existentialist interpretation of a period of Roman history, bows at the Loeb Ex Monday through Wednesday. The play centers on an emperor, Caligula, and his use of power to obtain unbridled freedom for himself at the expense of others; the approach taken by director Vicente Castro in his last Loeb production has been described as "primitivistic-futuristic." 7:30 p.m. is the chosen hour to indulge in perplexity (tickets are free, and available beginning at noon on the day of performance.)

The Changeling is not a tame play--by the end of this Jacobean tragedy, only half the cast is left, the rest done in by knife, pistol or suicide. If your taste for violence isn't jaded by the glut on TV. you may find the 17th-century's approach more tasteful. The Leverett House production is fast-moving, and the actors fill it with moments of genuine horror and occasional humor as well. The Changeling is playing at the Leverett Theater tonight, Friday and Saturday (April 27, 28, and 29) at 8 p.m., with a midnight show on the 28th.

A disastrous opening night caused Gilbert's and Sullivan's Ruddigore to become known as "the unlucky opera." Harvard, however, is lucky to have it, thanks to a particularly fine production by the Gilbert and Sullivan players. As we've been telling you for two weeks now, it's both a supernatural opera and a melodramatic satire. It teems with mad love-sick girls and baronets in disguise and family curses and portraits that come to life. Despite the absence of the celebrated Gilbert and Sullivan social wit and a rather abrupt finale, the show is as visually dazzling as it is technically brilliant. Sully Bonn's direction provides both spine-tingling and spine-tickling moments, and costumes and sets are executed with the customary G & S expertise. But enough of this undignified gushing. Simply see it if you can. Ruddigore plays tonight, Friday and Saturday at Agassiz Theatre; tickets available at the door or at the Holyoke box office.

Measure for Measure has traditionally been considered a "problem" play--it's boxed with the comedies, but the dark undertones are much in evidence--yet it's the premiere choice for Harvard's newest theatrical organization, the Harvard Shakespeare Theater. The Theater was formed to fill what "Measure's" executive producer, John Cooper, calls "a gap in Harvard theater," a place for solid, interpretive performances of Shakespeare and other classics. When Cooper says "interpretive," he clearly means it--after all, Shakespeare's Viennese setting of the play has been switched to the nineteenth century, because Cooper feels it's a closer-to-home example of a corrupt society under a veneer of propriety such as that in which the play unfolds. Besides corruption, "Measure for Measure" deals with questions of power and politics, mistaken identity and the discovery of one's sexuality--a heady mixture, no doubt, no matter where it's set. At the Hasty Pudding Theater, 12 Holyoke Street, tonight through Sunday at 8, matinee Saturday at 2. Tickets at the Box Office (495-3098).

Rome and Louis XV France and Jacobean England and Renaissance Vienna... another Harvard musical confection is modern in comparison. I say "in comparison," because some may consider any play dealing with the Washington Senators to be just this side of ancient history. Never mind--Damn Yankees may be dated, but it boasts tunes like "You've Gotta Have Heart," "Whatever Lola Wants," "The Good Old Days" and "Goodbye Old Girl," which is more than you can say of the Globe sports pages. As you might expect, a show mixing Faust and the Yankees was combustible stuff on Broadway--one of its longest-running shows, in fact. Maybe the Devil helped light the fire. At any rate, this wacky gem bodes well (or should I say evilly?) to make a spirited evening (one hell of a pun, no?). At Eliot House Dining Hall, tonight through Saturday at 8; tickets at Holyoke Center or at the door.