The Bureau of Aging and Growth (BAG) is hearing the cases of five women who want to be certified or reinstated to adult status.

While they recount their life histories as evidence in support of their applications, the performers on stage are asking the audience just what is the definition of adulthood.

In "It's About Time," an improvisational and collaborative theater-piece, the Pro Femina Theatre shows that a serious question can be asked in an entertaining way.

Now in its third year, the Pro Femina ensemble, whose members draw from their own personal experiences in working up sketches, explored the mother-daughter relationship in its last three productions.

"It's About Time" is a welcome change. This time there is more humor and a bite of satire as the actors examine what it takes to meet the qualifications for adulthood -- as least as defined by bureaucratic BAG.

The question is asked in different ways by each of the five cast members: Nancy Baines Castle, Leslie Bravman Jacobson, Carole Myers, Rosemary Murphy Walsh and Sarah Toth Yochum.

All have credits as performers or writers in television and experimental or university theater. And they know how to create theatrical tricks to explore a serious subject.

There is Sarah, whose Raggedy Ann doll nags her about wasting time while on a leave of absence. Rosemary, who has been charged with escapism, voices her inner thoughts underneath the surface bright chatter at a business cocktail party.

Nancy, who has changed images like a fashion model changes outfits, seems to have lived the quotation on the program: "Sometimes I feel my lift is just a phase I'm going through."

"It seems that there was a piece of me in each one of you," a member of the audience said after a performance of "It's About Time" last Saturday. The cast follows each performance with an invitation for open discussion with the audience.

There are many recognizable types -- including Leslie, the pushed and pushing young woman with talent who won't admit that she wants to slow down, on Carol, always self-effacing, picking up pieces for others.

"It's About Time" will be performed tonight through Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at the Market 5 Gallery in the Eastern Market. There also will be a performance at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Pro Femina will move to the Washington Project for the Arts, 1227 G St. NW., for performances at 8 p.m. on Nov. 1, 2 and 3.