NEW THIS WEEK

CHILDREN WITH STONES -- (Through Dec. 15 at Source Theatre)

Showing us the people behind the headlines in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, local writer and musician Roy Barber encourages us to recognize the validity of each side's arguments and urges a peaceful resolution of what seems to be an unresolvable problem. Characters tell their stories through songs, most of them dark, melancholy melodies in the tradition of Jacques Brel or Elizabeth Swados. If passion were all that was needed to perform this show, the cast would be well abreast of its demands. Bari Biern, Scott Sedar, Lisette LeCompte and Carlos Juan Gonzales sing powerfully and communicate the emotional intensity of their respective roles as an American teacher, an Arab couple and an older Israeli. It is, however, difficult to keep the many characters and their myriad alliances and tragedies straight; as a result, some songs are hard to follow. And while details give Barber's work a potent ring of authenticity, it falls short of the emotional wallop it would like to pack: The conflict it confronts is so huge, it's hard to contain it on stage. -- Megan Rosenfeld

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW -- (Through Dec. 2 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre)

Anyone who goes to this little shop of hormonal horror should check his adulthood at the door. This musical became the cult movie "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," patronized to this day by people who like to go to movies at midnight and yell at the screen. What's interesting is yelling at real people 10 feet away from you. This play introduces, delightfully, the notion of anarchy: The audience is expected, even encouraged, to throw things onstage at appropriate moments and to yell rude, even lewd, comments at the actors. The catch is you can use only the theater's pre-approved prop kit, which you can buy for $3 -- a pretty good deal, but it still feels like someone's trying to control your spontaneity. Nonetheless, there's a lot of ridiculous amusement to be had here, if you can handle priapic humor and pan-sexual horseplay. Dr. Frank N. Furter (played with relish by Grover Gardner) looks like Rosalind Russell after a shopping spree at Frederick's of Hollywood. The entire cast is wonderfully loony, the set appropriately tacky and the costumes a tour de force. The music is lively and heavily influenced by early rock 'n' roll, which is fine with me. Did I forget the plot? Oops. You'll just have to see for yourself. - M.R.