Cal Shakes goes back to the Golden Age of Spanish drama with Life Is a Dream.
Frederick Douglass meets Donald Rumsfeld in Andrew Saito’s Mount Misery.
Paris youth are revolting in Cutting Ball’s verbose dystopian French play. My review‘s in the Marin Independent Journal.
Marin Theatre Company’s Lasso of Truth seems like it was pretty much made for me. It’s a play about the creator of Wonder Woman (and his wife and their lover), as well as the cultural legacy of America’s favorite superheroine. And yeah, I’m pretty much in the bag for that one from the start. But at the same time I’m a pretty tough room, because I know things about Wonder Woman, to put it mildly. I’d pretty much have to, writing about her past adventures every week.
Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi can be an irritating classic. A seminal avant-garde work that informed later movements such as Surrealism and the Theatre of the Absurd, Ubu famously set off a riot at its 1896 premiere in Paris with its first line: “Merdre,” a mutated French cuss word with an extra letter, often translated as “Pshit” or “Shittr” in English (“Tashit” in the new Cutting Ball Theater version). The titular Father Ubu says that phrase over and over in the play, along with other nonsensical oaths such as “By my green candle!” The humor is scatological and often silly, the plot—such as it is—meandering. An absurd parody of Macbeth with stray elements of other Shakespeare plays, it features the childish and gluttonous Father Ubu murdering the king of Poland to seize power, and then killing all the other nobles and taking all their money.
Gidion’s Knot is a hard play to take. As seen in director Jon Tracy’s brutally effective Bay Area premiere staging at Aurora Theatre Company, Johnna Adams’s drama is 75 minutes of nonstop tension, alleviated only by moments of grim humor.
It’s a madhouse. When you enter the Exit on Taylor to see Cutting Ball Theater’s world premiere of Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night by the company’s new resident playwright, Andrew Saito, there’s all kinds of unnerving behavior going on. There’s a legless old man in a wheelchair (David Sinaiko) hollering at people in a gravelly voice. Growling sounds pervade Cliff Caruthers’s sound design. An unstable-looking young man (Wiley Naman Strasser) is praying at the foot of a bed in the second floor of Michael Locher’s unnerving two-story set, with grungy brown walls and a white tile-lined staircase. A glamorous young woman (a magnetic Felicia Benefield) uses the bed to straddle some guy, a man in a suit (Drew Wolff) looks around fretfully, and people generally mill around in a volatile daze like inmates in an asylum.
California Shakespeare Theater’s season opener, Richard Montoya’s American Night: The Ballad of Juan Jose, is completely bonkers. KQED Arts has my review.
Walter Wells is happy. Way, way too happy. So happy that you know that playwright Julie Marie Myatt has it in for him in The Happy Ones at Magic Theatre. KQED Arts has my review.
Our Practical Heaven is a sentimental journey oddly devoid of emotion. It features three generations of the women of a family congregating at the paradisiacal beach house of the eldest to birdwatch and lounge around on the beach. Grandma Vera’s husband has recently died, and her daughter Sasha is absurdly surprised that her mom didn’t follow him into the grave. Also there are Sasha’s daughters, twentysomething Suze and teenage Leez, plus another woman Sasha’s age, Willa, and her daughter Magz. But the young’uns are in a world of their own, texting each other about what idiots their moms are, and the mothers don’t seem to think much about them either.