The Cutting Ball Theater is marking the centennial of August Strindberg’s death in a very big way, performing all five of the seminal Swedish playwright’s Chamber Plays together in repertory for the first time in any language. They’re all in new translations by Paul Walsh, three of them commissioned by Cutting Ball, and all newly published as a book by Exit Press. The plays are split into three separate bills that have been rolled out gradually since October 12, allowing one double bill to get on its feet before opening the next, but last weekend and this coming, final weekend all five plays are performed in all-day marathons from noon to close to midnight.
It’s not often that you see a guy in a Mexican wrestling mask just sitting in the audience at the theater, but then, it’s not every day that you see a play about professional wrestling. Everyone knows that wrestling is just as scripted as your average play, with the characters, twists, and outcomes all determined in advance, but I don’t know how much crossover there really is between the audiences of the ring and those of the stage.
For someone whose work was unseen in the Bay Area before this year, East Coast playwright Annie Baker is suddenly all over the place: Body Awareness at Aurora in February, The Aliens at SF Playhouse in March, and now Circle Mirror Transformation at Marin Theatre Company. I reviewed the latter in the Marin Independent Journal, conveniently readable right over here.
I have not one but two reviews in today’s Marin Independent Journal: Cinnabar Theater’s rollicking revival of Born Yesterday, featuring a hilarious Heather Gordon as Billie Dawn, and Marin Theatre Company doing Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage just a couple of months after San Jose Rep gave the play its local premiere. So what are you waiting for? Click on the links in that first sentence to read all about ‘em.
Bay Area audiences have become familiar with the devilish and often bloody-minded wit of Martin McDonagh over the last decade or two, largely thanks to excellent productions of the London-born Irish playwright’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane, The Pillowman and The Lieutenant of Inishmore at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. But Berkeley Rep’s had no monopoly on McDonagh by any means, as his plays have been staged by Magic Theatre, TheatreWorks, Wilde Irish and Cal Performances, among others. Now SF Playhouse gets into the act with the regional premiere of A Behanding in Spokane, which debuted on Broadway two years ago.
When you’re a little kid at Disneyland, you may understand on some level that the Donald Duck waddling around shaking hands isn’t actually the cartoon character magically come to life but some oversize, mute representation of him. But it takes a bit of personal growth to go from knowing deep down it’s a guy or gal in a costume and actually thinking what it must be like to wear that thing on a sweltering Southern California summer day.
THEATER REVIEW: SAN JOSE
Show #39: Lolita Roadtrip, San Jose Stage Company, April 24.