Impact Theatre often has something stirring in its pizza parlor basement in the summertime, in between the company’s actual seasons. This time it’s a cinephile side project of a few Impact regulars under the moniker “p.d. and the bug” (an entity that’s also credited with directing the show). Dreamed up by Sarah Coykendall, Mike Delaney and Cassie Rosenbrock, Splathouse Double Feature is a loose adaptation of two beloved old B-movies (or D-movies, really) from Fairway International Pictures: the 1963 thrill-killer exploitation flick The Sadist and Eegah, a 1962 flick in which a giant caveman meets some teenyboppers who just want to rock and roll. Mind you, these are greatly abbreviated adaptations—the whole show is only 80 minutes, including intermission.
Christopher Chen’s latest play, Mutt, has a few superficial similarities with
Warrior Class, Kenneth Lin’s drama that played TheatreWorks last year. Both center on Asian-American politicians that represent the Republican Party’s best hope for an Obama of its own. But what the two plays do with that subject matter is very different, and thank goodness for that. Chen’s play is a satirical comedy rather than a drama, for one thing, but it also takes on race politics in America in a much more direct and satisfying way, appropriately enough for a play whose subtitle is Let’s All Talk About Race! Read more
Berkeley’s Impact Theatre has a taste for blood, particularly in its Shakespeare productions but also in the new plays that make up most of its fare. So it’s hardly surprising that its latest assemblage of short plays, Bread and Circuses, is themed around violence as entertainment. In fact it’s really an appreciation of Impact as a company, with most of the shorts written by playwrights who’ve done full-length works with the theater in the past, including
Impact Theatre goes way back to the Trojan War in its latest high-octane staging of Shakespeare. My review is on KQED Arts.
There have been a number of dramas exposing the abuse of “fallen” young women in the Magdalen Asylums of Ireland, such as the film The Magdelene Sisters or the play Eclipsed by Patricia Burke Brogan that Wilde Irish did at Berkeley City Club in 2004. Monica Byrne’s new play What Every Girl Should Know takes place in a variant of that setting—this time it’s a Catholic reformatory in New York City circa 1914—but everything about it suggests that this is a very bad place where nothing good could possibly happen.
The Bay Area is blessed with more than its share of terrific solo theater artists, and new ones are coming out of the woodwork all the time. I hadn’t had a chance to check out Thao P. Nguyen’s work before now, but I feel awfully fortunate to have managed to catch her one-woman show Fortunate Daughter at Impact Theatre last weekend. A story about trying to figure out how to come out as a lesbian to her supportive but still fairly traditional Vietnamese family, FD debuted at the New York Fringe Festival last year, directed by W. Kamau Bell, and then enjoyed a sold-out run at StageWerx helmed by Martha Rynberg, who also directs it here.
Playwright/storyteller Prince Gomolvilas and singer-songwriter Brandon Patton are back at Impact Theatre with another hilarious round of Jukebox Stories, a show that’s different every night because the playlist’s chosen by the luck of the draw. Read my review over at KQED Arts.
Impact Theatre gets gender-bent with an As You Like It where Celia’s a dude, them Dukes are double dutchesses, the melancholy Jaques is a female hipster, and the forest of Arden is a Northern California bar. I give you
What’s a young San Francisco hipster to do with a fancy degree and no motivation to get a real job? Well, how about invade a small, obscure and presumably defenseless island nation?
Playwright Steve Yockey has had plays produced locally by Magic Theatre, Climate Theater and Marin Theatre Company, but it’s good to see that he keeps coming back to Impact Theatre, the pizza-parlor basement company that introduced him to the Bay Area with 2007’s Cartoon. The Fisherman’s Wife, which opened last weekend, is Yockey’s fifth production and third world premiere with Impact.