Show #31: Juliet, San Francisco State University, March 12.
Show #30: Handless, Ragged Wing Ensemble, March 5.
Oy vey, this play. There’s a lot of interesting subject matter in Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s world premiere of Naomi Iizuka’s Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West about the introduction of photography to Japan in the 1800s, but what we get of that is told rather than illustrated, emerging in expository lectures between characters or direct address. It’s staged by Les Waters with a surfeit of style, but what’s being told isn’t really a story so much as various scenes with Americans in Yokohama in the late 19th and early 21st centuries holding forth on photography or Japanese culture, a bit like a series of blog ruminations converted into dialogue and monologue.
When you walk into Intersection for the Arts to see Mirrors on Every Corner, the new play by 25-year-old playwright Oakland native Chinaka Hodge, it looks more like a gallery exhibit than a stage set. Evan Bissell’s art installation and set design run together, with a mural on the rear wall of one Mission family and a side wall of framed portraits and short ruminations on race and identity from other families around the neighborhood. The seats are obscured by two rolling dividers displaying large photos of the flattened Nimitz Freeway right after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and what looks like the shiny new Mandela Gateway apartment complex across the street from West Oakland BART. A card table with hands dealt sits in the middle of the room, and a baby bassinet hangs low from the ceiling in the corner.
Show #26: Don’t Feel: The Death of Dahmer, Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory & 1 1 11ArtGroup, February 27.
Show #25: The Beebo Brinker Chronicles, Brava! for Women in the Arts, February 26.
Director John Doyle previously came to American Conservatory Theater to kick off the national tour of his acclaimed stripped-down Broadway staging of Sweeney Todd, in which all the instruments were played by the actors. Now he’s back at ACT taking a similar tack with the core acting company and a few ACT MFA students on Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle, in a new translation by local actress Domenique Lozano.
Show #23: Pearls over Shanghai, Thrillpeddlers, February 21.
Safe House opens with a knife to the throat, a boy in a wheelchair threatening his mom in the woods. “Is this the end? Say yes,” he says, and although of course it’s only the beginning you can see immediately that its also the end. From there we can only go back to see how we got there.
Seventeenth show of 2010: The Position, PianoFight, February 7.