Show #55: Tiny Alice, Marin Theatre Company, June 7.
It’s hard not to compare the world premiere of What We’re Up Against to the last (and first) time artistic director Loretta Greco staged a Theresa Rebeck play at Magic Theatre, with 2009′s Mauritius, a whip-smart crime caper about rare stamps with funny, rapid-fire Mametian dialogue. The comparison is more tempting still because more than half the cast of the new play–Rod Gnapp, Warren David Keith and James Wagner–was in the prior production.
Ever since Jonathan Moscone started adding late 19th and early 20th century classics into California Shakespeare Theater’s seasons early in his decade as artistic director, the company has done an outstanding job with the works of George Bernard Shaw, Anton Chekhov and Oscar Wilde. Former San Jose Rep artistic director Timothy Near, who helmed Cal Shakes’s near-perfect 2008 production of Uncle Vanya, now takes on George Bernard Shaw’s 1893 play Mrs. Warren’s Profession, which was initially banned for its no-nonsense discussion of prostitution and particularly of society’s culpability for providing few economic alternatives for women.
There was an appropriately agricultural scent in the air for opening night of California Shakespeare Theater’s world premiere of John Steinbeck’s The Pastures of Heaven. The company’s brand new Sharon Simpson Center with café, store, offices and the like under a verdant living roof was not quite completed, and the prosperous smell of fertilizer wafted through the outdoor amphitheater.
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.