A musical twist on The Shop Around the Corner charms at SF Playhouse.
Theresa Rebeck gets deep inside kitchen politics.
Neil Simon and Burt Bacharach made The Apartment into a musical, and I wish they hadn’t.
I have such mixed feelings about Seminar, the play now wrapping up its run at San Francisco Playhouse. On the one hand, it’s a new play by Theresa Rebeck, who gave us the sharp dark comedy
The Scene and the marvelously tangled crime caper Mauritius (as well as more flimsy endeavors such as the workplace sexism satire What We’re Up Against). What’s more, it’s directed by Amy Glazer, who introduced Rebeck to the Bay Area with The Scene at SF Playhouse, which she later directed as the feature film Seducing Charlie Barker, and who clearly has a great affinity for the playwright’s work. And as a satire of fiction writers’ workshops, Seminar is pretty sharp and funny and biting in its own right. Read more
San Francisco Playhouse’s Bauer is the umpteenth local production by prolific local playwright Lauren Gunderson in the last few years, after
The Taming and Exit, Pursued by a Bear with Crowded Fire Theater, I and You at Marin Theatre Company, By and By with Shotgun Players, Silent Sky with TheatreWorks, Emilie with Symmetry Theatre Company, and Toil and Trouble and the short “Damsel and Distress Go to a Party” with Impact Theatre Company. But it’s the very first SF Playhouse commission that has reached the company’s main stage season. As artistic director Bill English explained in his preshow speech opening night, he was so enthralled by a documentary about painter Rudolf Bauer that he saw on TV that he asked Gunderson to write a play about the artist. Like a lot of Gunderson’s recent plays, Bauer already had a subsequent production lined up before it premiered, and it’s going to New York’s 59E59 Theaters in the fall. Read more
John Patrick Shanley has written a lot of plays. He’s best known for 2004’s Doubt, a Parable, which won him a Pulitzer, Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, and a bunch of other awards, but he’s been cranking out plays since the early 1980s. He’s also the screenwriter of such films as Moonstruck, Congo and Joe vs. the Volcano, and I will defend the latter as easily his greatest work. I start with this list of his credentials because when I saw his latest play, Storefront Church at San Francisco Playhouse, my take-away was that this guy isn’t really a playwright.
Aaron Loeb’s latest play in San Francisco Playhouse’s Sandbox Series of second-stage world premieres, Ideation is a suspenseful and hilarious business-world thriller. You can read my review on KQED Arts.
When the San Francisco Playhouse moved into its cushy new digs at the former Post Street Theatre, its new main stage was clearly more capacious than its old one. But it was leaving behind not one stage but two at its erstwhile home above the Shelton Theatre, and one interesting question was what would become of the company’s Sandbox Series of small-scale world premieres on its second stage. One show in the series, Lauren Gunderson’s Bauer, was originally scheduled for shortly after the move, but was quietly shelved.
The San Francisco Playhouse gives Stephen Adly Guirgis’s The Motherfucker with the Hat its West Coast premiere, and it’s a motherfucker of a show. I reviewed it over at KQED Arts, where I had to be a bit coyer about the name. I did, however, get to say “there’s a veritable fluffload of profanity in the show.”
Boy, this was a hard year to reduce to a Top Ten. When I look over the list of the 117 shows I attended in 2012, eight strike me as shoo-ins for the list, and then there are fifteen other shows vying for the remaining two slots. Mind you, that’s a good problem to have; there really was a lot of good theater in the Bay Area this year—and, of course, some so-so and not very good theater as well. And of course there’s not any inherent virtue in the vast theaterscape of 2012 being reducible to a list in the first place, so maybe I should quit my kvetching, suck it up, and get to it. Although I’m restricting myself to ten, these shows aren’t ranked or numbered and are listed in chronological order.