Blood Red, White and Blue

Blood Red, White and Blue

The presidential debates are upon us, Election Day is just a few weeks away, and two local theater companies are getting into the spirit of the thing by staging gleefully perverse musicals about the U.S. presidency.

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Student Affairs

Student Affairs

On the surface, Julie and Valerie seem to have nothing in common. As played by Lauren English in Kenn Rabin’s play Reunion on SF Playhouse’s intimate Stage 2, Julie is fretful, earnest and painfully introverted, while Alexandra Creighton’s Valerie has an assured sexpot strut and an air of always posing, always performing, even in as close as she gets to normal conversation. The two of them went to the same high school, and were both in the drama program, though you don’t get the sense that they really knew each other. Val was the glamorous popular girl who took the lead in all the school plays, and Julie was too shy even to audition for them. Still, the two are inextricably linked, because they both had sex with their high school drama teacher.

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Maybe I’m Just Too Behanding

Maybe I’m Just Too Behanding

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.

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But We Regress

But We Regress

French playwright Yasmina Reza seems particularly interested in how small things become blown out of proportion. In her ubiquitous play Art, the close friendship between three men is threatened when one of them buys an expensive painting that another one thinks is crap.  The Unexpected Man depicts two strangers on a train obsessing over the coincidence that one of them is reading a book that the other one wrote. And in God of Carnage, her 2006 comedy now making its Bay Area debut at San Jose Repertory Theatre, two couples meet to discuss an incident of playground violence between their sons, but their pleasant and civilized chitchat gradually gives way to chaos and savagery.

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The Empathic Duo

The Empathic Duo

Before the opening of the Bay Area premiere of Becky Shaw, SF Playhouse artistic director Bill English gave a stirring speech about theater as a gym for compassion, for developing the muscle of empathy. The sentiment rings true, but it’s also ironic going into a comedy about people who either lack compassion for anyone outside of their chosen circle or whose empathy draws them into trouble. Whether or not you empathize with these characters, you’re such to be entertained by them in this tantalizing first local glimpse of playwright Gina Gionfriddo’s work, thanks to an excellent cast and director Amy Glazer’s sharply paced staging.

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Live Through This

29 September, 2011 Theater No comments
Live Through This

THEATER REVIEW: SAN FRANCISCO

Show #92: Honey Brown Eyes, SF Playhouse, September 27.

Show #90: Night over Erzinga, Golden Thread Productions, September 18.

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Whatever Happened to Baby Eva?

Whatever Happened to Baby Eva?

THEATER REVIEW: SAN FRANCISCO

Show #44: Reborning, SF Playhouse, May 12.

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Brain on the Wire

Brain on the Wire

THEATER REVIEW: SAN FRANCISCO

Show #26: Wirehead, SF Playhouse, March 19.

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The Other Coraline

The Other Coraline

THEATER REVIEW: SAN FRANCISCO

Show #121: Coraline, SF Playhouse, November 20.

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