Strangers Will Make You Uncomfortable

Strangers Will Make You Uncomfortable

Scottish playwright Linda McLean returns with an eerie, elliptical portrait of a life in five scenes.

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Bonnie and Clyde’s Barn Dance Jamboree

12 September, 2013 Theater No comments
Bonnie and Clyde’s Barn Dance Jamboree

Bank-robbing couple Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow have been objects of popular fascination since their heyday of the 1930s—a sexy young couple whose crime sprees were blown up into folklore even while they were active, and were then gunned down in their prime by law-enforcement officers in the course of, you know, enforcing the law. From the classic 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde to the Serge Gainsbourg/Brigitte Bardot pop song of the same name released that same year, they’ve been elevated to the level of mythic figures, like their fellow American outlaws Jesse James and John Dillinger.

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Solo Plus Five

Solo Plus Five

Monologist Josh Kornbluth brings along another actor and a live band, but Sea of Reeds is still pretty much a monologue. You can read my reviewon KQED Arts.

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Talk and Talk and Talk About a Revolution

Talk and Talk and Talk About a Revolution

Shotgun Players is taking on The Coast of Utopia,Tom Stoppard’s mammoth trilogy about the budding Russian intellectual life of the mid-19th century, planting seeds for the revolution that will come much later. Having done chapter one, Voyage, last year, Shotgun now presents part two, Shipwreck, in repertory with a limited revival of Voyage. My review‘s up on KQED Arts for the intrepid explorer.

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Embarrassment of Riches

30 December, 2012 Theater No comments
Embarrassment of Riches

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.

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A Cesspool to Celebrate

13 December, 2012 Theater 3 comments
A Cesspool to Celebrate

There have been umpteen zillion variations and adaptations of Woyzeck, assembled from unsorted fragments that author Georg Büchner left when he died in 1837 at the age of 24. The Shotgun Players production under the direction of local auteur Mark Jackson uses a high-profile musical version from the year 2000, adapted by Ann-Christin Rommen and Wolfgang Wiens with a concept by original director Robert Wilson and songs by Tom Waits and his wife Kathleen Brennan that Waits later recorded on his 2002 album Blood Money.

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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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What We Talk About When We Talk About Talking

What We Talk About When We Talk About Talking

What exactly is being communicated, and how is it different from what’s being said? For that matter, why’s it being said the way that it is?  These questions underlie a lot of the conversations in Precious Little, the latest show at Shotgun Players, but they’re questions that could as easily be asked of the intriguing, entertaining and elusive play itself. It’s written by Madeleine George, a New York playwright whose work I’m not familiar with, but I’m delighted to see that another one of her plays is titled Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England. She’s also from Amherst, Massachusetts originally, just like Circle Mirror Transformation playwright Annie Baker—or like Emily Dickinson, for that matter.

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Lazzi Come Home

Lazzi Come Home

Truffaldino Says No isn’t really a commedia dell’arte play, nor an adaptation of one. It is, however, about commedia stock characters, and what happens when one of them decides that he doesn’t want to be a guy who keeps doing the same thing over and over anymore.

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A Fracking Shame

A Fracking Shame

Shotgun Players has doubled down on its commitment to new plays lately. Last year’s 20th-anniversary season was entirely made up of commissioned world premieres, and after an impressively solid production of Tom Stoppard’s Voyage this spring, Shotgun unveils another commission. The Great Divide is a modern take on Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 play An Enemy of the People, updated to focus on current hot-button environmental issues. The playwright is Adam Chanzit, whose play Down to This closed in a Sleepwalkers Theatre production in San Francisco the same weekend this show opened in Berkeley.

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