Sheparding Insanity

11 February, 2015 Theater No comments
Sheparding Insanity

Every insane family is insane in its own way in Shepard revival at the Magic.

My review is on KQED Arts. Read more

Seven Against Illyria

25 February, 2014 Theater No comments
Seven Against Illyria

A magnificent seven local actors–all female–take on Shakespeare’s ever-durable comedy Twelfth Night. My review is on KQED Arts.

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Inaction in Action

Inaction in Action

San Francisco’s fledgling 3Girls Theatre Company is jumping into the Bay Area theater community with both feet, spending all of March (Women’s History Month, that is) in residence at Thick House with two fully staged productions of plays by staff members AJ Baker and Lee Brady and staged readings of works in progress by several other local women writers.

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This List Goes to ’11

24 December, 2011 Theater 1 comment
This List Goes to ’11

It’s a good problem to have: Looking over the list of the 118 local shows I saw this year, I had a hard time narrowing it down to a Top Ten. There are plenty of ways in which 2011 was a tough, lousy, no-good year, but in terms of what I saw on the Bay Area stage, it was pretty damn good. It was a great year for solo shows, between the Marsh (Marga Gomez’s Not Getting Any Younger, Don Reed’s The Kipling Hotel and Geoff Hoyle’s Geezer) and Berkeley Rep (Mike Daisey’s The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs and The Last Cargo Cult, Anna Deavere Smith’s Let Me Down Easy and Rita Moreno’s Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup). There were a couple of great visiting performances by screen stars: Kevin Spacey as Richard III, John Malkovich as mass murderer Jack Unterweger. And there were any number of other shows that thoroughly charmed me in one respect or another but didn’t quite crack the Top Ten: Crowded Fire and Asian American Theatre Company’s Songs of the Dragons Crying to Heaven, Sleepwalkers Theatre’s The Nature Line, Shotgun Players’ Beardo and Care of Trees, Impact’s Disassembly, SF Playhouse’s Tigers Be Still. As for what did make it onto the list, I tried to rank them in order of preference, but no matter how many times I tweak it the ranking feels arbitrary. So let’s say that, like one’s own children, I love them all equally, and just hope they buy that.

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We’re a Happy Family

We’re a Happy Family

“Happy families are all alike,” Leo Tolstoy writes in Anna Karenina; “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Two classic examples are on display at two Berkeley theatres, both of which are celebrating their 20th anniversary seasons right now, albeit in different ways.  Shotgun Players are in the middle of a whole season of commissioned world premieres, while at Aurora Theatre it’s old home week, bringing back key artists from throughout the company’s history. But the plays they’re doing depict two houses, alike in comfortable wealth, that have both been unhappy a very long time.

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Playing Against the House

Playing Against the House

Everybody in Nobody Move is on the move. More specifically, they’re on the run. Gambler Jimmy Luntz is in hiding because he panicked and shot the thug who came to lean on him for bad debts. Booze-soaked Anita has been framed to take the fall for her recent ex-husband’s embezzlement scheme. The two of them meet on the road, and from then on they wait together for their respective trouble to catch up with them.

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Sprawling Pastures

Sprawling Pastures

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.

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