Rumble on the Mountain

Rumble on the Mountain

You don’t usually expect to find an inner-city gang war atop a woodsy mountain.

Read my review in the Marin Independent Journal.  Read more

I Get a Kick Out of Cole

I Get a Kick Out of Cole

Anything Goes has so many classic Cole Porter songs in it that it’s a wonder it’s an original book musical from which those songs originate rather than some greatest-hits musical revue.

Read my review in the Contra Costa Times Read more

Heavy Viewing

Heavy Viewing

A play about a 600-pound man, performed by a skinny guy in a fat suit, is a tricky proposition.

Read my review of Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale at Marin Theatre Company in the Marin Independent Journal. Read more

How Berkeley Can a Play Be?

How Berkeley Can a Play Be?

Turns out Berkeley means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Dan Wolf wrote a play about it for Shotgun Players.

My review of Daylighting: The Berkeley Stories Project is in the Marin Independent Journal. And you can read my interview with Wolf in the East Bay Monthly! Read more

Ubu Victorious

25 February, 2014 Theater No comments
Ubu Victorious

Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi can be an irritating classic. A seminal avant-garde work that informed later movements such as Surrealism and the Theatre of the Absurd, Ubu famously set off a riot at its 1896 premiere in Paris with its first line: “Merdre,” a mutated French cuss word with an extra letter, often translated as “Pshit” or “Shittr” in English (“Tashit” in the new Cutting Ball Theater version). The titular Father Ubu says that phrase over and over in the play, along with other nonsensical oaths such as “By my green candle!” The humor is scatological and often silly, the plot—such as it is—meandering. An absurd parody of Macbeth with stray elements of other Shakespeare plays, it features the childish and gluttonous Father Ubu murdering the king of Poland to seize power, and then killing all the other nobles and taking all their money.

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Sex and Death

16 November, 2013 Theater No comments
Sex and Death

Sometimes, no matter how avant-garde a play’s language or structure may be, it can be reduced to a simple thesis statement. Basil Kreimendahl’s Sidewinders, for example, now premiering with the Cutting Ball Theater, boils down to “Binary gender distinctions are overrated.” And Diana Amsterdam’s Carnival Round the Central Figure, produced by Symmetry Theatre Company at Live Oak Theatre, declares in no uncertain terms that people should accept death as part of life and not pretend it isn’t happening.

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I and You and Walt Whitman Too

I and You and Walt Whitman Too

I saw not one but two brand new plays by the dizzyingly prolific Lauren Gunderson in the last week and a half. First came The Taming, which I heartily enjoyed. And then came I and You at Marin Theatre Company, which is more problematic. My review‘s in the Marin Independent Journal.

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Kreepy Kritters

Kreepy Kritters

It’s a madhouse. When you enter the Exit on Taylor to see Cutting Ball Theater’s world premiere of Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night by the company’s new resident playwright, Andrew Saito, there’s all kinds of unnerving behavior going on. There’s a legless old man in a wheelchair (David Sinaiko) hollering at people in a gravelly voice. Growling sounds pervade Cliff Caruthers’s sound design. An unstable-looking young man (Wiley Naman Strasser) is praying at the foot of a bed in the second floor of Michael Locher’s unnerving two-story set, with grungy brown walls and a white tile-lined staircase. A glamorous young woman (a magnetic Felicia Benefield) uses the bed to straddle some guy, a man in a suit (Drew Wolff) looks around fretfully, and people generally mill around in a volatile daze like inmates in an asylum.

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Dont Be Absurd

Dont Be Absurd

The Cutting Ball Theater is big on the avant-garde classics, and now it unveils a new translation of Eugène Ionesco’s The Chairs that can be hard to sit through. My review‘s in today’s Marin Independent Journal.

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Tis the Season to Be Melancholy

13 November, 2012 Theater No comments
Tis the Season to Be Melancholy

The Cutting Ball Theater is marking the centennial of August Strindberg’s death in a very big way, performing all five of the seminal Swedish playwright’s  Chamber Plays together in repertory for the first time in any language. They’re all in new translations by Paul Walsh, three of them commissioned by Cutting Ball, and all newly published as a book by Exit Press. The plays are split into three separate bills that have been rolled out gradually since October 12, allowing one double bill to get on its feet before opening the next, but last weekend and this coming, final weekend all five plays are performed in all-day marathons from noon to close to midnight.

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