Theater Listings: March 12 - 18, 2014
Stage listings are compiled by Guardian staff. Performance times may change; call venues to confirm. Reviewers are Robert Avila, Rita Felciano, and Nicole Gluckstern. Submit items for the listings at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bauer San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post, SF; www.sfplayhouse.org. Previews March 18-21, 8pm. Opens March 22, 8pm. Runs Tue-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm); March 23 and April 13, 2pm. Through April 19. San Francisco Playhouse presents the world premiere of Lauren Gunderson's drama about artist Rudolf Bauer.
Twisted Fairy Tales Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.leftcoasttheatreco.org. $15-25. Opens Fri/14, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through April 5. Left Coast Theatre Co. performs the world premiere of seven one-act LGBT-themed plays based on classic children's stories.
Wrestling Jerusalem Intersection for the Arts, 925 Mission, SF; www.theintersection.org. $20-30. Previews Wed/12-Fri/14, 7:30pm. Opens Sat/15, 7:30pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 7:30pm; Sun, 2pm. Intersection for the Arts presents Aaron Davidman in his multicharacter solo performance piece about Israel and Palestine.
Arms and the Man Barn Theatre, 30 Sir Francis Drake, Ross; www.rossvalleyplayers.com. $13-26. Previews Thu/13, 7:30pm. Opens Fri/14, 8pm. Runs Thu, 7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm (no show Sun/16). Through April 13. Ross Valley Players perform George Bernard Shaw's romantic comedy.
Children Are Forever (All Sales are Final!) Stage Werx Theatre, 446 Valencia, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $15. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through March 22. Writer-performer and comedian Julia Jackson's well acted and consistently funny autobiographical solo show details her and her female partner's attempt to adopt a newborn girl from a young African American mother in Florida. Along the way, Jackson's smart script details the trials, red tape, and unexpected market incentives in the field of adoption for a same-sex, interracial couple. If the generally involving story nevertheless attenuates a little across its two-act structure, Coke Nakamoto's precise direction (which builds on original direction by W. Kamau Bell) offers a lively framework for Jackson's excellent characterizations as well as her frank and interesting commentary on the social, political messiness of certain natural urges. (Avila)
Crystal Springs Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.crystalspringstheplay.com. $20-65. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through March 23. Eureka Theatre presents Kathy Rucker's world-premiere drama about parenting in the digital age.
Feisty Old Jew Marsh San Francisco Main Stage, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $25-100. Sat/15, 8pm; Sun/16, 7pm. Charlie Varon performs his latest solo show, a fictional comedy about "a 20th century man living in a 21st century city."
Foodies! The Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.foodiesthemusical.com. $32-34. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. AWAT Productions presents Morris Bobrow's musical comedy revue all about food.
Hundred Days Z Space, 450 Florida, SF; www.zspace.org. $10-100. Wed and Sun, 7pm; Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through April 6. Married musical duo the Bengsons (Abigail and Shaun) provide the real-life inspiration and guiding rock 'n' roll heart for this uneven but at times genuinely rousing indie musical drama, a self-referential meta-theater piece relating the story of a young couple in 1940s America who fall madly in love only to discover one of them is terminally ill. As an exploration of love, mortality, and the nature of time, the story of Sarah and Will (doubled by the Bengsons and, in movement sequences and more dramatically detailed scenes, by chorus members Amy Lizardo and Reggie D. White) draws force from the potent musical performances and songwriting of composer-creators Abigail and Shaun Bengson (augmented here by the appealing acting-singing chorus and backup band that also feature El Beh, Melissa Kaitlyn Carter, Geneva Harrison, Kate Kilbane, Jo Lampert, Delane Mason, Joshua Pollock). Playwright Kate E. Ryan's book, however, proves too straightforward, implausible, and sentimental to feel like an adequate vessel for the music's exuberant, urgent emotion and lilting, longing introspection. Other trappings of director Anne Kauffman's elaborate production (including an inspired set design by Kris Stone that echoes the raw industrial shell of the theater; and less-than-inspired choreography by the otherwise endlessly inventive Joe Goode) can add texture at times but also prove either neutral figures or distracting minuses in conveying what truth and heft there is in the material. Ultimately, this still evolving world premiere has a strong musical beat at its core, which has a palpable force of its own, even if it's yet to settle into the right combination of story and staging. (Avila)
Lovebirds Marsh San Francisco Studio, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thu/13-Fri/14, 8pm; Sat/15, 8:30pm. Theater artist and comedian Marga Gomez presents the world premiere of her 10th solo show, described as "a rollicking tale of incurable romantics."
Mommy Queerest Exit Studio, 156 Eddy, SF; www.divafest.info. $15-25. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through March 29. Sex scenes in solo shows might sound a little onanistic, but in the right circumstances a door jam or a love seat can serve as a fine co-star. Stand-up comic and actor Kat Evasco demonstrates as much in this raunchy and high-spirited story of her sexual awakening as a lesbian-identifying bisexual, coming out in a household dominated by her closeted mother, a Filipina American drama queen with a long-term female companion she insists is the "gay" one. Presented by Guerrilla Rep and the Exit Theatre's DIVAfest, and directed by Guerrilla Rep's John Caldon (who co-wrote the play with Evasco), the story follows a familiar and predictable arc in some ways — familial hypocrisy giving way to inspirational cross-generational understanding — and the characterizations and set-ups (including a family feud on Jerry Springer) come with not always inspired choices. Moreover not all the jokes land where they should in a performance that starts as stand-up but immediately shifts into the style of a solo-play confessional. (A more thoroughgoing subversion of the stand-up format might have produced more complex, less foreseeable results.) At the same time, there's no denying Evasco's charm and energy, or her buoyant comedic talent, which makes it easier to forgive the play's structural shortcomings. (Avila)
"Risk Is This ... The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival" Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor, SF; www.cuttingball.com. Free ($20 donation for reserved seating). Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through March 29. Five new works in staged readings, including two from Cutting Ball resident playwright Andrew Saito.
The Scion Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-60. Thu-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through April 18. In his latest solo show, Brian Copeland (Not a Genuine Black Man; The Waiting Period) explores an infamous crime in his hometown of San Leandro: the 2000 murder of three government meat inspectors by Stuart Alexander, owner of the Santos Linguisa Factory. The story is personal history for Copeland, at least indirectly, as the successful comedian and TV host recounts growing up nearby under the common stricture that "rules are rules," despite evidence all around that equity, fairness, and justice are in fact deeply skewed by privilege. Developed with director David Ford, the multiple-character monologue (delivered with fitful humor on a bare-bones stage with supportive sound design by David Hines) contrasts Copeland's own youthful experiences as a target of racial profiling with the way wealthy and white neighbor Stuart Alexander, a serial bully and thug, consistently evaded punishment and even police attention along his path to becoming the "Sausage King," a mayoral candidate, and a multiple murderer (Alexander died in 2005 at San Quentin). The story takes some meandering turns in making its points, and not all of Copeland's characterizations are equally compelling. The subject matter is timely enough, however, though ironically it is government that seems to set itself further than ever above the law as much as wealthy individuals or the bogus "legal persons" of the corporate world. The results of such concentrated power are indeed unhealthy, and literally so — Copeland's grandmother (one of his more persuasive characterizations) harbors a deep distrust of processed food that is nothing if not prescient —but The Scion's tale of two San Leandrans leaves one hungry for more complexity. (Avila)
Shit & Champagne Rebel, 1772 Market, SF; shitandchampagne.eventbrite.com. $25. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. D'Arcy Drollinger is Champagne White, bodacious blond innocent with a wicked left hook in this cross-dressing '70s-style white-sploitation flick, played out live on Rebel's intimate but action-packed barroom stage. Written by Drollinger and co-directed with Laurie Bushman (with high-flying choreography by John Paolillo, Drollinger, and Matthew Martin), this high-octane camp send-up of a favored formula comes dependably stocked with stock characters and delightfully protracted by a convoluted plot (involving, among other things, a certain street drug that's triggered an epidemic of poopy pants) — all of it played to the hilt by an excellent cast that includes Martin as Dixie Stampede, an evil corporate dominatrix at the head of some sinister front for world domination called Mal*Wart; Alex Brown as Detective Jack Hammer, rough-hewn cop on the case and ambivalent love interest; Rotimi Agbabiaka as Sergio, gay Puerto Rican impresario and confidante; Steven Lemay as Brandy, high-end calf model and Champagne's (much) beloved roommate; and Nancy French as Rod, Champagne's doomed fiancé. Sprawling often literally across two buxom acts, the show maintains admirable consistency: The energy never flags and the brow stays decidedly low. (Avila)
The Speakeasy Undisclosed location (ticket buyers receive a text with directions), SF; www.thespeakeasysf.com. $70 (gambling chips, $5-10 extra; after-hours admission, $10). Thu-Sat, 7:40, 7:50, and 8pm admittance times. Extended through May 24. Boxcar Theater's most ambitious project to date is also one of the more involved and impressively orchestrated theatrical experiences on any Bay Area stage just now. An immersive time-tripping environmental work, The Speakeasy takes place in an "undisclosed location" (in fact, a wonderfully redesigned version of the company's Hyde Street theater complex) amid a period-specific cocktail lounge, cabaret, and gambling den inhabited by dozens of Prohibition-era characters and scenarios that unfold around an audience ultimately invited to wander around at will. At one level, this is an invitation to pure dress-up social entertainment. But there are artistic aims here too. Intentionally designed (by co-director and creator Nick A. Olivero with co-director Peter Ruocco) as a fractured super-narrative — in which audiences perceive snatches of overheard stories rather than complete arcs, and can follow those of their own choosing — there's a way the piece becomes specifically and ever more subtly about time itself. This is most pointedly demonstrated in the opening vignettes in the cocktail lounge, where even the ticking of Joe's Clock Shop (the "cover" storefront for the illicit 1920s den inside) can be heard underscoring conversations (deeply ironic in historical hindsight) about war, loss, and regained hope for the future. For a San Francisco currently gripped by a kind of historical double-recurrence of the roaring Twenties and dire Thirties at once, The Speakeasy is not a bad place to sit and ponder the simulacra of our elusive moment. (Avila)
Tipped & Tipsy Marsh Studio Theater, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Sat, 5pm; Sun, 7pm. Through April 6. Solo performer Jill Vice performs her Fringe Festival hit.
The World of Paradox Garage, 715 Bryant, SF; www.paradoxmagic.com. $12-15. Mon, 8pm. Through April 7. Footloose presents David Facer in his solo show, a mix of magic and theater.
Yellow New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through March 23. Playwright Del Shores (Sordid Lives, Southern Baptist Sissies) returns to his native South — while detouring from previous camp-comedy treatments — with this affirming family drama set in Vicksburg, Miss., about a progressive white couple whose marriage and family are rocked in the wake of their son's illness. Kate (Dana Zook) and Bobby (Andrew Nance) are celebrating 19 years together. Their oldest son, Dayne (Damion Matthews), is a handsome high school senior and football star; their daughter, Gracie (Ali Haas), is his high-strung younger sister, a drama devotee in more ways than one with plans to be the next Meryl Streep. Gracie's best friend, Kendall (Maurice André San-Chez), is an effeminate young man with a golden singing voice but a strict fundamentalist mother (Linsay Rousseau) from whom he must hide his plan to join Gracie in the school's production of Oklahoma. Kendall's fractured family encourages his tight orbit around Gracie's — including Dayne, on whom Kendall has an impossible-to-disguise crush — all of whom accept the closeted, innocent youth unequivocally. But when Dayne comes down with a rare liver disease (the title has nothing to do with race, which is not explored here, but references, at a literal level, the sickly color that overcomes Dayne at one point), the seemingly ideal family itself fractures along lines of a deeply buried secret regarding his paternity. Amid their worry for Dayne's future, and the painful dynamic opened between Kate and Bobby, Kendall's mother moves in with proselyting zeal, alienating her son to the point of total rejection, but also adding to an already volatile tension between his adoptive parents. Helmed by New Conservatory Theatre Center's founding artistic director, Ed Decker, the production achieves (after some initial warming up) decent performances across the cast, which, along with Shores' careful plotting and consistent humor, helps keep this sentimental, somewhat too neat story involving until the end. (Avila)
Accidental Death of an Anarchist Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-99. Opens Wed/12, 8pm. Runs Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (no show April 18; additional 2pm shows March 20 and April 17; also Sat, 2pm, but no matinee March 22); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through April 20. Berkeley Rep presents comic actor Steven Epp in Dario Fo's explosive political farce, directed by Christopher Bayes,
Bread and Circuses La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; www.impacttheatre.com. $20-25. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through April 6. Impact Theatre performs "a cavalcade of brutal and bloody new short plays" by various contemporary playwrights.
Geezer Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $25-50. Thu, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through April 26. Geoff Hoyle moves his hit comedy about aging to the East Bay.
The House That Will Not Stand Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-59. Wed/12, 7pm; Thu/13-Sat/15, 8pm (also Thu/13 and Sat/15, 2pm); Sun/16, 2 and 7pm. July 4, 1836: As a white New Orleans patriarch (Ray Reinhardt) passes from the scene, under somewhat mysterious circumstances, his longtime mistress, Beartrice (an imposing, memorable Lizan Mitchell), and their daughters (the charmingly varied trio of Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Flor De Liz Perez, and Tiffany Rachelle Stewart) — all free women of color — vie for dominance while trying to secure their respective futures in Berkeley Rep's sumptuous and beautifully acted world premiere. Nationally acclaimed playwright and Oakland native Marcus Gardley (And Jesus Moonwalked the Mississippi; This World in a Woman's Hands) brews up a historically rich and revealing, as well as witty and fiery tale here, based on the practice of plaçage (common-law marriages between white men and black Creole women), grounding it in the large personalities of his predominately female characters — who include a nosy and angling intruder (played with subtlety by Petronia Paley) — and lacing it all with a delirious dose of magical realism via the voodoo charms of Beartrice's slave, Makeda (Harriett D. Foy, who with Keith Townsend Obadike also contributes lush, atmospheric compositions to the proceedings). Gardley delves productively into the history overall, although he sometimes indulges it too much in awkward and ultimately unnecessary expository dialogue. When he allows his characters full scope for expression of their personalities and relationships, however, the dialogue sails by with brio and punch —something the powerhouse cast, shrewdly directed by Patricia McGregor, makes the most of throughout. (Avila)
Lasso of Truth Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; www.marintheatre.org. $37-58. Wed/12, 7:30pm;Thu/13-Sat/15, 8pm (also Sat/15, 2pm); Sun/16, 2 and 7pm. Marin Theatre Company performs Carson Kreitzer's new play about the history of Wonder Woman.
The Lion and the Fox Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; www.centralworks.org. $15-28. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through March 30. Central Works performs a prequel to its 2009 hit, Machiavelli's The Prince, which depicts a face-off between Niccolo Machiavelli and Cesare Borgia.
The Music Man Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College, Berk; www.berkeleyplayhouse.org. $17-60. Fri and March 20, 7pm; Sat, 1 and 6pm; Sun, noon and 5pm. Through March 23. There's trouble in River City! See it unfold amid all those trombones at Berkeley Playhouse.
Once On This Island Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield, Palo Alto; www.theatreworks.org. $19-73. Tue-Wed, 7:30pm; Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through March 30. TheatreWorks performs the Tony-nominated musical about a star-crossed love affair in the tropics, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid.
Caroline Lugo and Carolé Acuña's Ballet Flamenco Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; www.carolinalugo.com. Sun/16, March 22, 30, April 6, 12, 19, and 30, 6:15pm. $15-19. Flamenco performance by the mother-daughter dance company, featuring live musicians.
Companhia Urbana de Dança Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF; www.ybca.org. Thu/13-Sat/15, 8pm. $25-35. Brazilian dance troupe under the direction of Sonia Destri Lie.
"Dream Queens Revue" Aunt Charlie's Lounge, 133 Turk, SF; www.dreamqueensrevue.com. Wed/12, 9:30pm. Free. Drag with Collette LeGrande, Ruby Slippers, Sophilya Leggz, Bobby Ashton, and more.
Feinstein's at the Nikko Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; www.feinsteinssf.com. This week: Cheyenne Jackson with musical director Ben Toth, Fri/14, 8pm; Sat/15-Sun/16, 7pm, $60-75.
Greg Fitzsimmons Punch Line Comedy Club, 444 Battery, SF; www.punchlinecomedyclub.com. Thu/13, 8pm; Fri/14, 8 and 10pm; Sat/15, 7:30 and 9:30pm. $23.50. The comedian performs.
"The Garden Party" Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason, SF; www.overcasttheatre.com. Fri/14-Sat/15 and March 19-22, 8pm; Sun/16, 5pm. $11-13. Overcast Theatre performs Václav Havel's 1963 comedy.
"LEVYdance Presents: The Salon" LEVYstudio, 19 Heron, SF; www.levydance.org. Sat/15, 8:30pm. $10. Performing arts showcase featuring 10 local artists of various disciplines.
"LOL Mondays at OMG" OMG, 43 Sixth St, SF; www.clubomgsf.com. Mon/17, 7pm. Free. Comedy show hosted by Valerie Branch, with featured performers Imran G., Samantha Gilweit, and Barry Fischer, plus an open mic.
"Magic at the Rex" Hotel Rex, 562 Sutter, SF; www.magicattherex.com. Sat, 8pm. Ongoing. $25. Magic and mystery with Adam Sachs and mentalist Sebastian Boswell III.
"The Naked Stage" Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason Center, SF; www.improv.org. Sat, 8pm. Through March 29. $20. BATS Improv performs a completely improvised play.
"New Winter: Winter Choreographers Showcase" Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri/14-Sat/15, 8pm. $14. Works by Tika Morgan's Reggaeton Fusion Performance Workshop, Allan Frias' Hip-Hop Performance Workshop, Maurice Stokes, Natasha Carlitz Dance Ensemble, and more.
"Paper Wing" NOHspace, 2840 Mariposa, SF; www.theatreofyugen.org. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through March 22. $15-35. Sculptural costume artist Sha Sha Higby presents a new solo performance.
"Point Break Live!" DNA Lounge, 373 11th St, SF; www.dnalounge.com. April 4, 7:30 and 11pm. $25-50. Dude, Point Break Live! is like dropping into a monster wave, or holding up a bank, like, just a pure adrenaline rush, man. Ahem. Sorry, but I really can't help but channel Keanu Reeves and his Johnny Utah character when thinking about the awesomely bad 1991 movie Point Break or its equally yummily cheesy stage adaptation. And if you do an even better Keanu impression than me — the trick is in the vacant stare and stoner drawl — then you can play his starring role amid a cast of solid actors, reading from cue cards from a hilarious production assistant in order to more closely approximate Keanu's acting ability. This play is just so much fun, even better now at DNA Lounge than it was a couple years ago at CELLspace. But definitely buy the poncho pack and wear it, because the blood, spit, and surf spray really do make this a fully immersive experience. (Steven T. Jones)
"Shotz: Featuring a Strong Female Lead" Tides Theatre, 533 Sutter, SF; www.amiosnyc.com. Tue/18, 8pm. $10. Seven plays, five minutes each, created in less than a month, and united under the theme "Featuring a Strong Female Lead."
"Silenced" and "The CONTACT Project" CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; www.counterpulse.org. Fri-Sat and March 20, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through March 23. Performance works by Charya Burt and Krista DeNio.
"Sorya! 2014: We Are Still At It" NOHspace, 2840 Mariposa, SF: www.brownpapertickets.com. Sat-Sun, 2pm; Mon, 7pm. Through March 24. Theatre of Yugen presents its 35th anniversary season with a performance by founder Yuriko Doi in the kyogen play Kawakami.
SOULSKIN Dance Joe Goode Annex, 401 Alabama, SF; soulskindance.brownpapertickets.com. Fri/14-Sat/15, 8pm. $20. A multimedia pop culture journey directed by Adrianna Thompson.
"Speechless" Public Works SF, 161 Erie, SF; www.speechlesslive.com. Wed/12, 7:30pm. $20. One-year anniversary special of the PowerPoint-based comedy show.
Stephen Petronio Company Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard, SF; www.sfperformances.org. Fri/14-Sat/15, 7:30pm. $35-50. The company performs the West Coast premiere of Like Lazarus Did.
"An Evening of Relentless Humor in Multiple Formats from SOB" 142 Throckmorton Theatre, 142 Throckmorton, Mill Valley; www.142throckmorton.com. Sat/15, 8pm. $25-35. Sketch and improv comedy.
Savion Glover Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael; www.marincenter.org. Fri/14, 8pm. $20-60. The tap dancer performs his new work, StePz.
"The Ironbound" Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; www.marintheatre.org. Mon/17, 7pm. Free. Staged reading of a new play by Martyna Majok.
"MarshJam Improv Comedy Show" Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. Fri, 8pm. Ongoing. $10. Improv comedy with local legends and drop-in guests.
"Mortified: March Madness" Uptown, 1928 Telegraph, Oakl; www.getmortified.com. Thu/13, 7:30pm. $20. Also Fri/14, 7:30pm, $21. DNA Lounge, 375 11th St, SF. Fearless storytellers share their most adorably embarrassing childhood writings.
Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir's Annual Spring Musical First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison, Oakl; www.oigc.org. Sat/15, 7:30pm. Free. OIGC performs spiritual and gospel music under the direction of Terrance Kelly, with special guest Calvin B. Rhone.
"Poetry Express" Himalayan Flavors, 1585 University, Berk; poetryexpressberkeley.blogspot.com. Mon, 7pm. Free. Ongoing. This week: Richard Silberg, plus open mic. Next week: Ambrose Mohler, plus open mic.
"Some Girl(s)" Dragon Theatre, 2120 Broadway, Redwood City; www.dragonproductions.net. Fri/14-Sat/15, 8pm (also Sat/15, 2pm); Sun/16, 2pm. $15. Dragon Theater's 2nd Stages Program kicks off with this production of Neil LaBute's dark comedy. *