Award-winning playwright Cherríe Moraga’s latest, “New Fire,” long in the making, is subtitled “To Put Things Right Again” — a hint at Moraga’s ambition in creating the multimedia, multidisciplinary piece.Moraga, who also directed it for Brava Theater, aims to encompass the struggles of women — queer, indigenous and Chicana in particular — as well as aspects of environmentalism. Read More
If you don’t laugh your pants off when Lorenzo Pisoni, in enormous flippers, swim cap and goggles, struggles to clamber up a ladder and dive head-first into a small bucket of water, you might be clinically dead.
Although “Humor Abuse,” Pisoni’s solo autobiographical play about growing up in San Francisco’s iconic Pickle Family Circus, is at its heart a tender tribute to his irascible, and at times very difficult, father (Pickle cofounder and consummate clown Larry Pisoni, aka Lorenzo Pickle), it’s also a very funny clown show. Read More
When comically gifted director John Fisher, the exquisite Word for Word ensemble and a well-balanced pair of literary short stories converge on the Z Space stage, the result is theatrical magic. You ought to run, not walk, for tickets.
Word for Word, which presents literature verbatim in the most delightful and inventive ways, chose the sublime sensuality of food — and its various ramifications and resonances — as the common thread in “Food Stories.” Read More
Watching Tennessee Williams’ poetically nonrealistic “The Two-Character Play,” which he wrote and rewrote for 10 years up to its 1973 New York opening, brings several other plays to mind: Sartre’s “No Exit,” for one, and Genet’s “The Maids.” Read More
If you don’t know who Nikola Tesla was, you may find out more than you wanted to know about him — and about his invention, AC current (and electricity in general), from Mugwumpin’s “Future Motive Power.”It’s a loopy, partly surreal, site-specific piece that examines the mind, and the times, of an early-20th-century mad scientist who’s been neglected by history. Read More
If you love Cirque du Soleil but welcome a respite from its glitz and glamour (not to mention its admission prices), you’ll be captivated by the hometown troupe Sweet Can, a petite boutique circus that presents an annual holiday show, gracefully directed by choreographer Joanna Haigood of ZACCHO Dance Theatre.
“Yes Sweet Can,” with its loosey-goosey narrative and up-close feats of skill and wonder, appeals to kids and adults alike (a companion piece, “Mittens and Mistletoe,” is geared more specifically toward kids). Read More
Maybe I would have liked the current revival of the 1991 Tony-winning musical “The Secret Garden” better if the book of the same name, upon which it’s based, hadn’t been one of my childhood favorites. Or maybe I’d have loved the musical — as the opening night audience certainly seemed to — if playwright-lyricist Marsha Norman had managed to turn Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic, published in 1911, into adult fare in a cleaner, leaner way. Read More
At the beginning of SF Playhouse’s production of Tennessee Williams’ self-described 1960 “serious comedy” called “Period of Adjustment,” former Korean War hero Ralph (a restless, conflicted Johnny Moreno) eagerly awaits the arrival of his best friend and war buddy, George (a riveting Patrick Alparone), and George’s new bride, Isabel (MacKenzie Meehan in a deeply empathetic portrayal). Read More
Ahmed, the central character in the West Coast premiere of Seattle-based playwright Yussef el Guindi’s enormously clever “Language Rooms,” is in trouble.
An American Muslim working as an Arabic translator for the U.S. government in an undisclosed location, Ahmed (a progressively unhinged James Asher) has duties that include interrogating suspected terrorists in all the usual, horrific ways.
But it seems he doesn’t shower with the other guys! He didn’t show up for the Super Bowl party! He’s a misfit and therefore suspect. Read More
In “Annapurna,” New York playwright Sharr White’s world premiere at the Magic Theatre, the ups and downs of a middle-aged couple’s interactions are condensed into the space of a single day. Ulysses (Rod Gnapp) and Emma (Denise Cormier) haven’t communicated in 20 years, not since she left him, without explanation, in the middle of the night with their 5-year-old son in tow. Read More
We’ve come to expect rare revivals of 20th-century plays, original translations from the French and new, experimental works from Cutting Ball Theater, and the small company’s latest effort does not disappoint.Artistic director Rob Melrose has translated and directed Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck’s seldom produced, 1893 symbolist fairy tale “Pelleas & Melisande.” (The script has been published, along with two other of Melrose’s play translations, by the local Exit Press.) Read More
Time is drastically out of joint in Marilee Talkington’s mystifying new play, “Sticky Time,” which is part sci-fi, part philosophical.
The audience sits in a cozy clump on swivel chairs in the middle of Brava Theater’s upstairs black box space. Before the lights go down, a voiceover whispers, “Now, now, now.”
Directed by Talkington and presented by her own Vanguardian Productions and the ever-adventurous Crowded Fire Theater, “Time” is a dramatic exploration of what could happen if time as we know it starts to run out. At least, that’s what the program says it’s about. Read More
The plot of David Mamet’s latest play, “Race,” which premiered on Broadway in 2009, is as simple — and as freighted— as its title. The talky drama at American Conservatory Theater hits the ground running and for 80 minutes or so never slows down.A wealthy white man, Charles Strickland (Kevin O’Rourke) accused of raping a black woman in a hotel room, has arrived at a law firm claiming innocence. Read More
How fitting that the Jewish Theatre San Francisco opens its final, 34th season with “In the Maze of Our Own Lives,” a world premiere written and directed by co-founder Corey Fischer, and that the topic is an earlier (and much shorter-lived, at eight years) company, New York’s legendary Group Theatre. Like the influential Group, founded by Lee Strasberg, Harold Clurman and Cheryl Crawford in the 1930s, TJT also was founded by a trio: Fischer, Naomi Newman and Albert Greenberg. Read More
“Bad things don’t happen here. We live in a nice neighborhood,” intones a chorus of residents of an affluent suburb, at the beginning of Los Angeles playwright Steve Yockey’s provocative little satire-cum-super-scary-fairytale, “Bellwether.”This world premiere at Marin Theatre Company shocks and mocks in equal parts even as it preys upon every parent’s deepest fears. Read More