It’s a good month for the furniture department: First, Cutting Ball’s brilliant “The Chairs.” Now, 3Girls Theatre’s welcome revival of San Francisco writer Lynne Kaufman’s award-winning play “The Couch.”
A fictionalized day in the life of psychotherapy pioneers Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung; Jung’s wife, Emma; and his mistress, Toni, the show premiered at Magic Theatre in 1985.
Directed here by Amy Glazer with great panache, it features a stellar cast, right down to 10-year-old Hattie Rose Allen Bellino as Jung’s daughter, Katherine. Read More
The adventurous Mugwumpin’s new production, “The Great Big Also,” has a lot going for it: an intriguing title; an eight-member ensemble with all the requisite vocal, movement and emotive skills; a potentially rich premise; and an imaginative setup. Read More
Cutting Ball Theater’s current staging of mid-20th-century French playwright Eugene Ionesco’s “The Chairs” is probably one of the best theater of the absurd productions to be seen locally — ever.The almost-entirely-two-character tragic farce, or farcical tragedy, is blessed with numerous advantages: A new translation by artistic director Rob Melrose, who turned some of Ionesco’s nonsensical French wordplay into equally nonsensical English-language wordplay. Read More
Occasionally actors appear in roles they seem born to play. Such is the case in Central Works’ “Dostoevsky’s The Grand Inquisitor.” It’s an adaptation, by the small company’s longtime resident playwright Gary Graves, of a story told by one of the characters in the 19th-century Russian novelist’s “The Brothers Karamazov.” Read More
It’s understandable that the stellar literary theater company Word for Word decided to stage “The Last Stand” and “Gold Star” in choosing among the linked short stories that comprise “You Know When the Men Are Gone,” Siobhan Fallon’s acclaimed book about life at Fort Hood, a military base in Texas.In “The Last Stand,” a young male soldier, Kit, has just returned home from more than a year in Iraq, wounded, to find that his wife is about to leave him. Read More
It’s understandable that the stellar literary theater company Word for Word decided to stage “The Last Stand” and “Gold Star” in choosing among the linked short stories that comprise “You Know When the Men Are Gone,” Siobhan Fallon’s acclaimed book about life at Fort Hood, a military base in Texas.
In “The Last Stand,” a young male soldier, Kit, has just returned home from more than a year in Iraq, wounded, to find that his wife is about to leave him. Read More
Stephen Adly Guirgis’ comedy-drama “The Motherf**ker with the Hat” begins so explosively in its excellent SF Playhouse production, it’s hard to imagine where it can go from there.
What’s so great about the play, which opened on Broadway in 2011, and about Bill English’s fearless direction, is that it goes to lots of places — places that are at various times violent, comic, profane and poignant. Read More
When local playwright Tanya Shaffer first imagined “The Fourth Messenger,” a musical world premiere opening in previews today in Berkeley, she was on a meditation retreat.
She found herself thinking of the moment centuries ago when, according to legend, Siddhartha Gautama sat under the bodhi tree and refused to get up until he was enlightened. Various forces tried to lure him away, a scene Shaffer suddenly pictured as a highly theatrical song and dance of the temptations. Read More
At the beginning of San Francisco-based playwright Octavio Solis’ riveting new drama, “Se Llama Cristina,” premiering at Magic Theatre, a couple is slumped in a drug-induced stupor at a Formica table in a bare, seedy room.
Surfacing, they’re so wrecked they don’t even know their own names, let alone where they are and why, and who the other person is. The man is horrified to see a needle sticking out of his own arm and drug paraphernalia on the table.
“I never shoot up!” he declares. Read More
You may think you don’t know what a “manic pixie dream girl” is — that’s the title of Katie May’s new play, a PlayGround-commissioned world premiere at the tiny Costume Shop — but you do. Think Annie Hall. Think Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Think Zooey Deschanel. Apparently the term was coined by a film critic.
As explained during the course of this short, crisp and devilishly entertaining comedy, it refers to the generically adorable, free-spirited girl-woman who shows up in movies to rescue the brooding, troubled male and teach him about the joys of life. Read More
Toward the end of the second act of Matthew Lopez’s family-drama-with-dance, “Somewhere” — receiving a regional premiere at TheatreWorks — things suddenly get very real.
Alejandro (Michael Rosen), hardworking eldest son and head of his close-knit Puerto Rican family by default (Pops is an absentee father), has a meltdown and confesses long-held secrets. Soon after, things draw to a bittersweet finale.
If only the entire play were that emotionally engaging. But it’s not. Read More
Sometimes it’s possible to be captivated by a play about ordinary people in ordinary circumstances — a play in which nothing particularly dynamic or transformative happens, and in which the dialogue is not particularly profound or lyrical or clever.
Such was the case for me with New York playwright Amy Herzog’s “4000 Miles,” which premiered at Lincoln Center in 2011. Its success here is in large part due to American Conservatory Theater’s flawless production by a four-actor ensemble under the direction of Mark Rucker. Read More
It may be an old chestnut, but playwright John Van Druten’s romantic comedy “Bell, Book and Candle,” adapted for a 1958 film starring Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart, comes to surprisingly luminous life in San Francisco Playhouse’s current staging.
Bored and restless witch Gillian is attracted to a neighbor, Shep, in her Manhattan, N.Y., high-rise. When she discovers he’s engaged to her college nemesis, she can’t resist using her magical powers to seduce him. Read More
There’s an undeniable charm to Theatre Rhinoceros artistic director John Fisher’s latest work, “Slugs and Kicks.” Set in the 1980s, it’s a sweet coming-of-age comedy, rather than specifically a coming-out-of-the-closet play, as one might expect from our oldest LGBT theater.
Narrator Rory (Ben Calabrese), a virginal college student at the mythical Purgatoria State University in “a long, Western state,” is studying acting. Read More
The talent assembled at Marin Theatre Company for “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” dazzles.It’s that talent, both onstage and behind the scenes — not the text or concept — that’s memorable here. Joe Landry adapted the 1947 Frank Capra film into a 1940s-style live radio show, but for no good reason one can discern. The drama was first produced in 1996. Read More