American film star (and, not incidentally, Old Vic artistic director) Kevin Spacey’s portrayal of Shakespeare’s titular villain begins in such an uncompromisingly evil vein that there is almost no place for the actor to go as the three-and-a-half-hour drama proceeds, except to get, well — eviler.Which Spacey in fact does, to impressive effect in “Richard III,” onstage at the Curran Theatre. Hampered by a full leg brace, a twisted foot, a crouching posture and a hump, his Richard is, for better or for worse, a scoundrel for the ages. Read More
American Conservatory Theater associate artistic director Mark Rucker first staged the 1930 George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart Hollywood satire “Once in a Lifetime” as a 2009 project for the conservatory’s masters of fine arts students.
It’s now been sumptuously remounted as this season’s opener, with both students and professionals playing multiple roles. But what makes for an enjoyable workout for emerging actors is not necessarily an inspiring mainstage show. Read More
In the program for SF Playhouse’s West Coast premiere of “Honey Brown Eyes,” there’s an insert titled “What Happened in Bosnia?”What indeed? The Bosnian War of the early 1990s, which followed the breakup of Yugoslavia, involved Serbs and Croats; Muslims, Catholics and Orthodox; Bosnia and Herzegovina and more. It was confusing and difficult to understand at the time, even for those who lived there, let alone for us to remember now. Read More
Comedian Marga Gomez’s Wikipedia page says she was born in 1960. But in her hilarious new solo show about aging, she says that date was a typo and she’s actually not that old.
She ought to know. She created her own Wikipedia entry, and now, she claims, she’s forgotten her password and can’t access the site to fix the error.
Of course, as she cheerfully admits, she has a tendency to lie. Read More
The number of different characters that San Francisco actor/clown Sara Moore inhabits – and I mean completely channels, right down to the last, telling detail – in her new solo show “Sho Ho” is astounding. You’ve probably never seen a performer take on such a variety of funny, quirky personae and segue so fluidly among them. Read More
Private investigator Lili (a luminous Lauren English) is a lovelorn lesbian. Her dysfunctional sister, Mary (Maggie Mason, charmingly hyperactive), who imagines herself as Joan of Arc, is on the lam. Their mother, Eleanor (a powerfully focused Lorri Holt), is missing in action, but we know where she is: on a solitary wilderness expedition to reinvent herself. There’s a fourth woman, too, played with captivating alacrity by Rebecca Dines: Renee, a paleontologist whom we first see delivering a lecture about dinosaurs. Read More
In comedian Zahra Noorbakhsh’s solo autobiographical play about informing her Iranian-immigrant, Muslim parents that her boyfriend, Duncan, is moving in with her, her father — struggling to fully comprehend that Duncan is an atheist — delivers a theory that explicates the show’s perplexing title: “All Atheists are Muslim.” Noorbakhsh has created a detailed enough portrait of her intelligent, bombastic and loving father that his pronouncement is both funny and enlightening — and it’s the most interesting nugget in Noorbakhsh’s padded, disappointingly sitcom-like show. Read More
“In the beginning there was the word,” intones WM. Hunter in the riveting opening moments of the world premiere of local literary luminary Jewelle Gomez’s new “dream play,” “Waiting for Giovanni” onstage at New Conservatory Theatre Center. Hunter is not only an entrancing actor, but he’s also a startling James Baldwin look-alike and embodies that central character in authentic and impassioned ways.The confluence of Hunter’s seamless portrayal and Gomez’s penetrating, poetic and empathetic look at the author’s inner turmoil is largely what makes this play resonate. Read More
In creating her story of two young women in love, Jane Austen cast such an empathetic and amused eye on the manners and mores of her time — and wrote so gracefully, and with such sly humor and deep understanding of the female heart, that her many novels have endured for two centuries.
Along the way, they’ve been transformed into entertaining plays and musicals as well as films and TV miniseries. Read More
Local playwright Lauren Gunderson’s edgy comedy (the amusing title is from the famous stage direction in Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale”) is not the first play in which a vengeful woman ties down a man and rants at him — think Ariel Dorfman’s “Death and the Maiden,” for one. But this rolling world premiere (an agreement among Crowded Fire Theater Company and two theaters, in Atlanta and Seattle, respectively) boasts an unusual concept. Read More
Maybe I got lucky on the opening night of the improvisational puppet show “Stuffed and Unstrung,” created by Brian Henson (son of famed Muppet master Jim Henson) and improv talent Patrick Bristow, who emcees.
But I don’t think so. Read More
In her director’s notes in the press packet for Bathwater Productions’ “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Anne Marie Bookwalter, who’s also the company’s cofounder and artistic director, says that she’s always been drawn to the play but was afraid of tackling it.She probably should have listened to her intuition and chosen something more suited to the company’s current skill level.Not that this attractive and youthfully charming hometown ensemble — some trained in circus arts, acrobatics and musical theater — doesn’t have a lot going for it. Read More
In Central Works’ “Reduction in Force,” bespectacled Anita Green (Jan Zvaifler) is faced with a dilemma.
The reluctant heroine of Patricia Milton’s very funny, three-character spoof of our ongoing economic crisis, Anita is a longtime executive secretary at Icarus Wealth Management Group.
She may be on the verge of being downsized by her boss: stiletto-heeled Gabby Deeds (Kendra Lee Oberhauser), a parody of an avaricious, ruthless and morally bankrupt financial manager. Read More
From the beginning, when the onstage ghost light fizzles out with a comical “phht!,” it’s clear that “Fly by Night” is going to be a cleverly entertaining show.
But more than that, it’s a sweetly affecting and at times unsettling quasi-fairytale of lost and missed love, the nature of grief and the vagaries of fate. Add in a couple dozen captivating songs, a live, four-person band and a great cast, and the result is a truly beguiling new musical. It’s the centerpiece of TheatreWorks’ summer New Works Festival. Read More
The idea for Thunderbird Theatre Company’s new comedy is irresistibly funny, starting with the title, “Salty Towers,” calling to mind, of course, the British TV series “Fawlty Towers” starring John Cleese.In “Salty,” Poseidon, “the most underappreciated” of the gods, runs an underwater hotel. He’s competing to host the first Olympics, so he’s anxious to make a good impression when the judging committee arrives, including his all-powerful brother, Zeus — “a mighty god with mighty needs” that include an unsavory penchant for certain sea creatures’ blowholes. Read More