Jean Schiffman

Emily Ota, left, is excellent as Marianne and Nancy Rodriguez as Elinor in “Sense and Sensibility” in Ashland. (Courtesy Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival)

Classics and more in classy Oregon Shakespeare fest

Even a whirlwind trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland offers…

Emily Ota, left, is excellent as Marianne and Nancy Rodriguez as Elinor in “Sense and Sensibility” in Ashland. (Courtesy Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival)
From left, Aldo Billingslea, Jeremy Kahn and Emily Jeanne Brown appear in Aurora Theatre Company’s “Dry Powder.”  (Courtesy David Allen)

‘Dry Powder’ a chilling look at high finance

At one point in Sarah Burgess’ little gem of a play, “Dry…

From left, Aldo Billingslea, Jeremy Kahn and Emily Jeanne Brown appear in Aurora Theatre Company’s “Dry Powder.”  (Courtesy David Allen)
Mick Mize (foreground) and, from left, Lauren Andrei Garcia, Jessica Lea Risco, Gabriel Montoya, Tim Garcia are Millie Brooks are charming in Custom Made and Just Theater’s “Good. Better. Best. Bested.” (Courtesy Jay Yamada)

‘Good. Better. Best. Bested.’ a wild and whimsical Las Vegas-set comedy

Don’t worry about the awkward title. Jonathan Spector’s “Good. Better. Best. Bested.,”…

Mick Mize (foreground) and, from left, Lauren Andrei Garcia, Jessica Lea Risco, Gabriel Montoya, Tim Garcia are Millie Brooks are charming in Custom Made and Just Theater’s “Good. Better. Best. Bested.” (Courtesy Jay Yamada)
Emilio Delgado, foreground, plays the title character in California Shakespeare Theater’s “Quixote Nuevo”; in the back, from left, are Gianna DiGregorio  Rivera,  Juan  Amador, Carlos Aguirre and Amy Lizardo. (Courtesy Kevin Berne)

Cal Shakes’ ‘Quixote Nuevo’ fanciful yet inconsistent

In California Shakespeare Theater’s production of Octavio Solis’ gorgeous tapestry of a…

Emilio Delgado, foreground, plays the title character in California Shakespeare Theater’s “Quixote Nuevo”; in the back, from left, are Gianna DiGregorio  Rivera,  Juan  Amador, Carlos Aguirre and Amy Lizardo. (Courtesy Kevin Berne)
From left, Victor Talmadge, Wendy vanden Heuvel and Adrian Roberts appear in “A Lesson From Aloes” at Z Below. (Courtesy David Allen)

‘A Lesson from Aloes’ an ultimately affecting look at racism

In white South African playwright Athol Fugard’s 1979 three-hander “A Lesson from…

From left, Victor Talmadge, Wendy vanden Heuvel and Adrian Roberts appear in “A Lesson From Aloes” at Z Below. (Courtesy David Allen)
From left, Richard Thomas, Therese Plaehn, Pamela Reed, Lauren Klein, Daisy Eagan and Luis Vega appear in “The Humans” at the Orpheum. (Courtesy Julieta Cervantes)

‘The Humans’ foibles are all in the family

The humans who comprise the loving, rambunctious Irish-American Blake family in playwright…

From left, Richard Thomas, Therese Plaehn, Pamela Reed, Lauren Klein, Daisy Eagan and Luis Vega appear in “The Humans” at the Orpheum. (Courtesy Julieta Cervantes)
Martha Brigham, left, and Grace Ng play distraught high-schoolers in “Dry Land.” (Courtesy Ben Krantz Studios)

Over-the-top teen angst in Shotgun Players’ ‘Dry Land’

Unwanted pregnancy, confused sexuality, the yearning for a sense of belonging and…

Martha Brigham, left, and Grace Ng play distraught high-schoolers in “Dry Land.” (Courtesy Ben Krantz Studios)
Lucas Verbrugghe and Lori Prince appear in “An Entomologist’s Love Story” at San Francisco Playhouse. (Courtesy Jessica Palopoli)

‘Entomologist’s Love Story’ an affecting look at meeting and mating

“An Entomologist’s Love Story,” Melissa Ross’ world premiere at San Francisco Playhouse,…

Lucas Verbrugghe and Lori Prince appear in “An Entomologist’s Love Story” at San Francisco Playhouse. (Courtesy Jessica Palopoli)
Heidi Schreck wrote and appears in “What the Constitution Means to Me,” a funny, touching and educational show. (Courtesy Alessandra Mello/Berkeley Repertory Theatre)

Heidi Schreck’s ‘Constitution’ entertains, enlightens

“This is not a play,” announces playwright-performer Heidi Schreck at the beginning…

Heidi Schreck wrote and appears in “What the Constitution Means to Me,” a funny, touching and educational show. (Courtesy Alessandra Mello/Berkeley Repertory Theatre)
Joy Carlin, pictured with Thomas Gorrebeeck, plays the title character in Marin Theatre Company’s production of “Marjorie Prime. (Courtesy Kevin Berne)

‘Marjorie Prime’ provocatively mixes sci-fi, family drama

An elderly mother, Marjorie, has early-stage dementia. What does she remember, what…

Joy Carlin, pictured with Thomas Gorrebeeck, plays the title character in Marin Theatre Company’s production of “Marjorie Prime. (Courtesy Kevin Berne)
Brian Herndon, left, and Jackson Davis play noted Israeli scholars in “Two Minds.” (Courtesy David Allen)

‘Two Minds’ glimpses at complex psychologists

The brain teasers come fast and furious in local playwright Lynne Kaufman’s…

Brian Herndon, left, and Jackson Davis play noted Israeli scholars in “Two Minds.” (Courtesy David Allen)
From left, Micael Bogar, Lauren Hayes, Emily Stone, Britt Lauer, Baily Hopkins and Julie Douglas are excellent in We Players’ “Roman Women.” (Courtesy Lauren Matley)

We Players’ ‘Roman Women’ enthrall at Palace of Fine Arts

There’s an incantatory, mesmerizing quality to We Players’ “Roman Women,” which, with…

From left, Micael Bogar, Lauren Hayes, Emily Stone, Britt Lauer, Baily Hopkins and Julie Douglas are excellent in We Players’ “Roman Women.” (Courtesy Lauren Matley)
Eboni Flowers and James Udom, foreground, give moving performances in “Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts I, II and III.” (Courtesy American Conservatory Theater)

ACT’s ‘Father Comes Home’ a gripping Civil War epic

In Suzan-Lori Parks’ engrossing drama “Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts…

Eboni Flowers and James Udom, foreground, give moving performances in “Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts I, II and III.” (Courtesy American Conservatory Theater)
From left, Heklina, Adam Roy, Matthew Martin and Sara Moore appear in “Trog Live!” (Courtesy Gooch)

Hilarity ensues in Joan Crawford ‘Trog!’ spoof

As drag parodies go, producer D’Arcy Drollinger and the usual team of…

From left, Heklina, Adam Roy, Matthew Martin and Sara Moore appear in “Trog Live!” (Courtesy Gooch)
Asif Khan appears in four provocative monologues that make up Hassan Abdulrazzak’s “Love, Bombs & Apples,” onstage in its U.S. premiere presented by Golden Thread Productions. (Courtesy Mila Sanders)

Pesky Middle East politics at center in funny ‘Love, Bombs & Apples’

The title “Love, Bombs & Apples” doesn’t convey the scope of the…

Asif Khan appears in four provocative monologues that make up Hassan Abdulrazzak’s “Love, Bombs & Apples,” onstage in its U.S. premiere presented by Golden Thread Productions. (Courtesy Mila Sanders)
From left, Teddy Spencer, Lisa Anne Porter, Elizabeth Carter, Rolf Saxon and Charisse Loriaux appear in Jonathan Spector’s “Eureka Day,” an Aurora Theatre Company premiere. (Courtesy David Allen)

‘Eureka Day’ cleverly balances comedy, tragedy and political correctness

There’s a scene toward the end of the first act in local…

From left, Teddy Spencer, Lisa Anne Porter, Elizabeth Carter, Rolf Saxon and Charisse Loriaux appear in Jonathan Spector’s “Eureka Day,” an Aurora Theatre Company premiere. (Courtesy David Allen)
A family from the Philippines living in San Francisco is the subject of Magic Theatre’s premiere “The Gangster of Love.”  (Courtesy Jennifer Reiley)

Epic immigrant story loses focus in Magic’s ‘Gangster of Love’

The most interesting character in “The Gangster of Love,” Jessica Hagedorn’s Magic…

A family from the Philippines living in San Francisco is the subject of Magic Theatre’s premiere “The Gangster of Love.”  (Courtesy Jennifer Reiley)
The multi-talented ensemble of “Iron Shoes” includes, from left, Melanie Elms, Rowena Richie and Erin Mei-Ling Stuart. (Courtesy Ben Krantz Studio)

‘Iron Shoes’ a magical, modern fairy tale

Shotgun Players’ latest world premiere “Iron Shoes,” a multidisciplinary fairytale for modern…

The multi-talented ensemble of “Iron Shoes” includes, from left, Melanie Elms, Rowena Richie and Erin Mei-Ling Stuart. (Courtesy Ben Krantz Studio)
Joe Estlack and Connie Hall play participants in a clinical trial for an antidepressant in “The Effect” at San Francisco Playhouse. (Courtesy Jessica Palopoli)

Intriguing ‘Effect’ explores science of human feelings

British playwright Lucy Prebble has achieved the rare feat, in her 2012…

Joe Estlack and Connie Hall play participants in a clinical trial for an antidepressant in “The Effect” at San Francisco Playhouse. (Courtesy Jessica Palopoli)
James Carpenter and Sarah Grace Wilson play the presumably odd couple in American Conservatory Theater’s production of “Heisenberg.” (Courtesy Kevin Berne)

Much about ACT’s ‘Heisenberg’ feels very familiar

You don’t need to know anything about early-20th-century German physicist Werner Heisenberg’s…

James Carpenter and Sarah Grace Wilson play the presumably odd couple in American Conservatory Theater’s production of “Heisenberg.” (Courtesy Kevin Berne)