From left, Colin Epstein, Julie Mahony, David Silpa, Zach Fischer and Jenny McAllister appear in “Next Time, I’ll Take the Stairs.” (Courtesy Robbie Sweeny)

From left, Colin Epstein, Julie Mahony, David Silpa, Zach Fischer and Jenny McAllister appear in “Next Time, I’ll Take the Stairs.” (Courtesy Robbie Sweeny)

13th Floor’s ‘Stairs’ is whimsical, watchable

Five limber, uniquely expressive performers go on a wild ride in 13th Floor’s “Next Time, I’ll Take the Stairs.”

Engaging, sometimes perplexing and always fun to watch, the 65-minute show onstage at the Joe Goode Annex in The City has a distinctive “Alice in Wonderland” feel. It even has a character named Rabbit, played by 13th Floor Artistic Director Jenny McAllister, who wrote the wacky yet provocative script and designed the evocative sound.

The leader of the San Francisco troupe, which calls what it does “comic theater that moves,” clearly has worked closely with her four actor-dancer-acrobat collaborators; all are equally adept with words and movement.

The often dense,literary yet nonsensical text (reminiscent of Lewis Carroll) melds delightfully with seemingly nonstop motion. The artists simultaneously talk (and sometimes yell or cry) as they tumble, balance, lean on or tug at each other.

In a series of 13 episodes, the theater’s black box becomes an elevator (and elevator shaft the characters fall down), a lake, a hall of insects and a labyrinth; the only props are a couple of cell phones and a wrench.

The show begins as the often angry Otis (David Silpa), who’s missing a rib and carrying a wrench, meets pink-haired Ivy (Julie Mahony), who has a soft spot for people who talk too much. They wait for an elevator that’s only going one way, and get into a conversation that takes a lot of turns. (And they cannot turn left.)

After a thunderous crash and darkness, lights (with excellent design by Allen Willner), come up on Rabbit and her younger brothers Norris (Colin Epstein) and Arthur (Zach Fischer). Doing handstands, and moving in concert with each other, they wander around the space, lost. Arthur, apparently, in charge, assures the sensitive, jittery Rabbit “everything will be fine.”

They come upon Otis, who is missing his soul (and apparently has Arthur’s phone), and meet Ivy, whose brain is “roaring fire,” who never forgets anything.

In other scenes, Ivy discovers a dead bird in Rabbit’s pocket (she works in a natural history museum) and meets up with Norris, a puzzle aficionado who writes formulas in chalk on the floor.

A few solos showcase Silpa and Mahony doing slightly more traditional dance, and green-lit sequences put the performers against the wall, literally.

Music by eight composers, ranging from pleasant lilting melodies, to dark, haunting and suspenseful sounds, perfectly complements the script and movement.

Keriann Egeland’s whimsical, storybook costumes look swell on Epstein, Fischer, Mahony, McAllister and Silpa, whose heart, joy, grace, athleticism and humor make “Next Time, I’ll Take the Stairs” a one-of-a-kind experience.

REVIEW
Next Time, I’ll Take the Stairs
Presented by 13th Floor
Where: Joe Goode Annex, 401 Alabama St., S.F.
When 8 p.m. Dec. 15-17, 7 p.m. Dec. 18
Tickets: $15 to $40
Contact: joegoode.org/box-office13th FloorDanceDavid Silpa. Colin Epstein]I’ll Take the StairsJenny McAllisterJoe Goode AnnexJulie MahonyNext TimeTheaterZach Fischer

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Traffic on 19th Avenue. (Photo courtesy Shutterstock)
Construction on 19th Avenue to begin Monday, traffic delays expected

Officials encourage drivers to take alternate routes, factor in longer travel times

Those who stick around San Francisco on long holiday weekends can enjoy a slower pace, uncrowded streets and beloved institutions like cable cars. <ins>(Kevin Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
These empty San Francisco streets: A holiday dream

We’re here because we can be, and because we have nowhere else to be

Quarterback Nick Mullens is expected to get his third straight start Sunday. Mullens is 46 of 73 for 538 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions in his other two starts this season. <ins>(Chris Victorio / Special to S.F. Examiner).</ins>
49ers trying to turn season around in Sunday’s prime-time faceoff with the Rams

49ers at Rams When: Sunday, 1:05 p.m. Where: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood TV:… Continue reading

Psilocybin magic mushrooms (Shutterstock)
‘Magic mushrooms’ moving into the mainstream

Efforts to decriminalize psychedelics could follow several different paths

The 2020 Census has concluded taking responses sooner than expected. (Courtesy photo)
What does California have to lose if undocumented immigrants are excluded from the census?

By Kim Bojórquez The Sacramento Bee If The U.S. Supreme Court rules… Continue reading

Most Read