Splendid visuals in Lepage’s Needles and Opium at ACT

Apr 06

Splendid visuals in Lepage’s <i>Needles and Opium</i> at ACT

With Needles and Opium, writer, director and theatrical visionary Robert Lepage has created a show that will be remembered – not necessarily for what it's about but definitely for the way it looks.

What began as a 1991 one-man show performed by Lepage himself in his native Québec City has evolved into a theatrical marvel, the kind of show that creates one jaw-dropping image after another.

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Delight and loss dance through Magic’s Waltz revival

Mar 30

Delight and loss dance through Magic’s <i>Waltz</i> revival

Any of us would be lucky – beyond lucky – to be as loved as Paula Vogel's brother Carl. The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (who, after nearly 50 years as one of the country's preeminent playwrights, will see her first Broadway opening next month with Indecent) wrote The Baltimore Waltz a year after Carl died of complications from AIDS. This is her tribute to him, a love letter from sister to brother, but she accomplishes this with such offbeat originality, whimsy and heart that there's no room for sentimentality or feeble clichés about love and loss.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Magic Theatre has revived The Baltimore Waltz 25 years after hosting its West Coast premiere.

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Comedy is off in SF Playhouse Noises

Mar 29

Comedy is off in SF Playhouse <i>Noises</i>

Every actor in San Francisco Playhouse's Noises Off, the celebrated and oft-performed Michael Frayn ode to theater and theater people disguised as a knock-down, drag-out farce, has a wonderful moment or two. Perhaps a bit of inspired comic business, a sweet connection with another actor or a clever way of twisting a laugh from dialogue. But as appealing as the cast can be, the whole of this farce never comes together.

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Hamilton in SF: Re-creating America

Mar 24

<i>Hamilton</i> in SF: Re-creating America

If you love Hamilton, and let me say for the record that I love Hamilton, there's a whole lot to love, including, now, a new company in my hometown. After the Chicago company, which began performances last fall, this new one is what would be considered the national touring company. It's here until August as part of the SHN season before heading to Los Angeles. The full Broadway creative team is represented here, and at Thursday's opening-night production, the show shone through the hype with clarity, excitement and emotional heft.

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Aurora’s Leni asks: Great artist, Nazi sympathizer or both?

Mar 17

Aurora’s <i>Leni</i> asks: Great artist, Nazi sympathizer or both?

As a dramatic work, Sarah Greenman's Leni about the German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, has to juggle history, artistry and, now, discomfiting parallels to our own time. Was Riefenstahl the right artist at the wrong time? Was her extraordinary talent as a filmmaker overshadowed by Hitler and the Nazi party? Or was she a Nazi sympathizer and, consequently, as the show puts it, "a willing architect of Nazi mythology and, worse, an accomplice to genocide?

There aren't any easy answers in this 85-minute one-act play now at the intimate Harry's UpStage space at the Aurora Theatre Company.

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Sisters’ paths diverge in Crowded Fire’s You for Me for You

Mar 14

Sisters’ paths diverge in Crowded Fire’s <i>You for Me for You</i>

Sort of an Alice in Wonderland for our topsy-turvy times, Mia Chung's You for Me for You takes us through a very specific lookingglass: a refugee's experience attempting to flee North Korea.

Like any good leap of imagination, this one begins grounded in reality.

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Eclipsed demands attention at the Curran

Mar 12

<i>Eclipsed</i> demands attention at the Curran

Danai Gurira's intense, harrowing drama Eclipsed really only appeals to two kinds of people: those who care about women and those who care about basic human decency. Anyone else should stay home (or in the White House).

The history of humanity has not been kind to either of those groups, and Gurira offers a stark reminder that our so-called evolution hasn't progressed very far.

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