Lots to unpack in Crowded Fire’s Shipment

Sep 27

Lots to unpack in Crowded Fire’s <i>Shipment</i>

While Secretary Clinton and The Orange Bloviator were duking it out at the first presidential debate and helping the populace decide the fate of this troubled nation, Crowded Fire Theater was painting its own portrait of America at the opening of Young Jean Lee's The Shipment at the Thick House.

It was an incendiary evening for several reasons, not the least of which was the actual heat wave baking San Francisco.

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ACT crowns a glorious King Charles III

Sep 22

ACT crowns a glorious <i>King Charles III</i>

What will happen when Queen Elizabeth, Great Britain's longest reigning queen, leaves the throne? In a hefty helping of royal speculation, playwright Mike Bartlett takes on that question, but does so by way of Shakespeare with a soupçon of Notting Hill.

The result is King Charles III a new history play that traffics in family drama, parliamentary procedure, the liberties of the fourth estate and everything we think we know about Charles, Camilla, William, Kate and Harry. There's sensation and substance, comedy and some genuine emotion mixed in with provocative observations on the relevance of the monarchy in the 21st century.

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Life on the precipice: Remembering Edward Albee

Sep 17

Life on the precipice: Remembering Edward Albee

A towering giant has fallen. Edward Albee has died at 88.

A playwright who forged his own way and wielded his distinctive voice with lacerating skill, Albee helped define theater as we know and practice it today.

I sat down with Albee in 1997 when his Three Tall Women (one of three Albee plays to win the Pulitzer) was playing the Herbst Theatre. He was 69, and though he had a lot to say, he said it quietly, almost mumbling.

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Simple command: Catch Caught. Now.

Sep 15

Simple command: Catch <i>Caught</i>. Now.

Watching Christopher Chen's new play Caught in its sublime Shotgun Players production is, in a word, disorienting, and that's a good thing. Even clever folk who think they have it all figured out and are hip to what's going on in this mind-twisting play will experience something new here, and it may not be apparent until they leave the theater. Your trust in what is real, what is true (a major theme of the play), will likely have been somewhat shifted. The absurd things that happen to us on a regular basis and all the things we assume are true suddenly seem challenging and connected, as if we've stepped into a Chen play ourselves.

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Theater Dogs at 10: A not-so-gala tencennial

Sep 13

Theater Dogs at 10: A not-so-gala tencennial

On August 1, 2006, a little theater blog called Theater Dogs (thank you, Paul Rudnick for the name and for the story behind the name) came into being, and 10 years later, here we are.

As the 10th anniversary approached, I thought about how I might like to celebrate. Perhaps a party where theater people might imbibe generously and give me fodder for turning this into a gossip rag. Perhaps a limited edition T-shirt followed by posts full of photos of readers wearing the T-shirt (I've actually wanted to do that for years). Maybe nothing at all. Or maybe, just maybe, it was time to let Theater Dogs crawl back into the dog house from whence it came.

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Race, politics, compassion at odds in riveting Confederates

Jul 17

Race, politics, compassion at odds in riveting <i>Confederates</i>

A troubled presidential campaign provides the setting for Suzanne Bradbeer's Confederates, a thrilling world-premiere drama from TheatreWorks Silicon Valley now at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto. Developed, in part, at TheatreWorks' New Works Festival, this three-person one-act slices into the heart of modern politics and journalism. Bradbeer comes from a realistic perspective in terms of the degradation of modern journalism and the obfuscating chaos surrounding a presidential campaign, but she might rely on types – the noble young journalism, the crusty older journalist, the naive candidate's daughter – those types deepen into characters with depth, complication and easily relatable flaws, ambitions and conundrums.

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Grins, gams and gumshoes in SF Playhouse Angels

Jul 14

Grins, gams and gumshoes in SF Playhouse <i>Angels</i>

It's real vs. reel in the San Francisco Playhouse summer musical, City of Angels, a delightfully jazzy take on film noir, greed the constant battle between commerce and art.

This 1989 Broadway hit, with a dazzling score by the great Cy Coleman (music) and David Zippel (lyrics) and a genuinely funny book by Larry Gelbart is a real treat, and it's nice to see that SF Playhouse's musicals just get stronger and stronger.

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