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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Division on display in fascinating Roe at Berkeley Rep

Mar 11

Division on display in fascinating <i>Roe</i> at Berkeley Rep

There is so much event and detail in Lisa Loomer's Roe – a brisk re-telling of the events and people involved in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade – that it feels like the world's speediest documentary, something you could only do on a mostly open stage, with actors making their costume quick changes in full view of the audience just so they can keep up. And by attempting to cover the (still unfolding) arc of the case, so much happens that, if it wasn't actually true, you'd never believe it.

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A spooky, funny slow burn in ACT’s John

Mar 10

A spooky, funny slow burn in ACT’s <i>John</i>

There are two Johns in Annie Baker's John, neither of whom we actually meet. One wreaked mental havoc on another person and the other is wreaking havoc on a relationship. Both feel like sinister external forces, but they are just two of many in this wonderfully bizarre, engrossingly enigmatic play by one of our country's most original and captivating voices.

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Fractured fairy tales shine in stripped-down Woods

Mar 09

Fractured fairy tales shine in stripped-down <i>Woods</i>

You've journeyed Into the Woods, but you haven't ever been into these woods.

When great musicals are revived, the first question has to be: why? Is it going to be another retread of a successful prior production? Or will it be a reinvention, a new take for a new time? Happily the latter is the case with the glorious Fiasco Theater re-imagining of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods.

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Humanity shines in ACT’s Splendid Suns

Feb 16

Humanity shines in ACT’s <i>Splendid Suns</i>

Let's be honest: sitting in a beautiful theater watching a well-crafted play is an absolute privilege, so where better to challenge our very notions of privilege and confront the reality that much of the world's population is having a very different experience than those of us sitting in the velvet seats? With a play like A Thousand Splendid Suns, the world-premiere adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's 2007 novel now at American Conservatory Theater's Geary Theater.

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