Trials, tribulations in powerful Passes at Berkeley Rep

Apr 18

Trials, tribulations in powerful <i>Passes</i> at Berkeley Rep

Some houses leak when it rains. For Shelah, the deluge inside is almost as severe as the one outside, and that's just the water. The metaphorical flood – of tragedy – has only just begun.

Tarell Alvin McCraney's Head of Passes, a co-production of Berkeley Repertory Theatre and New York's Public Theater, takes its cue from Job, the world's most famous sufferer and faith questioner. This time out, the one who will pray on bended knee and shake her fist at God is Shelah, the matriarch of a family whose Louisiana home sits where three forks of the Mississippi River come together in a wetlands area known as Head of Passes.

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Berkeley Rep’s tart and tangy Tartuffe keeps the faith

Mar 21

Berkeley Rep’s tart and tangy <i>Tartuffe</i> keeps the faith

Faith is one of the most valuable and powerful things human beings have to give away, and anyone who takes advantage of that faith with anything less than sincerity and devotion qualifies as the most heinous of villains. That's why Molière's Tartuffe is so damn funny...and dark...and unsettling.

The oft-banned 1667 satirical comedy has had a long history of production and controversy over the last 350 years, and director Dominique Serrand's new production – a co-production of South Coast Repertory (where it opened), Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. – add an admirable chapter to the play's history.

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Gardley gets a Glickman

Feb 04

Gardley gets a Glickman

Oakland playwright Marcus Gardley is the winner of the Will Glickman Award for the best new play to have its premiere in the Bay Area in 2014. The play is The House that will not Stand, loosely based on Federico Garcìa Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba, which had its premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in February of 2014. Read my review of the show here.

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Love and loathing in Berkeley Rep’s football drama

Jan 24

Love and loathing in Berkeley Rep’s football drama

A critic's personal feelings or attachment to a subject are often irrelevant when it comes to writing about a particular play. But in the case of Berkeley Repertory Theatre's world premiere of X'x and O's (A Football Love Story), I feel I have to disclose a strong personal bias. I loathe football. LOATHE it, and have all my life. That's my dad and my brother's territory. I'll be in my room canoodling with stereotypes and listening to Broadway cast albums. Sports in general have never interested me much, but no other sporting activity do I actively detest and strenuously ignore as much as loud, violent, overblown football.

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A hitch in the getalong: Looking back at 2014′s best

Dec 22

A hitch in the getalong: Looking back at 2014′s best

Reviewing the shows I reviewed this year, I was struck by two things: first, and as usual, there’s an abundance of talented people doing great work at all levels of Bay Area theater; second, this was a lesser year in Bay Area theater. Perhaps the reason for the later has to do with the changes in the Bay Area itself – artists are fleeing outrageous rents,...

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Kathleen Turner kicks ass in Red Hot Patriot

Nov 26

Kathleen Turner kicks ass in <i>Red Hot Patriot</i>

The moral of the story seems to be: if you're going to kick some political ass, make sure you're wearing red cowboy boots – and it helps to have a brain, a fire in your belly (fueled, no doubt, by some hooch) and a sense of humor fueled by a larger-than-average intellect.

It seems Molly Ivins had all of the above, at least the Molly we meet in Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins now on stage at Berkeley Repertory Theatre's Roda Theatre. Ostensibly a one-woman play about Texas' leading red-haired liberal crusader with a typewriter, the play stars Kathleen Turner as Ivins

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