Party People at Berkeley Rep: Necessary

Oct 25

<i>Party People</i> at Berkeley Rep: Necessary

There are ovations and there are ovations. The opening of an envelope gets a standing ovation these days, so the stand and clap doesn't really mean much anymore. But at the opening night of UNIVERSES' Party People at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the audience was instantly on its collective feet at show's end, applauding thunderously, shouting and hooting. The appreciative cast bowed, expressed gratitude and exited the stage. The house lights came on, and still the clamor continued. A few audience members exited the theater, but mostly the noise grew in intensity until the surprised cast had to return to the stage and bow yet again.

It seemed a fittingly over-the-top reaction to an ambitious, over-the-top show that leaves you feeling moved by the wheels of history and the vagaries of the human heart.

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Berkeley Rep’s Meow Meow: It’s all feline and dandy

Sep 13

Berkeley Rep’s <i>Meow Meow</i>: It’s all feline and dandy

You get the impression, watching An Audience with Meow Meow that the star, a self-styled international singing sensation, and director Emma Rice would like nothing better than to destroy the theater and finish the show from the rubble. While audience members wipe blood from their faces and grapple with their broken bones, Meow Meow will persist in singing, making jokes and lamenting the state of the world. Stripped of all theatrical artifice, artist and audience will become one, and art will have saved the world.

That doesn't happen – well, not exactly. But Meow Meow and Rice do what they can to deconstruct a nightclub act and turn it into a substantial piece of theater.

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Kushner unleashes a familial flood of words at Berkeley Rep

May 22

Kushner unleashes a familial flood of words at Berkeley Rep

There are probably more English words in Tony Kushner's new play than not in the new play. So many things about The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures are staggering (including the title), but chief among them is the amount of dialogue – the number of choice words, the overlapping layers of lively conversation, the sheer volume of communication, attempted and otherwise.

If Angels in America was Kushner at his most Kushnerian – fantastical, political, emotional, hysterical, profound – then iHo (as the play is known) is Kushner at his most ktichen sink-ian.

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Exploring extraordinary Tribes at Berkeley Rep

Apr 17

Exploring extraordinary <i>Tribes</i> at Berkeley Rep

There is not another drama about family, about communication, about the very essence of language like Nina Raine's Tribes. The 2010 British play now on Berkeley Repertory Theatre's Thrust Stage is among the funniest, most moving and deeply engaging shows we're likely to see this year

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Fo-pas: Laughing (or not) through Accidental Death

Mar 13

Fo-pas: Laughing (or not) through <i>Accidental Death</i>

Maybe you have to be in the right mood for a satirically slapstick political farce. I can tell you I was definitely in no mood for satirically slapstick political farce – not that I knew that when I sat down to watch the Berkeley Repertory Theatre/Yale Repertory Theatre production of Accidental Death of an Anarchist by Dario Fo.

The last time director Christopher Bayes and his merry band of clowns came to Berkeley Rep – two years ago with Molière's A Doctor in Spite of Himself (read my review here), I was thoroughly delighted by the expertly calibrated zaniness. Now...

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Gardley’s House stands best when it sings

Feb 08

Gardley’s <i>House</i> stands best when it sings

Music is so ingrained in New Orleans culture that it's no surprise when a play set in the area turns out to be full of wonderful choral singing, voodoo chanting and other musical surprises. But what's interesting about Marcus Gardley's The House that will not Stand, now receiving its world premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, is that music elevates the show in ways the plot and characters do not.

This play about a mixed-race family in New Orleans circa 1836 really wants to be a musical.

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