Curran brilliance continues with stunning Ghost Quartet

Oct 24

Curran brilliance continues with stunning <i>Ghost Quartet</i>

Before I rhapsodize about the incredible Ghost Quartet now at the Curran Theatre as part of the Curran: Under Construction series, can I just say how extraordinary this series has been so far? This is the third show following The Events (review here) and The Object Lesson (review here), and so far, producer Carole Shorenstein Hays is batting a million (I don't know sports).

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Hypocrites’ Pirates sets sail at Berkeley Rep

Oct 23

Hypocrites’ <i>Pirates</i> sets sail at Berkeley Rep

The Hypocrites' Pirates of Penzance is one part Yo ho! and one part Yo, ho! Which is to say, this is not your great-grandparents' Gilbert and Sullivan, and what a blessed relief that is. No wonder Berkeley Repertory Theatre seized the opportunity to present this Pirates as part of its season.

Not that there's anything wrong with G&S, but I have been tortured by Pirates and Mikados in the past and...

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Charm and romance bubble up in Berkeley Rep’s Amélie

Sep 13

Charm and romance bubble up in Berkeley Rep’s <i>Amélie</i>

In this age of illusory connection, a story of isolation told through music seems more necessary than ever. Connection with the world and people in it is a central theme of Amélie, the whimsical 2001 film, and it's even more pronounced in the world-premiere musical version of the story now at Berkeley Repertory Theatre's Roda Theatre.

The whimsy has been turned down (not altogether), but the charm and romance have increased ...

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This is the time: Anna Deavere Smith at Berkeley Rep

Jul 16

This is the time: Anna Deavere Smith at Berkeley Rep

If you've ever seen a show by our foremost docudramatist, Anna Deavere Smith, you know the power she has over an audience. She conducts extensive interviews on her chosen topic, then she re-creates portions of those interviews an a cannily crafted show that is theatrical in its presentation and righteous in its political and emotional power. She makes her audience think, feel and converse for days (and beyond). Now, with Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education, The California Chapter at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, she is going even further. She's turning her show into a full-blown seminar.

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One man, two guvnors & 102 belly laughs

May 16

One man, two guvnors & 102 belly laughs

Francis Henshall may be one sandwich short of a picnic, as they say, but that's one of many reasons One Man, Two Guvnors is so much fun. Francis' hunger literally drives the first act's zaniness, and truth be told, once that hunger is satisfied, the farce loses a bit (but certainly not all) of its oomph. Thankfully there's a perky skiffle band on stage to keep things bouncing along.

Oh, if only all adaptations could be this fun. When playwright Richard Bean decided to pull Carlo Goldoni's 18th-century comedy into a specific time and place in the 20th century – Brighton, England, 1963 – he did so with an eye to heightening and broadening the comedy from its Venetian origins.

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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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