Smart, creepy Nether wows at SF Playhouse

Jan 25

Smart, creepy <i>Nether</i> wows at SF Playhouse

There aren't that many plays with the power to totally creep you out and entertain you mightily. Such is the power of Jennifer Haley's The Nether at San Francisco Playhouse in a production that is stunning in all the right ways.

The play is only 80 minutes, but it packs a mighty wallop. Here you have a play that is, ostensibly, about the rape and murder of children, but it's not horrific. It's nifty sci-fi trick is to set the action in the near future when virtual reality has become a big part of life.

Read More

SF Playhouse offers a sweet, satisfying Kiss

Nov 22

SF Playhouse offers a sweet, satisfying <i>Kiss</i>

San Francisco Playhouse puckers up and offers a nice juicy kiss for the holidays in Stage Kiss a delightfully daffy theatrical spin with a touch of real-life melancholy.

This is the first time we've seen Ruhl's play in San Francisco, but the whole Bay Area is alive with the sounds of Ruhl's empathetic, intelligent, often mystical take on life.

There's a reason Ruhl reigns over theater here (and across the country)...

Read More

Performances make Dogfight musical sing

Oct 01

Performances make <i>Dogfight</i> musical sing

There are two very good reasons to see the musical Dogfight at San Francisco Playhouse. The 2012 stage adaptation of the 1991 movie starring River Phoenix and Lili Taylor has its moments (mostly thanks to the emotional score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul), but what really makes it connect are the lead performances by Jeffrey Brian Adams as a U.S. Marine with more depth under his gruff military exterior than even he may realize and Caitlin Brooke as a San Francisco waitress/folk singer who is smarter, stronger and more compassionate than anyone the Marine has ever known (or probably ever will know).

Read More

Realistic portrait of the abstract artist in SF Playhouse’s Bauer

Mar 23

Realistic portrait of the abstract artist in SF Playhouse’s <i>Bauer</i>

A mysterious chapter in modern art history receives some theatrical exploration in the world premiere of Lauren Gunderson's Bauer at San Francisco Playhouse. If you've never heard of the abstract painter Rudolf Bauer, whom some considered a genius beyond contemporaries like Kandinsky and Klee, that may have something to do with the fact that the Guggenheim Museum in New York, which was built to display his work, kept them instead in the basement out of public view.

That's one of the issues addressed in Bauer, a three-person drama by Gunderson, San Francisco's most prolific and produced playwright.

Read More

Complex Jerusalem unfolds at SF Playhouse

Jan 26

Complex <i>Jerusalem</i> unfolds at SF Playhouse

San Francisco Playhouse deserves tremendous credit for tackling Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem, a multi-award-winning play in London and New York whose success hinged, in large part, on a central performance by Mark Rylance, one of our greatest working actors.

Minus Rylance's dazzle, the rambling, shambling play must stand on its own, and there's not much there there, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein.

Read More

Joseph’s Bengal Tiger prowls the SF Playhouse stage

Oct 06

Joseph’s <i>Bengal Tiger</i> prowls the SF Playhouse stage

The last time San Francisco Playhouse produced a play by Rajiv Joseph -- Animals Out of Paper in 2009 -- the young playwright was becoming one of the hottest writers in the country. TheatreWorks produced his The North Pool in 2011, just as his Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo was preparing to bow on Broadway in a starry production that featured Robin Williams as the titular caged beast.

Joseph, with his Tony Award and Pulitzer nominations, has fully emerged as an American playwright of note and his work is back at San Francisco Playhouse to launch a new season, the second in the stellar theater on Post Street.

In Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, Joseph has crafted a challenging war/ghost story that wrestles with the very notion of god (or, if you prefer, God).

Read More