Ideation redux: still smart, thrilling, funny

Sep 28

<i>Ideation</i> redux: still smart, thrilling, funny

Bay Area playwright Aaron Loeb's award-winning play Ideation returns to San Francisco Playhouse, this time on the main stage. The play features the cast and director from its SF Playhouse Sandbox premiere last year, and some changes have been made to the play, but the results are as they should be. Ideation is the must-see play of the fall.

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Magic’s Five Minutes misses the mark

Apr 06

Magic’s <i>Five Minutes</i> misses the mark

I loved Linda McLean's Any Given Day so much that I proclaimed it my favorite show of 2012 (read my review here). And that makes it all the harder to convey just how much I disliked her world premiere Every Five Minutes at the Magic Theatre.

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Here’s an idea: go see SF Playhouse’s Ideation. Now.

Nov 22

Here’s an idea: go see SF Playhouse’s <i>Ideation</i>. Now.

Don't you love it when a new play starts out and you really like it, then it turns into something else and you like it even more? That's what happens with Ideation, a world-premiere play by local scribe Aaron Loeb that is part of San Francisco Playhouse's Sandbox Series, an incubator for new plays.

As new plays, Ideation is in remarkably good shape primarily because Loeb's writing is so smart, sharp and full of grounding humor. It also helps that director Josh Costello has ...

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Holy Zuzu’s petals! Get into the spirit with Wonderful Life

Dec 06

Holy Zuzu’s petals! Get into the spirit with <i>Wonderful Life</i>

At a certain point, no matter how much you love Dickens or get your heart cockles warmed by Scrooge and Tiny Tim, you've had it. Enough already with A Christmas Carol. Some years you just need to take a Carol break and find a little holiday spark elsewhere.

This year, if you're searching for an alternative to Ebenezer and his ghosts, I recommend you head to Marin Theatre Company and spend some time with George Bailey and Clarence, his Angel Second Class. It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play takes Frank Capra's much loved 1946 film and turns it into a stage experience by transforming it into a radio play. As re-conceived by Joe Landry, we're in a Manhattan radio station on a snowy Christmas Eve as five actors play all the roles and create all the sound effects for a streamlined version of Capra's story.

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Magic between a tricky spot and The Other Place

Sep 22

Magic between a tricky spot and <i>The Other Place</i>

There's a slippery quality to Sharr White's The Other Place, the drama opening the Magic Theatre season. The first half of this 80-minute one-act is especially slick as we try to gain our bearings, but White and director Loretta Greco keep tilting the playing field. Just when we think we know what's really going on in the story of a brilliant scientist's life, along comes new information or a trip to the past that reconfigures what we thought we knew.

Memory is a tricky, tricky thing. How accurate or trustworthy are our memories? That's a question that Juliana Smithton should be asking herself, but she's not, because she doesn't know anything's wrong.

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Aurora tips Albee’s Balance delicately

Sep 09

Aurora tips Albee’s <i>Balance</i> delicately

Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance only looks like a suburban comedy. It's really an existential nightmare slightly more gussied up than your average slasher movie. Oh, blood flows in this eviscerating drama, but it's of a more metaphorical variety than you'll find in the Saw franchise. Between the ravages of time and the mighty pen of Albee, the family on stage has absolutely no chance at all.

And their demise is so very delicious. (Also delicious: Albee himself was in the audience for Thursday's opening-night performance.)

A Delicate Balance opens Aurora's 20th season, and as directed by Artistic Director Tom Ross, it's a perfect example of why the Aurora is such a glorious part of the Bay Area theater scene. An intimate theater and a thrust stage so deep it's practically in the round make the Aurora a crucible in which outstanding writing and superb performances combine and, with luck and a good director, ignite. To watch an actor lose herself or himself in an exquisitely crafted part is one of the greatest pleasures in the theater, and there's no better vantage point for this than the Aurora.

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