Ham and jam and Camelot

Jul 25

Ham and jam and <i>Camelot</i>

I never loved Camelot, not ever once in silence. Not in the lusty month of May. Never. And I wanted to because how could you not love the work of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, the guys who created the masterwork known as My Fair Lady? I'm also genetically inclined emotionally hard wired to love anything involving Julie Andrews, who followed up her star-making turn as Eliza Doolittle by playing the placid Guenevere in Lerner and Loewe's adaptation of the King Arthur stories as told in T.H. White's The Once and Future King. But the fact is that the role of Guenevere, like the show in which she's stuck, is a big drag.

How exciting, then, to hear that San Francisco Playhouse was going to re-imagine Camelot as something darker and grittier.

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Enter Stage Left: SF theater history on film

Oct 03

Enter <i>Stage Left</i>: SF theater history on film

Docuemntary film director/producer Austin Forbord (below right) has created a fascinating documentary about the history of San Francisco theater from the post-World War II days up to the present. The movie has its premeire at the Mill Valley Film Festival this week and will likely see wider release soon after.

I interviewed Forbord for a story in the San Francisco Chronicle. You can read the story here.

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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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An elegant, inspiring Sunset at SF Playhouse

Oct 03

An  elegant, inspiring <i>Sunset</i> at SF Playhouse

Cormac McCarthy makes a pretty good argument for the ruin of mankind in The Sunset Limited, a 2006 "novel in dramatic form." But then again, McCarthy is his own best argument for mankind's salvation.

By taking two characters, Black and White (each named for his race), McCarthy goes for the tricky gray area in this 95-minute dialogue about the worthiness of the human race. It's a play defined by talk, not by action. The only real action of the play has taken place before the lights came up. Black, an ex-con murderer who is now an evangelical Christian, prevented White, a professor, from throwing himself in front of an oncoming subway train (aka The Sunset Limited, like the train that criss-crosses the Southern half of the U.S.).

The action of the play is about what doesn't happen.

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Fathers and sons: Aurora’s Awake and TheatreWorks’ Yellow

Aug 31

TOP: Ralph and Myron (l-r, Patrick Russell and Charles Dean) have a father-and-son talk as Moe (back, Rod Gnapp) listens in Aurora Theatre Company’s production of Awake and Sing! Photo by David AllenBOTTOM: Playwright D.H.H. (Pun Bandhu, left) takes a lesson on the American dream from his father, H.Y.H. (Francis Jue, right) in the Bay Area premiere of Yellow...

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Review: `The Best Man’

Sep 05

The cast of the Aurora Theatre Company’s The Best Man by Gore Vidal includes (from left) Tim Kniffen, Deb Fink, Charles Shaw Robinson, Michael Patrick Gaffney, and Michael Cassidy. Photos by David Allen   Vidal’s `Best Man’ wins at Aurora (three ½ stars) Just in case you haven’t already had it up to here with presidential politics, you...

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