Lots to unpack in Crowded Fire’s Shipment

Sep 27

Lots to unpack in Crowded Fire’s <i>Shipment</i>

While Secretary Clinton and The Orange Bloviator were duking it out at the first presidential debate and helping the populace decide the fate of this troubled nation, Crowded Fire Theater was painting its own portrait of America at the opening of Young Jean Lee's The Shipment at the Thick House.

It was an incendiary evening for several reasons, not the least of which was the actual heat wave baking San Francisco.

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Tense, riveting Brothers from Crowded Fire

Apr 14

Tense, riveting <i>Brothers</i> from Crowded Fire

Not much happens in Jonas Hassen Khemiri's I Call My Brothers, a Crowded Fire Theater production at Thick House. But then again, everything happens.

This is a mostly subterranean drama, which is to say, a little happens on the surface – a young man goes about his day running errands and interacting with friends and family – but a whole lot more is happening in his thoughts, his imagination, his paranoia.

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So much love in Crowded Fire’s Mechanics

Feb 23

So much love in Crowded Fire’s <i>Mechanics</i>

There's something so odd, so wonderfully odd about Dipika Guha's Mechanics of Love, a world-premiere comedy from Crowded Fire Theater. There's a decidedly offbeat rhythm to this delightful one-act, a sort of controlled silliness underscored by a decidedly serious exploration of just how the metaphorical gears of the heart do (or do not) turn into roaring engines when connected to the gears of another.

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Ramping up the teenage angst in Crowded Fire’s Truck Stop

Oct 06

Ramping up the teenage angst in Crowded Fire’s <i>Truck Stop</i>

The whole time I was watching Lachlan Philpott's Truck Stop, a Crowded Fire Theater production at Thick House, I was working myself into a state of anxiety imagining being the parent of a teenage girl. How do you fight the global objectification of women and instill a sense of self-worth that comes as much from intellectual, spiritual, emotional places and not just the physical and sexual, which it seems is all the world cares about if you're watching TV or movies, reading magazines or listening to music.

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Crowded Fire’s Edith hits the target

Mar 03

Crowded Fire’s <i>Edith</i> hits the target

Think of A. Rey Pamatmat's Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them as sort of a '90s "Peanuts" strip come to life. Sixteen-year-old Kenny is like Charlie Brown. Twelve-year-old Edith is Kenny's younger sister, so that makes her Sally (and so does her sass). And Kenny's classmate Benji is Linus (with a little Schroeder mixed in). There's even a giant stuffed frog named Fergie that could be considered Snoopy-esque. Only in this comic strip, Charlie and Sally Brown have essentially been abandoned by their parents to fend for themselves on a farm, and Charlie Brown and Linus are in love.

The "Peanuts" comparison is apt here if only to convey the tone of Edith, which has mature actors playing tweens and teens. There's a very grown-up feel to this tale, and that's partly because Kenny and Edith are being forced to grow up much faster than normal.

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I do? Crowded Fire finds fractured bliss in Late Wedding

Sep 23

I do? Crowded Fire finds fractured bliss in <i>Late Wedding</i>

San Francisco playwright Christopher Chen doesn't mind narrating his audience members' experience of his play while they're watching his play. That's part of the fun. It's also a tip of the fabulist's hat to Italian novelist Italo Calvino the inspiration for Chen's experiment with theatrical form and function in the world premiere of his The Late Wedding.

We've been here before, more or less. Chen is once again working with Crowded Fire Theater, the company behind his award-winning 2012 hit The Hundred Flowers Project (read my review here). Crowded Fire Artistic Director Marissa Wolf is at the helm of this intentionally bumpy ride...

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