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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Crowded Fire saddles up comic Horses

Mar 25

Crowded Fire saddles up comic <i>Horses</i>

There's something very sly at work in She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange, the world-premiere from Amelia Roper with Crowded Fire Theater at the Thick House. From looking at the vivid, sharply designed set by Maya Linke, with its paper sculpture trees and angled artificial grass, it's clear this is not going to be just any walk in the park.

But that's exactly how the play starts: a Sunday in a suburban Connecticut park...

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2013: The year’s best Bay Area theater

Dec 23

2013: The year’s best Bay Area theater

If you’re looking for the year’s best, you can shorten your search by heading directly to Word for Word, that ever-amazing group that turns short works of fiction into some of the most captivating theater we see around here. This year, we were graced with two outstanding Word for Word productions. You Know When the Men Are Gone – Word for...

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Shrew you, shutdown! The Taming gets it right

Oct 08

Shrew you, shutdown! <i>The Taming</i> gets it right

The word factions is uttered in a way that makes it sound like the filthiest word you can imagine. And, in these tense government shutdown days, it actually is. But when James Madison says the word, you feel it whistling through the centuries like an airborne bomb that keeps exploding every time political idiocy allows factions (it's such an easy word to say with loathing) to hijack democracy.

The world premiere of San Francisco playwright Lauren Gunderson's The Taming couldn't come at a more volatile time. Our government just happens to be in the middle of a crisis that was anticipated, according to Gunderson's play, by our founding fathers. The wise Mr. Madison did his best to avert the power of the special interests, but he compromised to keep our fledgling country steady and strong, at least to start.

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