ACT’s deep dive into Albee’s Seascape

Jan 31

ACT’s deep dive into Albee’s <i>Seascape</i>

As directing debuts go, Pam MacKinnon's for American Conservatory Theater is pretty auspicious. Her production of Seascape by Edward Albee is her first on the Geary Theater stage since taking over as artistic director last year. A Tony Award-winner (for Albee's 2012 revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) who has worked on other Bay Area stages (Berkeley Rep, Magic), MacKinnon seems to have landed quite comfortably in the world of institutional regional theater.

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Bouncy around here: Shotgun’s Virginia Woolf howls

Oct 21

Bouncy around here: Shotgun’s <i>Virginia Woolf</i> howls

Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is famous for being, among other things, a night in the life of a querulous quartet, a four-part marital slugfest, a boozy broadside in four parts. In other words, four actors fighting, lashing out, drinking and suffering. All of that is present and accounted for in director Mark Jackson's production concluding Shotgun Players' 25th anniversary season. But it feels like there's another character here.

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Life on the precipice: Remembering Edward Albee

Sep 17

Life on the precipice: Remembering Edward Albee

A towering giant has fallen. Edward Albee has died at 88.

A playwright who forged his own way and wielded his distinctive voice with lacerating skill, Albee helped define theater as we know and practice it today.

I sat down with Albee in 1997 when his Three Tall Women (one of three Albee plays to win the Pulitzer) was playing the Herbst Theatre. He was 69, and though he had a lot to say, he said it quietly, almost mumbling.

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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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Tiny but terrifying: Go ask Alice

Jun 08

Tiny but terrifying: Go ask <i>Alice</i>

The legend of Tiny Alice looms large. Edward Albee’s notorious 1964 follow-up to his monster Broadway smash Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf baffled critics and continued to cause kerfuffles for years to come (especially when William Ball, in the early days of American Conservatory Theater played fast and loose with the script).

This is not one of Albee’s frequently produced scripts, and after seeing Marin Theatre Company’s riveting production, it’s easy to see why. This play is a monster. It’s not like Albee hasn’t created monsters before (he loves to rile the beasts in many ways), but this one is especially weighty.

But this is a challenging play to say the least. Act 1 is familiar territory as Albee introduces his players, his zest for zingers and a juicy central mystery. In Act 2, the ground begins to wobble, and by Act 3, the ground has given way altogether. The monster, perhaps literally speaking, is loose.

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Theater review: `At Home at the Zoo’

Jun 11

Opened June 10, 2990 at American Conservatory Theater René Augesen is Ann and Anthony Fusco is Peter in the “Homelife” half of Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo, the final show of the American Conservatory Theater season. Photos by www.kevinberne.com Human beasts, growl, purr, bark in Albee’s revised `Home/Zoo’«««« (four stars...

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