Tickety boo! Kneehigh, Berkeley Rep jazz up history in Adolphus Tips

Dec 08

Tickety boo! Kneehigh, Berkeley Rep jazz up history in <i>Adolphus Tips</i>

Spirits are high at Berkeley Repertory Theatre this holiday season. What's interesting is that the merry-making on stage in 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips – the singing, dancing and general revelry – is all in service to a story about war and a little-known and avoidable tragedy that cost nearly 1,000 during World War II. So it's happy about sad, which makes sense given the theater company at work here is Kneehigh, the Cornwall-based troupe that has made various Bay Area splashes.

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Passion, ache and lots of great music in splendid Tristan

Nov 27

Passion, ache and lots of great music in splendid <i>Tristan</i>

The thing about a love story is this: you want to feel it. You need to feel it. When Juliet wakes just after Romeo bites it, if you’re not feeling that dagger in your own chest, what’s the point?

There are only so many love stories – love gained, love lost, love unrequited – and so many variations. How, then, do you make the story fresh? How do you reignite the passions and make your audience feel it all anew?

The shortest answer to that query is: let Kneehigh tell the story.

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2011 in the rearview mirror: the best of Bay Area stages

Dec 29

2011 in the rearview mirror: the best of Bay Area stages

Let's just get right to it. 2011 was another year full of fantastic local theater (and some nice imports). Somehow, most of our theater companies has managed thus far to weather the bruising economy. May the new year find audiences clamoring for more great theater.

1. How to Write a New Book for the Bible by Bill Cain
Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Directed by Kent Nicholson

Only a few days ago I was telling someone about this play – my favorite new play of 2011 and the most moving theatrical experience I've had in a long time – and it happened again. I got choked up. That happens every time I try to describe Cain's deeply beautiful ode to his family and to the spirituality that family creates (or maybe that's vice-versa). Nicholson's production, from the excellent actors to the simple, elegant design, let the play emerge in all its glory.

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Berkeley Rep’s wildly wonderful Bride

Dec 08

Berkeley Rep’s wildly wonderful <i>Bride</i>

Such joy. Such wicked, delicious, heart-pounding joy.

That's what it feels like at the end of The Wild Bride, the dark fairy tale come to life on Berkeley Repertory Theatre's Roda stage. This is, without question, the great treat of the holiday theater season (though it's not really for kids younger than about 13, what with the mutilations, the sex and the devilish nature of the show).

Here comes the Bride indeed – in the most unexpectedly charming and poignant fashion you can imagine. Director/adaptor Emma Rice and Kneehigh, the quirky troupe from Cornwall, England, are blessedly back in the Bay Area, where they previously triumphed with their dynamic adaptation of Noel Coward's Brief Encounter at American Conservatory Theater a couple seasons back. May they keep coming back. And back.

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