ACT crowns a glorious King Charles III

Sep 22

ACT crowns a glorious <i>King Charles III</i>

What will happen when Queen Elizabeth, Great Britain's longest reigning queen, leaves the throne? In a hefty helping of royal speculation, playwright Mike Bartlett takes on that question, but does so by way of Shakespeare with a soupçon of Notting Hill.

The result is King Charles III a new history play that traffics in family drama, parliamentary procedure, the liberties of the fourth estate and everything we think we know about Charles, Camilla, William, Kate and Harry. There's sensation and substance, comedy and some genuine emotion mixed in with provocative observations on the relevance of the monarchy in the 21st century.

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Simple command: Catch Caught. Now.

Sep 15

Simple command: Catch <i>Caught</i>. Now.

Watching Christopher Chen's new play Caught in its sublime Shotgun Players production is, in a word, disorienting, and that's a good thing. Even clever folk who think they have it all figured out and are hip to what's going on in this mind-twisting play will experience something new here, and it may not be apparent until they leave the theater. Your trust in what is real, what is true (a major theme of the play), will likely have been somewhat shifted. The absurd things that happen to us on a regular basis and all the things we assume are true suddenly seem challenging and connected, as if we've stepped into a Chen play ourselves.

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Race, politics, compassion at odds in riveting Confederates

Jul 17

Race, politics, compassion at odds in riveting <i>Confederates</i>

A troubled presidential campaign provides the setting for Suzanne Bradbeer's Confederates, a thrilling world-premiere drama from TheatreWorks Silicon Valley now at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto. Developed, in part, at TheatreWorks' New Works Festival, this three-person one-act slices into the heart of modern politics and journalism. Bradbeer comes from a realistic perspective in terms of the degradation of modern journalism and the obfuscating chaos surrounding a presidential campaign, but she might rely on types – the noble young journalism, the crusty older journalist, the naive candidate's daughter – those types deepen into characters with depth, complication and easily relatable flaws, ambitions and conundrums.

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Grins, gams and gumshoes in SF Playhouse Angels

Jul 14

Grins, gams and gumshoes in SF Playhouse <i>Angels</i>

It's real vs. reel in the San Francisco Playhouse summer musical, City of Angels, a delightfully jazzy take on film noir, greed the constant battle between commerce and art.

This 1989 Broadway hit, with a dazzling score by the great Cy Coleman (music) and David Zippel (lyrics) and a genuinely funny book by Larry Gelbart is a real treat, and it's nice to see that SF Playhouse's musicals just get stronger and stronger.

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Campo goes seriously sci-fi with Hookers on Mars

Jul 02

Campo goes seriously sci-fi with <i>Hookers on Mars</i>

What's the last great work of dramatic science fiction you saw on a stage? Maybe you'll have to get back to me on that one. Sci-fi, while stellar (in every sense) in comics, games, books, big screens and small screens, has not generally been a successful theatrical genre. Shakespeare, Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams all neglected to set any of their dramas in space, which does seem a shame.

For whatever reason – maybe it's just too much a suspension of disbelief to be in the same roof with actors pretending to be in space, in the future, etc. without feeling a kitschy '70s flashback – sci-fi will likely remain successful outside the theater. But then again there's H.O.M.E. (Hookers on Mars Eventually), a world-premiere play by Star Finch now receiving its world premiere from Campo Santo.

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Natural beauty, talent and…disappointment at Transcendence

Jun 20

Natural beauty, talent and…disappointment at Transcendence

Heading back to Transcendence Theatre Company for opening weekend of the fifth season, much of what makes this such a special experience was in place. The amount of talent within the 25-member company is, as expected, at an astronomical level, but the opening show itself, dubbed This Magic Moment (running through July 3), is disappointing.

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