Breakfast of champions? Aurora chills with Mugabe

Nov 21

Breakfast of champions? Aurora chills with <i>Mugabe</i>

Dr. Peric (Dan Hiatt, center) looks to make an exit from his breakfast meeting with Robert Mugabe (L. Peter Callender, left) as presidential bodyguard Gabriel (Adrian Roberts) stands watch in Aurora Theatre Company’s Breakfast with Mugabe. Below: Hiatt’s Dr. Peric has a run in with Mrs. Mugabe (Leontyne Mbele-Mbong). Photos by David Allen I can’t...

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Here be dragons: Impact fires up fantastical drama

Nov 09

Here be dragons: Impact fires up fantastical drama

Impact Theatre's The Dragon Play breathes fire into what, at first glance, appears to be a fairly standard issue drama. Playwright Jenny Connell Davis blends the worlds of sci-fi/fantasy with Sam Shepard with surprising and wonderful results.

In only 80 minutes, director Tracy Ward creates two powerful worlds in which stories begin to bleed into one another. That's no mean feat in the cramped quarters of La Val's Subterranean, which offers set and lighting designers the ultimate challenge to turn a basement into a compelling performance space. Catalina Niño (sets) and Jax Steager rise to that challenge, even when the action spills off the stage and into the nether parts of the theater.

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Odds are in favor of SF Playhouse’s 77%

Nov 08

Odds are in favor of SF Playhouse’s <i>77%</i>

The title of Rinne Groff's new play 77% may seem cold and statistical, but it's actually wonderfully charming. You have to see the play to get it, but here's something to know: if you can achieve that percentage with a romantic partner of some kind, you're doing a really good job.

A play about marriage, among other things, 77% receives its world premiere as part of San Francisco Playhouse's Sandbox Series for new plays. It's a remarkable play, in part, because it seems so unremarkable.

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Speaking words of wisdom, Mother Mary testifies at ACT

Nov 06

Speaking words of wisdom, Mother Mary testifies at ACT

Has any mother ever inspired so much and such varied art?

Colm Tóibín's Testament, now at American Conservatory Theater, is another in a long line of interpretations of Mary, mother of Jesus. In is version, which started life as a Dublin play, then became a novel before being turned into a different play on Broadway last year, Toibin is interested in the humanity of Mary, a mother first and foremost, and a citizen caught up – rather unwillingly – in a dangerous rebellion.

Directed by ACT Artistic Director Carey Perloff and starring revered Canadian actor Seana McKenna ...

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Slow, thoughtful Silence at the Magic

Nov 05

Slow, thoughtful <i>Silence</i> at the Magic

In Naomi Wallace's And I and Silence now at the Magic Theatre we meet two interesting women, Dee and Jamie, who became friends while in prison. Both are in for nine-year stints, and as their bond intensifies, they begin to train one another for a life after prison – a life that will include the two of them together. As lovers? As friends? Not quite clear. But given that Jamie is black and Dee is white and their release will occur in the late '50s, there are all kinds of complications to contemplate.

Rather strangely, the flashback scenes to the prison feel...

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Party People at Berkeley Rep: Necessary

Oct 25

<i>Party People</i> at Berkeley Rep: Necessary

There are ovations and there are ovations. The opening of an envelope gets a standing ovation these days, so the stand and clap doesn't really mean much anymore. But at the opening night of UNIVERSES' Party People at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the audience was instantly on its collective feet at show's end, applauding thunderously, shouting and hooting. The appreciative cast bowed, expressed gratitude and exited the stage. The house lights came on, and still the clamor continued. A few audience members exited the theater, but mostly the noise grew in intensity until the surprised cast had to return to the stage and bow yet again.

It seemed a fittingly over-the-top reaction to an ambitious, over-the-top show that leaves you feeling moved by the wheels of history and the vagaries of the human heart.

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