Lost in Austen with Marin’s Christmas at Pemberly

Nov 30

Lost in Austen with Marin’s <i>Christmas at Pemberly</i>

We're all in need of some genuine Christmas cheer this year, and that's exactly what Marin Theatre Company's Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley provides. It's sweet without being sappy. It's sharp, clever and funny with a warm undercurrent of genuine emotion. What more could you want from a holiday show (except maybe passed eggnog and a round of carols)?

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Wonderful women in Word for Word’s Aunt Hagar

Nov 20

Wonderful women in Word for Word’s <i>Aunt Hagar</i>

What you remember from Word for Word's production of All Aunt Hagar's Children, a full theatrical adaptation of the short story by Edward P. Jones, are the women. Such women. They make an impression on the audience the way they make an impression the story's narrator, a nameless young man who returned to his native Washington, D.C., nine months ago after serving in the Korean War.

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Freedom, dreams clash in Aurora’s Safe House

Nov 12

Freedom, dreams clash in Aurora’s <i>Safe House</i>

There are several ways to interpret the title of Keith Josef Adkins' Safe House now at Berkeley's Aurora Theatre Company. One way sees cobbler Addison Pedigrew, a free man of color in Kentucky, aiming for his version of the American dream: a thriving shoe making/repairing business run out of his home to support his Aunt Dorcas and his brother, Frank, so that they can be truly free to thrive and expand their families. The other way, according to Frank and Dorcas, is to provide shelter and assistance to fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad. Both co-exist, but not easily in this 2014 drama, which takes much of its first act to really get going.

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Making friends with Golden Thread’s Enemies

Nov 07

Making friends with Golden Thread’s <i>Enemies</i>

When you go to a show from a specialized company like Golden Thread Productions, which focuses on plays from and about the Middle East, you expect your perspective to be expanded, to have your assumptions challenged and to encounter voices you may not hear enough. In its 20 years, Golden Thread has earned a strong reputation for accomplishing all of the above and more...

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ACT attempts to solve Stoppard’s Hard Problem

Oct 27

ACT attempts to solve Stoppard’s <i>Hard Problem</i>

All through American Conservatory Theater's production of The Hard Problem you can feel playwright Tom Stoppard making an effort to be accessible. With a play about the very nature of consciousness – the "hard problem" about not just the knowing about what's at our human core but the knowing about the knowing – there's a danger of a) boring a lay audience with intricate lectures on neuroscience or b) becoming so involved in the intellectual pursuits of the play that actual drama. Stoppard slips a little into both camps during his play's one hour and 40 minutes, but it's hard to fault a playwright for being too smart or too passionate about the subject he's exploring.

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Tech & show tunes! SOMA musical skewers Silicon Valley

Oct 23

Tech & show tunes! <i>SOMA</i> musical skewers Silicon Valley

Having lived in San Francisco for 26 years now, it's' sad to say that everything I know about Silicon Valley comes not from firsthand experience of the world outside my doorstep but from the HBO show "Silicon Valley." Based on that show and on the genial South of Market: The Musical, I would venture to say that the best way to deal with that world is through a satirical lens. My impression is that Silicon Valley life/work is so wacky and self-involved it's basically satire that writes itself.

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