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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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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TheatreFIRST gets tempest tossed in Bagyó

Oct 11

TheatreFIRST gets tempest tossed in <i>Bagyó</i>

When one of the Bay Area theater scenes most reliably inventive, resourceful and rewarding directors takes over a theater company and begins making changes, you pay attention. Jon Tracy is now at the helm of the Berkeley-based TheaterFIRST, a small but ambitious company that has had bumps and triumphs over the last 20 years while building a reputation as a haven for actors and playwrights to share voices from around the world.

The company's new season officially launched on Monday with the world premiere of San Francisco playwright Rob Dario's Bagyó.

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Heat, sizzle fire up SF Playhouse’s Seared

Oct 02

Heat, sizzle fire up SF Playhouse’s <i>Seared</i>

I'm going to spoil something right off the bat about Theresa Rebeck's fantastic new play Seared now receiving its world premiere from San Francisco Playhouse: there is no conventional romance. Just because the cast consists of one woman and three men does not mean there's going to be a burgeoning love story or a sordid triangle or break-ups or make-ups. No, the central love story comes out of a friendship and business partnership between a chef and a money guy who open a small restaurant in Brooklyn.

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Berkeley Rep’s warning: it can so happen here

Oct 01

Berkeley Rep’s warning: it can <i>so</i> happen here

Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s It Can’t Happen Here is a nightmare on so many levels, and that’s mostly a good thing in the world-premiere adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 novel.

This is the right story at the right time, and therein lies the dark heart of this nightmare.

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