Magic between a tricky spot and The Other Place

Sep 22

Magic between a tricky spot and <i>The Other Place</i>

There's a slippery quality to Sharr White's The Other Place, the drama opening the Magic Theatre season. The first half of this 80-minute one-act is especially slick as we try to gain our bearings, but White and director Loretta Greco keep tilting the playing field. Just when we think we know what's really going on in the story of a brilliant scientist's life, along comes new information or a trip to the past that reconfigures what we thought we knew.

Memory is a tricky, tricky thing. How accurate or trustworthy are our memories? That's a question that Juliana Smithton should be asking herself, but she's not, because she doesn't know anything's wrong.

Read More

Magic time, or what’s all the Bruja-ha?

Jun 20

Magic time, or what’s all the <i>Bruja</i>-ha?

Sometimes names are facts. Like now – there's magic at the Magic Theatre.

The play is Luis Alfaro's world-premiere Bruja, and it's extraordinarily powerful. Even better, it has one foot very firmly grounded in the real world, and the other somewhere else that's hard to describe, but rather than being some twinkly netherworld, this supernatural zone can be dangerous. And deadly.

Being an adaptation of Euripides' Medea, you know this experience wont' end happily. But what you might not know is that Alfaro, who scored at the Magic two years ago with his award-winning Oedipus el Rey, is going to make you care and he'll freak you out a little, maybe a lot.

Read More

The Magic’s Lily blooms!

Apr 19

The Magic’s <i>Lily</i> blooms!

There’s a lot of excitement burbling through the Bay Area theater community this spring. One of the reasons is the Magic Theatre’s The Lily’s Revenge, a ballsy five-hour play by Stockton native Taylor Mac.

With five acts performed in five different styles – musical theater, dance, puppets, Elizabethan-style drama – the show has a cast of nearly 40 (all local, by the way) musicians, actors, dancers, acrobats, drag queens, etc. There are actually six directors – one for each act plus one to direct the intermission events between each act. This is definitely the biggest, boldest theatrical event of the spring.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mac and Magic Theatre Artistic Director Loretta Greco for a feature in the San Francisco Chronicle. Read the feature here.

As usual, I couldn’t fit all the good stuff into the story. Here’s more with Taylor Mac.

Read More

Magic Up Against some funny creeps

Feb 11

Magic <i>Up Against</i> some funny creeps

Playwright Theresa Rebeck, a master of barbed contemporary dialogue, conducts an interesting experiment in the Magic Theatre’s world premiere of What We’re Up Against.

Her Petri dish is a big-city architectural firm – all glass and metal in Skip Mercier’s sleek, mostly black, white and gray set. Her chosen bacteria: the architects, all of whom turn out to be antiseptic assholes.

To stir the chemical reactions, Rebeck introduces elements commonly found in the workplace: power plays, raging sexism, vaulting ambition, moronic behavior and that ever-powerful agent, greed.

The architects at this particular firm are mostly isolated from the outside world. We hear about some client interaction, but the focus of their activity is internal. There’s not talk of spouses, significant others, children, parents, pets, groceries or dry cleaning. This nearly two-hour, two-act drama (with some hearty if stinging comedy) has a sharp focus and that is unpleasant behavior from unpleasant people.

Read More

It’s a farce Or, a hysterical – er – historical drama

Nov 11

It’s a farce <i>Or,</i> a hysterical – er – historical drama

With a wink and a nod to Shakespeare, playwright Liz Duffy Adams explains the title of her play Or, in a spiffily rhymed prologue. It's about love or lust. Danger or delight. Gay or straight. In other words, anything and everything is on the table for 90 minutes of theatrical enjoyment.

Adams, the linguistically inventive author of Dog Act, an award-winning hit for Shotgun Players in 2004, is once again indulging her love of language in Or, now having its West Coast premiere at the Magic Theatre directed by artistic director Loretta Greco. She dives into the wordplay of 17th-century England and splashes around happily.

Read More

Theater review: `Mauritius’

Jun 02

Extended through June 28 Zoë Winters (left) is Jackie, James Wagner (center) is Dennis and Warren David Keith is Philip in the Magic Theatre’s season-ending production of Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck. Photos by davidallenstudio.com Director Greco leaves dramatic stamp on sticky `Mauritius’««« Two little tiny pieces of paper cause a whole lot of...

Read More