2017 theater in review: Reflections on a powerful year

Dec 28

2017 theater in review: Reflections on a powerful year

If you're a theater fan, 2017 was a very good year. If you're an American, depending on your point of view, 2017 was a terrifying year. Quite often, it seemed, the theatrical stage and the national stage were in direct conversation.

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Delight and loss dance through Magic’s Waltz revival

Mar 30

Delight and loss dance through Magic’s <i>Waltz</i> revival

Any of us would be lucky – beyond lucky – to be as loved as Paula Vogel's brother Carl. The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (who, after nearly 50 years as one of the country's preeminent playwrights, will see her first Broadway opening next month with Indecent) wrote The Baltimore Waltz a year after Carl died of complications from AIDS. This is her tribute to him, a love letter from sister to brother, but she accomplishes this with such offbeat originality, whimsy and heart that there's no room for sentimentality or feeble clichés about love and loss.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Magic Theatre has revived The Baltimore Waltz 25 years after hosting its West Coast premiere.

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A hitch in the getalong: Looking back at 2014′s best

Dec 22

A hitch in the getalong: Looking back at 2014′s best

Reviewing the shows I reviewed this year, I was struck by two things: first, and as usual, there’s an abundance of talented people doing great work at all levels of Bay Area theater; second, this was a lesser year in Bay Area theater. Perhaps the reason for the later has to do with the changes in the Bay Area itself – artists are fleeing outrageous rents,...

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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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Magic’s Five Minutes misses the mark

Apr 06

Magic’s <i>Five Minutes</i> misses the mark

I loved Linda McLean's Any Given Day so much that I proclaimed it my favorite show of 2012 (read my review here). And that makes it all the harder to convey just how much I disliked her world premiere Every Five Minutes at the Magic Theatre.

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Turning on a paradigm in Magic’s HIR

Feb 05

Turning on a paradigm in Magic’s <i>HIR</i>

The last time Taylor Mac was in town, he gave us the five-hour Lily's Revenge with glitter, drag queens, a cast of 40 and so much dazzling theatricality that we were able to withstand his absence in the following three years (read my Lily's Revenge review here)

Mac has continued to wow audiences in shows like his two-man outing with Mandy Patinkin or La Ma Ma's acclaimed The Good Person of Szechwan, but the Magic Theatre was able to lure him back to present the world premiere of something entirely different than Lily's Revenge. This time out, Mac is the playwright of HIR (pronounced like "here"), a fairly traditional two-act, two-plus-hour play that seems like a sitcom filtered through Mac's gender-fluid, ragingly intelligent, funny and passionate artistry.

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