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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I do? Crowded Fire finds fractured bliss in Late Wedding

Sep 23

I do? Crowded Fire finds fractured bliss in <i>Late Wedding</i>

San Francisco playwright Christopher Chen doesn't mind narrating his audience members' experience of his play while they're watching his play. That's part of the fun. It's also a tip of the fabulist's hat to Italian novelist Italo Calvino the inspiration for Chen's experiment with theatrical form and function in the world premiere of his The Late Wedding.

We've been here before, more or less. Chen is once again working with Crowded Fire Theater, the company behind his award-winning 2012 hit The Hundred Flowers Project (read my review here). Crowded Fire Artistic Director Marissa Wolf is at the helm of this intentionally bumpy ride...

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Shrew you, shutdown! The Taming gets it right

Oct 08

Shrew you, shutdown! <i>The Taming</i> gets it right

The word factions is uttered in a way that makes it sound like the filthiest word you can imagine. And, in these tense government shutdown days, it actually is. But when James Madison says the word, you feel it whistling through the centuries like an airborne bomb that keeps exploding every time political idiocy allows factions (it's such an easy word to say with loathing) to hijack democracy.

The world premiere of San Francisco playwright Lauren Gunderson's The Taming couldn't come at a more volatile time. Our government just happens to be in the middle of a crisis that was anticipated, according to Gunderson's play, by our founding fathers. The wise Mr. Madison did his best to avert the power of the special interests, but he compromised to keep our fledgling country steady and strong, at least to start.

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Crowded Fire’s Bereaved hawks drugs! nudity! absurdity!

Apr 09

Crowded Fire’s <i>Bereaved</i> hawks drugs! nudity! absurdity!

You know you've got your audience right where you want them when they're laughing at the rape fantasy being played out – rather graphically and violently – on stage. It's easy to imagine an audience sitting in wide-eyed horror as the scene, which also involves black face, goes to some surprising places.

But by this point in Thomas Bradshaw's The Bereaved, a Crowded Fire Theater production at the Thick House on Potrero Hill, we've come to expect the outrageous, the politically incorrect, the shocking.

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Crowded Fire delivers the goods with Good Goods

Jun 03

Crowded Fire delivers the goods with <i>Good Goods</i>

A little bit weird (in the most wonderful way) and a whole lot good, Christina Anderson's Good Goods is a captivating drama that becomes a highly satisfying love story – or love stories to be exact. Crowded Fire Theater is producing the West Coast premiere, with artistic director Marissa Wolf firmly at the helm.

What's so appealing about this two-act play is that it's old-fashioned and fresh at the same time, mysterious and yet straightforward enough to be almost instantly engaging. You get a sense of community and real human connection intermingled with the supernatural as in an August Wilson play and abundant romance, betrayal and pining, as in a Tennessee Williams play. But this is not to say that Anderson is being derivative.

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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.

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