Shotgun’s Black Rider dances with the devil

Nov 26

Shotgun’s <i>Black Rider</i> dances with the devil

Thirteen years ago – such an appropriate number of years – American Conservatory Theater made some sort of deal with the devil to get The Black Rider onto the stage of the Geary Theater. Now Berkeley's Shotgun Players revive this decidedly adult fairy tale under the guidance of director Mark Jackson, and the results are heartily satisfying.

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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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Uneasy comedy, drama (+Rat Wife!) in Aurora’s Erik

Feb 05

Uneasy comedy, drama (+Rat Wife!) in Aurora’s <i>Erik</i>

There's a profoundly creepy core to Little Erik the new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's 1894 Little Eyolf by Mark Jackson, one of the Bay Area's foremost theater artists. That creepiness is the best thing about the 80-minute one-act now at the Aurora Theatre Company. Though even in its brevity, the play can't quite command its shifting tones.

Ibsen's Eyolf probably won't be found on any of his best-of compilations, but Jackson...

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Trickle down theory: parallel lives in Now for Now

Jul 20

Trickle down theory: parallel lives in <i>Now for Now</i>

I've never seen anything quite like Now for Now, the new theatrical work devised and performed by Mark Jackson and Megan Trout now at Z Below through July 26 (time is short – go see it). As two dynamic and acutely interesting theater people, Mark Jackson and Megan Trout make for an intriguing combination on paper and, happily, that intrigue (and a whole lot more) extends to the work they have created.

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Sharp edges in Shotgun’s dance-theater Antigonick

Mar 27

Sharp edges in Shotgun’s dance-theater <i>Antigonick</i>

It's a museum piece come to life, a poem that dances, a classic that feels ultra-modern. Shotgun Players' Antigonick is all that and more, including somewhat baffling and exhausting.

You don't go into a Mark Jackson show expecting theatrical pablum. Jackson has long been one of the Bay Area's most interesting theater makers – intelligent, audacious, boundary pushing and always, always interesting. He tends to merge varying styles of theater, often very physical, but always in service of storytelling and emotion.

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Dear Comrade: No love posted in Aurora’s tense Letters

Apr 25

Dear Comrade: No love posted in Aurora’s tense <i>Letters</i>

After hosting three cabaret performances, the Aurora Theatre Company's rehearsal/black box/office space (the Dashow Wing, to be specific) known as Harry's UpStage at last beings life as a playhouse. The first play in the space, John W. Lowell's The Letters, a tense, 75-minute two-hander about abuse of power and the triumph of smart people.

Director Mark Jackson is known for his kinetic, dynamic productions, but this time out he's confined to one small office...

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