Impact’s Comedy ponders: What’s up, Doc?

Feb 21

Impact’s <i>Comedy</i> ponders: What’s up, Doc?

Impact Theatre has been known for its Shakespeare reboots, sometimes fierce, sometimes wholly inspired, always intelligent and interesting. Now in its valedictory lap before going on hiatus, Impact has two shows left, including the just-opened Comedy of Errors at LaVal's Subterranean.

It's another Shakespearean reinvention by Impact Artistic Director Melissa Hillman, and it is sublime.

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Wrestling affections in Impact’s As You Like It

Mar 03

Wrestling affections in Impact’s <i>As You Like It</i>

p>Shakespeare didn't drop any F-bombs in his comedy As You Like It, but that doesn't stop Impact Theatre. There are lots of non-Shakespeare asides in this highly edited, streamlined version from director Melissa Hillman, but purists shouldn't despair. Such contemporary additions are usually thrown in during scene transitions or to punctuate a joke that has already landed. And they're a hell of a lot of fun, as is the entire 2 1/2- hour show.

Hillman and Impact often draw from the Shakespeare well, but rather serving the plays up straight, they're turned into potent cocktails, with some darker and bloodier than others. With As You Like It, Hillman and her game cast are reveling in relationships. Some of the more Shakespearean touches in the show – like the characters of Jaques the grump and Touchstone the clown don't fare as well because they're too much on the periphery and don't fit in to the gender-bending love stories jumping through hoops in the center ring.

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Let’s give Impact’s Titus a big, bloody hand

Mar 04

Let’s give Impact’s <i>Titus</i> a big, bloody hand

Anna Ishida has a scream to remember – the kind of scream that startles your unborn children. She could supplant Jamie Lee Curtis as the Queen of Scream, but until then, she's wreaking bloody havoc in Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, this season's revitalized Shakespeare project at Berkeley's Impact Theatre.

Artistic Director Melissa Hillman is particularly adept at trimming a Shakespeare play to its most vital parts and shooting it through with a kind of energy that tends to surprise anyone who has forgotten that, in the right hands, Shakespeare can be lean and mean.

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Enter Stage Left: SF theater history on film

Oct 03

Enter <i>Stage Left</i>: SF theater history on film

Docuemntary film director/producer Austin Forbord (below right) has created a fascinating documentary about the history of San Francisco theater from the post-World War II days up to the present. The movie has its premeire at the Mill Valley Film Festival this week and will likely see wider release soon after.

I interviewed Forbord for a story in the San Francisco Chronicle. You can read the story here.

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Gamers roll good theater in Dice and Men

Aug 29

Gamers roll good theater in <i>Dice and Men</i>

Nerd-on-nerd love is something to behold.

It's sweet, it's smart, it's funny – at least it is in Cameron McNary's sharply etched play Of Dice and Men, receiving its Bay Area premiere courtesy of Berkeley's Impact Theatre. McNary boldly goes where no dramatist has gone before him (at least none I've ever seen). He takes his audiences into the world of Dungeons and Dragons, the role-playing game involving elves, fairies, wizards and the like – exactly the kind of game that gets kids beaten up in high school.

One of the wonderful things about McNary's play is that you don't have to know anything about D&D to enjoy it.

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Review: `Ching Chong Chinaman’

Sep 06

The cast of Lauren Yee’s Ching Chong Chinaman at Impact Theatre includes (from left) Dennis Yen, Arthur Keng, Sung Min Park, Cindy Im and Lisa Kang. Photos by Cheshire Isaacs Impact gets irreverent with Yee’s `Ching Chong’ (three stars) NOTE: Dates added to the run: Monday, Oct. 6 and Wednesday, Oct. 8. The Monday show will be a cast & crew...

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