Berkeley Rep’s White Snake: ‘sssssss wonderful

Nov 15

Berkeley Rep’s <i>White Snake</i>: ‘sssssss wonderful

Even ophidiophobe Indiana Jones would fall in love with the stunning serpents at the heart of Mary Zimmerman's The White Snake, a poignant, colorful tale from ancient China that arrives at Berkeley Repertory Theatre like a giant holiday gift just waiting to be savored by audiences.

This is Zimmerman's seventh show at Berkeley Rep, following in the wake of such stunners as Metamorphoses, The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci and, most recently, The Arabian Nights. Like these previous outings, The White Snake is theatrical storytelling at its very best, a fusion of stunning imagery, captivating music and, best of all, characters whose stories cut straight to the heart.

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Moscone, Taccone illuminate history in Ghost Light

Jan 12

Moscone, Taccone illuminate history in <i>Ghost Light</i>

Jonathan Moscone and Tony Taccone have found the courage to stay out of what they call "the suck drawer."

The phrase comes from Ghost Light, the play Moscone and Taccone conceived together and that Taccone wrote and Moscone directed and it has to do with the life of an artist – the life of anyone, really – and the effort to create work and, ultimately, a life that is true and uniquely individual.

I expected Ghost Light, a co-production of Berkeley Repertory Theatre (where Taccone is artistic director) and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where the play had the first leg of its world premiere last summer, to be about grief and the complicated relationship between fathers and sons. It is about those things. How could it not be, seeing as how it deals primarily with the effect of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone's assassination in 1978, when his son Jon was 14 years old.

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Marin’s Seagull: a Chekhovian reverie

Feb 02

Marin’s <i>Seagull</i>: a Chekhovian reverie

As long as we live in a world where celebrity and art continually clash, Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull will feel extraordinarily timely. And as long as people are restless, stingy and full of dreams, Chekhov will continue to offer extraordinary insight to his audiences.

It’s amazing that a flop play from 1896 has become such a resonant classic. From our perspective, Chekhov had the disadvantage of writing in Russian, which means his work has to be filtered through a translator/adaptor – and there have been some big names attached to that duty. Tennessee Williams did it with his “free adaptation” The Notebook of Trigorin. Playwrights Michael Frayn, Tom Stoppard and Christopher Hampton have all done it as well.

Now former Oregon Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Libby Appel (working from a literal translation by Allison Horsley) brings us her version (a commission of OSF) in a world-premiere production at Marin Theatre Company under the direction of Jasson Minadakis.

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Oregon Shakespeare Festival reviews (Part 2)

Jul 04

Mark Bedard is hilarious and charming as the title character in Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s new adaptation of Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters. Photo by Jenny Graham Two and a half weeks after running Part 1 of my Oregon Shakespeare Festival reviews, the San Francisco Chronicle finally published the second round, which includes thoughts of my...

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Oregon Shakespeare Festival reviews (pt. 1)

Jun 23

Vilma Silva and Armando Durán star in Octavio Solis’ adaptation of Don Quixote on the Elizabethan Stage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Photo by David Cooper. The first round of my reviews from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival — the three outdoor shows on the Elizabethan Stage — have arrived and were published in the San Francisco Chronicle....

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More Oregon Shakespeare Fest reviews

Jun 20

Vasantasenā (Miriam A. Laube) paints a portrait of her lover, Chārudatta (Cristofer Jean) in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival production of The Clay Cart. Photo by David Cooper. Here’s the link to the last batch of reviews I wrote of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Ore., for the the San Francisco Chronicle. Click here. And may I just say how...

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