Crowded Fire tells a futuristic Tale of Autumn

Sep 19

Crowded Fire tells a futuristic <i>Tale of Autumn</i>

Who are the good guys/bad guys? What truth lies behind smokescreens and lies? And when good guys resort to bad behavior, doesn't that make them bad guys, thus leaving no good guys and obscured truth?

San Francisco playwright Christoper Chen's world-premiere A Tale of Autumn, a commission from Crowded Fire Theater, is all about good gone bad and bad gone worse. Imagine Google, Oprah and the U.S. Government wrestling with notions of altruism and greed and you get some idea of what Chen is up to here.

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Love among the stars in TheatreWorks’ Constellations

Aug 27

Love among the stars in TheatreWorks’ <i>Constellations</i>

British playwright Nick Payne isn't interested in changing minds or even changing the world in Constellations. He settles for nothing less than changing the universe – over and over again. Imagine if Einstein and Hawking had decided to write a love story – you might get something resembling this fascinating play.

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Joy, power of stories in Cal Shakes black odyssey

Aug 13

Joy, power of stories in Cal Shakes <i>black odyssey</i>

Just when it seems the news can't get any worse, it gets worse. This weekend in Virginia we saw some of the worst of humanity, with terror, death, hatred and ignorance all on full display. At such times, it can be hard not to give in to that helpless, hopeless feeling of things ever getting better, of our species ever giving over to our better natures rather than constantly reveling our worst.

Then there's art. In a quirk of timing for which I will be forever grateful, California Shakespeare Theater opened a new production Saturday night at the Bruns Amphitheater amid the full chilly summer glory of the Orinda Hills. It wasn't just any production, but one so suited to our troubled times that it seems we should find some way to broadcast it nationally over and over.

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Shotgun’s curious Watson: more than elementary

Aug 11

Shotgun’s curious <i>Watson</i>: more than elementary

Except for the flying cars, we are pretty much living The Jetsons, and we take it in stride. Playwright Madeleine George attempts to knock some wonder – and perspective – into us in her play The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence, now at Berkeley's Ashby Stage in Shotgun Players production. George tackles one of the key issues of our time – how, with all this instant and constant digital connection, can we still be so isolated – but does so in a clever way.

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Comedy and more fill Great Moment at Z Below

Aug 06

Comedy and more fill <i>Great Moment</i> at Z Below

There are so many great moments in The Making of a Great Moment, the new play from the scintillating San Francisco playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, that it's hard to decide if the best ones are from the comic side or the more dramatic one. Certainly Nachtrieb, one of the sharpest, funniest playwrights working in this or any city, knows his way around a great line, and Great Moment, a Z Space production at Z Below, packs its 90 minutes with memorable lines and some big laughs.

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Cal Shakes musters a forceful Glass Menagerie

Jul 09

Cal Shakes musters a forceful <i>Glass Menagerie</i>

Except for large proscenium frame, the stage of California Shakespeare Theater's Bruns Amphitheater is mostly bare. There's no back wall to the stage, so the light from the setting sun on the Orinda hills is spectacular. It will be dark soon – in more ways than one.

On a gorgeous Saturday night, complete with a warm breeze and, eventually, a full moon, Cal Shakes opened The Glass Menagerie, marking the Bruns debut of Tennessee Williams.

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