Funny and chilling, it’s Humans’ nature

Jun 07

Funny and chilling, it’s <i>Humans’</i> nature

There's something so comforting and so terrifying about family. That dichotomy is captured perfectly in Stephen Karam's The Humans, the Tony Award-winning drama that is now touring the country. The superb production is at the Orpheum Theatre as part of the SHN season.

It's a rare enough occurrence these days for a play to go on tour, but to have one this entertaining and unsettling is even more reason for celebration (side note: there are almost four times as many producers listed as actors). Karam's play does something extraordinary by trying to be ultra-ordinary.

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Parks finds poetry, drama in epic Father

May 02

Parks finds poetry, drama in epic <i>Father</i>

There's some epic myth-making happening on the stage of American Conservatory Theater's Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3). Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks – one of those great American playwrights whose mere name should always inspire you to check out her work – nods in the direction of other great epics, most notably The Odyssey, but also, as she has said, The Oresteia and The Mahabharata as she tells the story of a slave who reluctantly follows his master into the Civil War.

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Vietgone at ACT

Mar 12

<i>Vietgone</i> at ACT

Bold, irreverent, and laugh-out-loud funny, Qui Nguyen's Vietgone, at American Conservatory Theater's Strand Theater, can also be frustratingly scattershot and amateurish.

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Complex, human look at gun violence in Berkeley Rep Hours

Mar 02

Complex, human look at gun violence in Berkeley Rep <i>Hours</i>

Julia Cho is exactly the kind of playwright I crave. She's thoughtful, adventurous and fanciful in a way that relates directly to reality (she's not a fantasist – her flights mean something in the day to day). She cares about people and their messes, both internal and external. Her Aubergine at Berkeley Repertory Theatre was a revelation (read my review here) and has become one of my favorite plays in recent memory. Her play Office Hour, now at Berkeley Rep's Peet's Theatre, is a thorny piece of work.

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Shavian wit still dwells in Aurora’s Houses

Feb 04

Shavian wit still dwells in Aurora’s <i>Houses</i>

George Bernard Shaw's Widowers' Houses last played Berkeley's Aurora Theatre Company more than 20 years ago, and though the theater company has come up on the world (bigger, spiffier theater), the satirical world of Shaw's play still reflects badly on our own lack of evolution where greed, poverty and decency are concerned.

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Riveting drama in Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew

Feb 01

Riveting drama in Morisseau’s <i>Skeleton Crew</i>

What an incredible talent to balance the dark weight of tragedy and the electrifying light of hope. That's what playwright Dominique Morisseau does in Skeleton Crew, a powerful play now at Marin Theatre Company (in a co-production with TheatreWorks Silicon Valley).

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