Haunting Ghost Sonata kicks off Strindberg cycle

Oct 21

Haunting <i>Ghost Sonata</i> kicks off Strindberg cycle

Watching August Strindberg's The Ghost Sonata at Cutting Ball Theater, it becomes clear that without Strindberg, we probably would not have the wonderfully weird worlds of Samuel Beckett or Harold Pinter or Edward Albee or, in the film world, David Lynch or Spike Jonze. Strindberg, though famous for the naturalism of his Miss Julie, pushed into expressionism later in his career and helped redefine modern theater.

During this, the 100th anniversary year of Strindberg's death, Cutting Ball has launched an ambitious celebration of one of Sweden's greatest pre-Abba exports. The Strindberg Cycle collects all five of the chamber plays Strindberg wrote in 1907 that were performed in The Intimate Theater, which had about 150 seats, not unlike the EXIT on Taylor, where Cutting Ball is in residence. This cycle marks the first time all five of these plays have been performed together in an any language.

Read More

Into the void with Will Eno; we do not move

Mar 18

Into the void with Will Eno; we do not move

Will Eno builds some extraordinary bridges – between absurdist theater of the 1950s and now, between laughs that actually tickle and reality that is actually harsh, between ironic dismissal and deep, deep feeling.

I would happily lose myself in Eno's world for days if possible – his combination of humor, desolation and intelligence come together in ways that make me incredibly happy. And incredibly sad. Thank whatever powers that be in the universe that Will Eno is writing for the theater and that he's seemingly unaffected by anything remotely hipster or sappy or commercial.

Cutting Ball Theatre produced Eno's Thom Pain (based on nothing) in 2009 to great acclaim. Happily, the Cutting Ball-Eno collaboration continues. Three theater-related one-acts are now running at the EXIT on Taylor, and they're every bit as engaging, hilarious and tinged with genius as Thom Pain.

Lady Grey (in ever lower light) contains two monologues and one multi-character play. They all confront the notion of theater as a "recreational" means to emotion, a gingerly step (as a group) into the maw of the abyss known as reality. We're all alone, yet we're all in it together.

Read More

Cutting Ball revives a Bone to gnaw on

Jan 21

Cutting Ball revives a <i>Bone</i> to gnaw on

In the summer of 2008, Cutting Ball Theater threw audiences an incredible Bone. The play, part of the evening known as Avant GardARAMA!, was Eugenie Chan’s Bone to Pick, a one-act that re-imagined the myth of Ariadne, a princess of Crete and a key player in the whole Theseus/Minotaur tussle.

Chan’s play fascinated because it took a dusty old myth and gave it a compelling spin. Ariadne, known as Ria here, is haggard waitress at the end of the world. She was left on the island of Naxos by her new groom (Theseus, here called Theo) at the moment of her greatest happiness. She had just helped her new husband slay the Minotaur (actually her half-brother), and they were heading off to a glorious future together.

But for whatever reason, Theo dumped her. And here it is 3,000-some years later, and she’s a waitress in what’s left of a diner near the end of time. In her craziness/loneliness, she cycles through her life and takes a journey – possibly real, possibly imagined – into a meat locker that leads to a labyrinth of sorts filled with memory and emotion.

Oh, and meat.

Read More

Final analysis: Cutting Ball’s Tempest is a head-shrinker

Nov 15

Final analysis: Cutting Ball’s <i>Tempest</i> is a head-shrinker

High-concept Shakespeare gives me a rash. I should modify that. Most of the time, when directors impose some great new twist, time period, setting, the result merely obscures rather than heightens the play itself.

That said, my favorite Merry Wives of Windsor of all time was the Royal Shakespeare Company’s version, which was set in an “I Love Lucy”-like 1950s. The laughs were so big the actors had to hold and hold and hold. I was sure they had tinkered with the script, but when I ran to my Riverside Shakespeare after, it was all word for word. If a director’s concept pulls you deeper into Shakespeare’s world, I’m all for it.

When I heard that director Rob Melrose, one of the brilliant minds behind Cutting Ball Theater was turning The Tempest into a three-person chamber piece set in a psychiatrist’s office at the bottom of a swimming pool, I was hesitant but intrigued.

Read More

Theater review: `Krapp’s Last Tape’

Jun 05

Paul Gerrior is Krapp, a 69-year-old writer spending his birthday with the spirits of his younger selves via an old reel-to-reel tape recorder in Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, a Cutting Ball Theater production at the EXIT on Taylor. Photos by Margaret Whitaker Get a load of `Krapp,’ another sad Beckett clown«««« Exactly 40 years ago,...

Read More

Cutting Ball announces 10th anniversary season

Jun 02

Husband-and-wife team Rob Melorse and Paige Rogers are the creative force behind San Francisco’s The Cutting Ball Theater. The company is heading into its 10th anniversary season. Photo courtesy Marin Independent Journal One of the Bay Area’s most committed alternative theater companies, The Cutting Ball Theater has anounced its 10th Anniversary season....

Read More