Magic’s Five Minutes misses the mark

Apr 06

Magic’s <i>Five Minutes</i> misses the mark

I loved Linda McLean's Any Given Day so much that I proclaimed it my favorite show of 2012 (read my review here). And that makes it all the harder to convey just how much I disliked her world premiere Every Five Minutes at the Magic Theatre.

Read More

Ever the trouper, Liza still wows

Mar 31

Ever the trouper, Liza still wows

Showbiz legend Liza Minnelli, currently in the midst of a multi-city tour with her Simply Liza concert, pulled into Davies Symphony Hall last Friday for a 90-minute show that encompassed old favorites and some nice surprises.

Though the notes aren't all there and her physical condition seems to be posing her some challenges, Minnelli still knows how to work a room. And her fans are as adoring as ever. She performed much of the show from a director's chair at center stage, and watching her get into and out of the chair was a bit she milked as if it were a slapstick routine from her Arrested Development gig.

I reviewed the concert for the San Francisco Chronicle. Here's a sample...

Read More

Va-va-va Venus! ACT’s Fur flies

Mar 27

Va-va-va <i>Venus</i>! ACT’s <i>Fur</i> flies

Is it just me, or is it hot in this theater?

Live theater is not usually a hotbed of eroticism – so often attempts at sexiness inspire laughs more than they do accelerated heart rates – but the Bay Area of late has been home to some theatrical sexy time. First we got hot and heavy with polyamory in Carson Kreitzer's Lasso of Truth at Marin Theatre Company (read my review here), which featured Wonder Woman's creator happily submitting to the many strengths of his wife and his girlfriend (who also generated their own heat independent of the man).

And now we have David Ives' scintillating (for lots of reasons) Venus in Fur, in which dog collars, leather bustiers, thigh-high black leather boots and degradation play significant parts.

Read More

Fo-pas: Laughing (or not) through Accidental Death

Mar 13

Fo-pas: Laughing (or not) through <i>Accidental Death</i>

Maybe you have to be in the right mood for a satirically slapstick political farce. I can tell you I was definitely in no mood for satirically slapstick political farce – not that I knew that when I sat down to watch the Berkeley Repertory Theatre/Yale Repertory Theatre production of Accidental Death of an Anarchist by Dario Fo.

The last time director Christopher Bayes and his merry band of clowns came to Berkeley Rep – two years ago with Molière's A Doctor in Spite of Himself (read my review here), I was thoroughly delighted by the expertly calibrated zaniness. Now...

Read More

Bouncy Island breezes blow at TheatreWorks

Mar 12

Bouncy <i>Island</i> breezes blow at TheatreWorks

Last Saturday I reviewed the TheatreWorks production of Once on This Island, the charming musical fairy tale by the Ragtime/Rocky team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. My review ran in the San Francisco Chronicle, and you can read it here.

Director Robert Kelley's production captures much of the show's charm and energy, and the cast is delightful. But I've been thinking about...

Read More

Fifty shades of Wonder in Marin Theatre Co.’s Lasso

Feb 26

Fifty shades of Wonder in Marin Theatre Co.’s <i>Lasso</i>

You're bound to like Carson Kreitzer's Lasso of Truth if you like Wonder Woman...and a heaping helping of S&M on the side.

If you didn't know the two were related, first of all, think about it for a minute (the golden lasso, the bustier, the metal bracelets, etc.), and second of all, has Kreitzer got an origin story for you. Commissioned by Marin Theatre Company, the play is part of the National New Play Network, which means this is what they call a "rolling world premiere." The show begins in Mill Valley then heads to Atlanta and Kansas City.

So where did Wonder Woman come from (and we're not talking about Paradise Island, home of the Amazons)? For many of us, she sprung fully formed in the 1970s looking like Lynda Carter in a patriotic bathings suit and gold accessories. That famous TV show is actually a jumping-off point for Kreitzer's play.

Read More