Sad, hopeful elegy in Shotgun’s brownsville song

Jun 23

Sad, hopeful elegy in Shotgun’s <i>brownsville song</i>

Playwright Kimber Lee's brownsville song (b-side for tray) offers a poignant reminder that our grim news feeds are built of lives, not just of victims and perpetrators and garbage politicians but also of the lives connected to those lives and the ripples that overlap with ripples that overlap with ripples.

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Theater Dogs’ Best of 2016

Dec 28

Theater Dogs’ Best of 2016

The theater event that shook my year and reverberated through it constantly didn't happen on Bay Area stage. Like so many others, I was blown away by Hamilton on Broadway in May and then on repeat and shuffle with the original cast album (and, later in the year, the Hamilton Mix Tape) ever since. Shifting focus back home, theater in the San Francisco Bay Area continues to be a marvel, which is really something given the hostile economic environment arts groups are facing around here.

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Bouncy around here: Shotgun’s Virginia Woolf howls

Oct 21

Bouncy around here: Shotgun’s <i>Virginia Woolf</i> howls

Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is famous for being, among other things, a night in the life of a querulous quartet, a four-part marital slugfest, a boozy broadside in four parts. In other words, four actors fighting, lashing out, drinking and suffering. All of that is present and accounted for in director Mark Jackson's production concluding Shotgun Players' 25th anniversary season. But it feels like there's another character here.

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Simple command: Catch Caught. Now.

Sep 15

Simple command: Catch <i>Caught</i>. Now.

Watching Christopher Chen's new play Caught in its sublime Shotgun Players production is, in a word, disorienting, and that's a good thing. Even clever folk who think they have it all figured out and are hip to what's going on in this mind-twisting play will experience something new here, and it may not be apparent until they leave the theater. Your trust in what is real, what is true (a major theme of the play), will likely have been somewhat shifted. The absurd things that happen to us on a regular basis and all the things we assume are true suddenly seem challenging and connected, as if we've stepped into a Chen play ourselves.

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Shotgun sets a vivacious vintage Mousetrap

Dec 12

Shotgun sets a vivacious vintage <i>Mousetrap</i>

Even though Agatha Christie's most famous, play The Mousetrap, is the longest-running show of any kind in the world (the London production is in its 64th year, with more than 25,000 performances logged) and is performed by school and community theaters on a regular basis, I had never seen it. Nor had I heard one peep about whodunnit, which is really something for such a popular play

So when Berkeley's Shotgun Players announced The Mousetrap as part of its season of women playwrights, I was thrilled at the prospect of at last seeing the play performed by an exciting, enterprising company.

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Shout to the top with Shotgun’s Girls

Jul 11

Shout to the top with Shotgun’s <i>Girls</i>

Would that Caryl Churchill's 1982 play Top Girls was something of a dated relic in its details of the horrors, tribulations, indignities and injustices suffered by women through the ages. Things may have changed in the 33 years since the play's London debut in the era of Margaret Thatcher, but they haven't changed enough. The play, now being given a sterling production by Shotgun Players feels deeper and more relevant than ever.

It's fascinating to see Top Girls in such close proximity to a much more recent Churchill play, Love and Information ...

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