Humanity shines in ACT’s Splendid Suns

Feb 16

Humanity shines in ACT’s <i>Splendid Suns</i>

Let's be honest: sitting in a beautiful theater watching a well-crafted play is an absolute privilege, so where better to challenge our very notions of privilege and confront the reality that much of the world's population is having a very different experience than those of us sitting in the velvet seats? With a play like A Thousand Splendid Suns, the world-premiere adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's 2007 novel now at American Conservatory Theater's Geary Theater.

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Tech & show tunes! SOMA musical skewers Silicon Valley

Oct 23

Tech & show tunes! <i>SOMA</i> musical skewers Silicon Valley

Having lived in San Francisco for 26 years now, it's' sad to say that everything I know about Silicon Valley comes not from firsthand experience of the world outside my doorstep but from the HBO show "Silicon Valley." Based on that show and on the genial South of Market: The Musical, I would venture to say that the best way to deal with that world is through a satirical lens. My impression is that Silicon Valley life/work is so wacky and self-involved it's basically satire that writes itself.

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Heat, sizzle fire up SF Playhouse’s Seared

Oct 02

Heat, sizzle fire up SF Playhouse’s <i>Seared</i>

I'm going to spoil something right off the bat about Theresa Rebeck's fantastic new play Seared now receiving its world premiere from San Francisco Playhouse: there is no conventional romance. Just because the cast consists of one woman and three men does not mean there's going to be a burgeoning love story or a sordid triangle or break-ups or make-ups. No, the central love story comes out of a friendship and business partnership between a chef and a money guy who open a small restaurant in Brooklyn.

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Berkeley Rep’s warning: it can so happen here

Oct 01

Berkeley Rep’s warning: it can <i>so</i> happen here

Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s It Can’t Happen Here is a nightmare on so many levels, and that’s mostly a good thing in the world-premiere adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 novel.

This is the right story at the right time, and therein lies the dark heart of this nightmare.

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Race, politics, compassion at odds in riveting Confederates

Jul 17

Race, politics, compassion at odds in riveting <i>Confederates</i>

A troubled presidential campaign provides the setting for Suzanne Bradbeer's Confederates, a thrilling world-premiere drama from TheatreWorks Silicon Valley now at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto. Developed, in part, at TheatreWorks' New Works Festival, this three-person one-act slices into the heart of modern politics and journalism. Bradbeer comes from a realistic perspective in terms of the degradation of modern journalism and the obfuscating chaos surrounding a presidential campaign, but she might rely on types – the noble young journalism, the crusty older journalist, the naive candidate's daughter – those types deepen into characters with depth, complication and easily relatable flaws, ambitions and conundrums.

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Campo goes seriously sci-fi with Hookers on Mars

Jul 02

Campo goes seriously sci-fi with <i>Hookers on Mars</i>

What's the last great work of dramatic science fiction you saw on a stage? Maybe you'll have to get back to me on that one. Sci-fi, while stellar (in every sense) in comics, games, books, big screens and small screens, has not generally been a successful theatrical genre. Shakespeare, Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams all neglected to set any of their dramas in space, which does seem a shame.

For whatever reason – maybe it's just too much a suspension of disbelief to be in the same roof with actors pretending to be in space, in the future, etc. without feeling a kitschy '70s flashback – sci-fi will likely remain successful outside the theater. But then again there's H.O.M.E. (Hookers on Mars Eventually), a world-premiere play by Star Finch now receiving its world premiere from Campo Santo.

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