Shotgun’s Black Rider dances with the devil

Nov 26

Shotgun’s <i>Black Rider</i> dances with the devil

Thirteen years ago – such an appropriate number of years – American Conservatory Theater made some sort of deal with the devil to get The Black Rider onto the stage of the Geary Theater. Now Berkeley's Shotgun Players revive this decidedly adult fairy tale under the guidance of director Mark Jackson, and the results are heartily satisfying.

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The knockout punch of Aurora’s Royale

Nov 10

The knockout punch of Aurora’s <i>Royale</i>

There's something wonderfully vital and theatrical about Marco Ramirez's The Royale now at . It's a play ostensibly about boxing, but really it addresses the much larger issue of race in America.

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Disney’s Aladdin flies high at the Orpheum

Nov 06

Disney’s <i>Aladdin</i> flies high at the Orpheum

There is no question in my mind, that of all Disney's animated film to Broadway adaptations, Aladdin is the most thoroughly successful. For The Lion King stage adaptation, Julie Taymor offered eye-popping spectacle and stagecraft in service to a flimsy story and even flimsier characters. Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s first Broadway venture, was fun and dazzling but only a ride vehicle away from being a theme park attraction. The less said about the misguided Tarzan and missed opportunities of The Little Mermaid the better.

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Be mindful of the gap: Small Mouth Sounds howls at ACT

Oct 27

Be mindful of the gap: <i>Small Mouth Sounds</i> howls at ACT

The cast of Bess Wohl’s Small Mouth Sounds, an almost entirely wordless play presented by American Conservatory Theater at The Strand Theater, includes (clockwise from left) Ben Beckley, Brenna Palughi, Connor Barrett, Edward Chin-Lyn, Socorro Santiago and Cherene Snow. Below: Six urbanites experience the awkward tension of a silent meditation retreat. Photos...

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Imaginary discomfort rules at Berkeley Rep

Oct 13

<i>Imaginary</i> discomfort rules at Berkeley Rep

The first time I head the title for the new play by Daniel Handler, the San Francisco writer behind the popular Lemony Snicket books, I was confused. Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit is the title, and it wasn't the Snickety-y subtitle that perplexed me. It was the notion that comfort could be imaginary. Isn't comfort comforting no matter where it comes from? You can receive comfort from an external source (a parent, a pet, a narcotic) or you can just imagine comfort (memory, dream, hallucination), but as long as you are comforted, job done...at least for a little while, right?

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SF Playhouse’s Barbecue sizzles

Oct 01

SF Playhouse’s <i>Barbecue</i> sizzles

Robert O'Hara is one of those playwright/directors who, when his name is attached to a project in any way, you pay attention. He's smart, funny and has a keen eye for theatrical disruption. His Insurrection: Holding History may have played at American Conservatory Theater almost 20 years ago, but it remains one of the wildest, most wonderful things I've seen from that company.

O'Hara – the playwright – is back in town with Barbecue, the first show in San Francisco Playhouse's 15th season, and here's what's on the grill: ...

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Crowded Fire tells a futuristic Tale of Autumn

Sep 19

Crowded Fire tells a futuristic <i>Tale of Autumn</i>

Who are the good guys/bad guys? What truth lies behind smokescreens and lies? And when good guys resort to bad behavior, doesn't that make them bad guys, thus leaving no good guys and obscured truth?

San Francisco playwright Christoper Chen's world-premiere A Tale of Autumn, a commission from Crowded Fire Theater, is all about good gone bad and bad gone worse. Imagine Google, Oprah and the U.S. Government wrestling with notions of altruism and greed and you get some idea of what Chen is up to here.

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