Tragedy seemed like such a simple, straightforward thing to the ancient Greeks. Why is it so hard for us to grasp? All that emphasis on hubris, pity, and terror, nobody seems to know exactly what they're really talking about. So why bother? Aurora Theatre inaugurates its new Global Age Project — an initiative centered on work exploring life in the 21st century and beyond — with the West Coast premiere of Small Tragedy, by Craig Lucas (Prelude to a Kiss, The Dying Gaul), a play that slyly approaches the horrors of the war-torn modern age through the seemingly incongruous fumblings of a comically amateur production of Oedipus Rex.
It's a great beginning to a lively backstage comedy that steadily becomes an engrossing reflection on tragedy in a time of ethnic cleansing. But one gets the sense, somewhere after the second act's startling turn of events, that the playwright may have been less certain how to end his work. Moreover, the second act raises the dramatic ante considerably, but its refocusing on two of the six characters also leaves it a bit thinner by comparison. If not a perfect play, however, Small Tragedy — especially as fueled by director Kent Nicholson's fine and thoroughly enjoyable cast — is a sharp and intriguing one. SFBG
Thurs.–Sat., 8 p.m.
Intersection for the Arts
446 Valencia, SF
Through May 14
Wed.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.
2081 Addison, Berk
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