Tokeville - Page 2

Democracy in Berkeley, according to Citizen Josh

(Much of Kornbluth's monologue takes place, figuratively speaking, in Berkeley's Ohlone Park, known as People's Park Annex during the student protests of the late 1960s and still host to the lumpy lattice dome welded together there by protesters, which the unsuspecting Kornbluth uses as a cell phone reception platform and refers to in aesthetic horror as "the structure.")

It's a bumpy ride, all said, for this self-fashioned Don Quixote of democracy. The first 15 minutes or so feel almost too neat, too presentational or precious. Then, as Kornbluth relates the story of his brother's troubled beginning as an extremely premature newborn — and his (by now famous) nonconformist father's startling intervention to save the baby — the performance moves suddenly to a new and altogether gripping register. Although it's not entirely sustained afterward, the next hour proves an engaging one. At the same time, the show ends on an upbeat note of liberal defiance and optimism that is hard to credit in an era when even Wolin can write, in 2003, that "a kind of fascism is replacing our democracy." The show's overt politics is less satisfying than the nuance and complexity that emerge from the more personal and idiosyncratic passages. Citizen Josh is at its most charming and compelling when the accent falls on the second half of that moniker. *


Through June 17

Tues.–Sat., 8:30 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 and 7 p.m.; $20–$45

Magic Theatre, Sam Shepard Stage

Fort Mason Center, bldg. D

Marina at Laguna, SF

(415) 441-8822

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