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Stage listings are compiled by Cheryl Eddy. Performance times may change; call venues to confirm. Reviewers are Robert Avila, Sima Belmar, Rita Felciano, and Brad Rosenstein. See 8 Days a Week for information on how to submit items to the listings.



The Beard of Avon Geary Theater, 415 Geary; 749-2228. $11-61. Opens Wed/16, 8pm. Runs Tues-Sat, 8pm (Sun/20, Tues/22, show at 7pm; also Wed, Sat-Sun, 2pm, except no matinees Wed/16 or Sun/20). Through Feb 10. American Conservatory Theater presents Amy Freed's new comedy about Shakespeare's rise from "hick actor" to renowned playwright.

Design for Living Theater Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St; 861-5079. $15-25. Previews Thurs/17-Fri/18, 8pm. Opens Sat/19, 8pm and Sun/20, 7pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm (also Sun/27, Feb 3, 10, 3pm). Through Feb 16. Director John Fisher puts a new spin on Noel Coward's tale of a threesome.

*Don't Make Me Look Too Psychotic
Bannam Place Theater, 50 Bannam Place; 986-4607. $15. Return engagement: Opens Thurs/17, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through March 23. Violently unhealthy relationships are the driving force behind Bruce Pachtman's hilarious solo show, which closed last year after a triumphant 58-week run and is now reopening for a return engagement at the Bannam Place Theater. Pachtman developed this autobiographical piece after dating a particularly incendiary woman. Bruce and Gloria have a lot in common, like drinking problems and intimacy issues. Don't Make Me Look Too Psychotic is gut-bustingly funny, which is no small feat considering the seriousness of the material. Pachtman's characterizations are perfect, and he knows when to stop talking about himself and move the story along. Plus, it's a great story. And that makes all the difference. (Joshua Medsker)

Five Flights Thick House, 1695 18th St; 401-8081. $15-20. Previews Thurs/17-Sun/20, 8pm. Opens Mon/21, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Feb 24. Encore Theater Company opens its 15th season with Adam Bock's world premiere, a play about a grieving widower who builds an aviary and how this act affects his children.

Jump Exit Theater Cafe, 156 Eddy; 864-4669. $10. Opens Fri/18, 8:30pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8:30pm. Through Feb 2. Nena St. Louis performs an autobiographical performance piece.

The Last Bling Bling Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa; 646-0868. $10-13 (opening night, audience paid $1 to attend). Opens Thurs/17, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Sun/27. The 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors ("the world's most psychotic Asian American comedy group") present an all-new skit comedy show.

The Mystery of Irma Vep, a Penny Dreadful New Conservatory Theater Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972. $18-35. Previews Wed/16-Fri/18, 8pm. Opens Sat/19, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun/27, Feb 3, 10, 17, 2pm. Through Feb 23. Charles Ludlam's comic, gothic farce, presented by the New Conservatory Theatre Center, is a two-actor play filled with multiple characters, zany gags, costumes, and fast-paced action.

Smoker, a Play in 15 Rounds Exit Theater, 156 Eddy; 885-6460. $12-18. Opens Fri/18, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Feb 16. New theater company Pass the Hat Productions debuts with Michael Mace's new boxing-themed play about "what it means to be a father and a modern man."

Bay Area

I Hate Hamlet Contra Costa Civic Theatre, 951 Pomona, El Cerrito; (510) 524-9132. $8-12. Opens Fri/18, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm; Feb 3, 10, 2pm. Through Feb 23. Contra Costa Civic Theatre presents Paul Rudnick's comedy.

Old Money Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 600 Castro, Mountain View; (650) 903-6000. $20-40. Previews Wed/16-Fri/18, 8pm. Opens Sat/19, 8pm. Runs Tues, 7:30pm (no show Feb 5); Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Feb 2, 9, 2pm); Sun, 2pm (also Sun/20, Feb 3, 7pm). Through Feb 10. TheatreWorks performs Wendy Wasserstein's comedy about time travel, wealth, and class in New York society.

Rhinoceros Thrust Stage, Berkeley Rep, 2025 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949. $16-42. Previews Fri/18-Sat/19, Tues/22, 8pm; Sun/20, 7pm. Opens Wed/23, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat/26, Jan 31, Feb 2, 9, 14, 23, 28, March 9, 2pm; no show Feb 1); Sun and Wed, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through March 10. Berkeley Rep presents Eugene Ionesco's absurdist modern classic.

Three Sisters Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 528-5620. $10. Opens Fri/18, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Feb 14, 8pm). Through Feb 16. Actors Ensemble of Berkeley performs David Mamet's adaptation of the Chekhov play.


The A**hole Monologues Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna; 474-8935. $15-50. Thurs, 8pm. Through Jan 31. The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America benefits from this show "conceived in the spirit of The Vagina Monologues;" the rotating cast includes David Schutte from Alice 97.3, Melissa Howard from The Real World: New Orleans, and numerous other local and national comedians and performers.

Copenhagen Curran Theatre, 445 Geary; 512-7770. $34-68. Tues-Sat, 8pm (also Wed, Sat-Sun, 2pm). Through Feb 3. See "Stages of Science," page 41.

A Dream of Flowers A Traveling Jewish Theater, 470 Florida; 399-1809, www.atjt.com. $12.50-25 (Thurs, pay what you can). Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Feb 10. A Traveling Jewish Theater presents the Ladino Project in a musical play that explores the culture of Jews with Spanish origins.

Euphor!um Bldg 920, Mason St, Presidio (enter from Marina Blvd through the Crissy Field gate); 332-9454. New schedule: Thurs, 6-10pm; Fri-Sat, 7-11:30pm; Sun, 3-7pm. Through Sun/27. $15. Antenna presents its interactive journey through Samuel Taylor Coleridge's opium-inspired poem "Kubla Khan."

*The Lights ODC Theater, 3153 17th St; 863-9834. $16-20. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/26. Howard Korder's play, a twisted valentine to urban madness and energy, focuses on three young residents of an unnamed city who get pushed to their limits. Val Hendrickson, a veteran director of Korder's work, is in perfect tune with the play's edgy seriocomic tone, and with choreographer Reginald Ray-Savage he deploys a cast of 15 around the ODC space with great finesse, creating a far-reaching urban canvas. But the kicker is Marcus Shelby's original musical score, performed live and almost continuously throughout by his hefty jazz orchestra. The orchestra and its sounds, from seductive purrs to ferocious blasts, summon up the relentless thereness of the city from which the characters can't escape and which holds them in thrall. Hendrickson and Shelby still manage to let the play take precedence, and the naturalistic miking ensures that we don't miss a word. Areta Wang, Lara Bruckmann, Matthew Henerson, and Chris Pflueger all do first-rate work, along with Joseph A. Cincotti and Roberto Robinson in multiple roles. (Rosenstein)

'Risk Is This ... the Cutting Ball New Plays Festival: Staged Readings by Three Playwrights Who Are Changing What Theater Can Be' Theater Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St; 861-5079. $12. Thurs-Sat, 8:30pm (additional shows Sun, 2pm, Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College, Berk). Through Jan 27. The plays in this festival include Chain Reactions (Thurs/10-Sun/13), by Trevor Allen; The Bad Math Plays (Thurs/17-Sun/20), by Kevin Oakes; and Begging the Eclipse (Thurs/24-Sun/27), by Caridad Svich.

Romeo and Juliet Jon Sims Center for the Performing Arts, 1519 Mission; 377-0457. $8-12. Sat-Sun, 8pm. Through Sun/27. What's in a Name Productions presents an updated version of the Shakespeare classic.

Say Ray The Marsh, 1062 Valencia; 826-5750. $15. Thurs/17-Sat/19, 8pm. Writer-performer Ron Jones's latest piece tells the tale of Ray Fernandez, a mentally disabled man who comes into money. The hustling son of Ray's board-and-care operator carts Ray off to Mexico for a spree until the money runs out and abandons him in a small town where Ray winds up being hailed as either Elvis or Jesus or both. Jones proved himself a spellbinding theatrical storyteller with his last piece, Buddha Blues, also directed by David Ford. But Say Ray has a long way to go. Jones constantly breaks the narrative to focus on his real-life friendship with the mentally disabled man performing with him, Michael Rice. Rice, a delightful presence, proves himself a more comfortable actor than Jones, but the frequent interruptions finally make Ray's story insignificant. The evening simply becomes a celebration of the friendship of the two guys onstage – not the worst result imaginable, but not quite the point of the exercise either. (Rosenstein)

*The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe Theatre on the Square, 450 Post; 433-9500. $35-50. Wed-Thurs, Tues/22, Tues/29, Feb 19, 8pm; Fri-Sat, 8:30pm; Sat-Sun, 3pm (also Sun, 7:30pm). Extended through Feb 24. Sixteen years after her play's first appearance, Jane Wagner's script still ranks among the most brilliant theater writing of recent decades. Its 13-character universe still crackles with the breadth of its thought, humor, and compassion. Lily Tomlin remains a spot-on powerhouse, etching seamless worlds with the vocal and gestural versatility of a master. (Rosenstein)

Urban Zulu Mambo Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, 620 Sutter; 474-8800. $22-30. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Sun/27. The West Coast premiere of Regina Taylor's collaborative concept piece features short solo works by three African American women playwrights, bridged by Taylor's title poem. The renowned Rhodessa Jones replaces Taylor for the San Francisco production, embodying in succession a homeless woman and her discoursing dog in Suzan-Lori Parks's Talking to Jupiter, an art student obsessed with her idealized male subject in Ntozake Shange's Liliane, and a pregnant breast cancer survivor-survivalist in Kia Corthron's Safe Box. Originally intended as a countdown to 2000 called Millennium Mambo, these idiosyncratic studies in alienation are pervaded by an apocalyptic tone. A giddy foreboding mingles with defiance in the humor, flights of fancy, and frantic energy exhibited by the characters, culminating in Taylor's image of the woman warrior. Despite inconsistencies in the writing, the monologues frequently sparkle. The production's limitations lie more in a certain slackness. The spare stage design and Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe's lenient direction leave Jones, a formidable presence, too much on her own in this demanding play. (Avila)

Bay Area

'Better than Broadway' Larkspur Cafe Theatre, 500 Magnolia, Larkspur; (415) 924-6107. $20 (with dinner at 7pm, $32). Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/26. Hoochi-Doo Productions presents a revue of shows produced by the company in the past year, plus a look at the season ahead.

Every Inch a King La Val's Subterranean Theater, 1834 Euclid, Berk; (510) 558-1381. $8-18 (Thurs, pay what you can). Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat/26, Feb 2, 5pm); Sun, 5pm. Through Feb 9. Central Works performs Gary Graves's comedy about three daughters who must cope with their aging, wealthy father.

*The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org. $26-35. Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Sun, 2 and 7pm). Through Feb 10. It's baffling why Naomi Wallace remains one of the best-kept secrets in American theater, since her plays represent some of the brightest and most thoughtful playwriting being crafted these days. Here she manages to take a situation ripe with potential cliché and transform it into a haunting, original drama. Two teenagers in a depression-era town have little to look forward to but the challenge of playing chicken with an express train that regularly passes them by. Wallace deftly interweaves events before and after the inevitable tragedy to paint a picture of a town that has become unhinged by the paralysis of unemployment and exploitation. The play loses some of its juice in a diffuse second act, but for most of its length this is a wonderfully rich and harrowing exploration of youth, sex, and the failed promise of American dreams. Under Søren Oliver's finely measured direction the entire ensemble is excellent, including two knockout performances by Jennifer Wagner and Ian Scott McGregor Jurcso as the two young leads. (Rosenstein)


'Arte y compás' Timo's Restaurant, 842 Valencia; 647-0558. Sun, 7 and 8:30pm. Call for price. The flamenco group performs dinner shows.

'Be With' Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard; 978-ARTS. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. $16-20. See Critic's Choice.

'CaveWomen 2002' Dance Mission Theatre, 3316 24th St; 273-4633. Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Jan 31, 8pm); Sun, 6pm. Through Feb 2. $17-20. See "Forces of Nature," page 42.

Bay Area

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael; (415) 472-3500. Fri, 8pm. $18-34. This company of professional male dancers performs parodies of classical ballet and modern dance.


'Arts Colony Survivor' and 'Reduced' Jon Sims Center for the Arts, 1519 Mission; 626-5416. Fri, 8pm. $5. Small Press Traffic, New Langton Arts, and the Jon Sims Center for the Arts present this installment of the "Poets Theater Jubilee," featuring works by Norma Cole and Kevin Killian, and Rachel Levitsky and Camille Roy.

'Bay One-Acts Festival' Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson; 1-866-468-3399, www.ticketweb.com or www.threewisemonkeys.org. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Feb 3. $15-18 one show, $40-45 three shows. This week the plays include Prologue: A Rough Play for an Unholy Theatre, by Alan Fitch; Findamate Dot Com, by Donna Trousdale; Monkey Subdues the White Bone Demon, by Cary Groner; and Hey Ho and up She Rises, by Katy Brown. See 8 Days a Week, page 48.

'Fauxgirls!' Marlena's, 488 Hayes; 864-6672. Sat, 10pm. Free. Anjelica Devarox and Victoria Secret host a drag cabaret.

Flash Family Blue Bear Theater, Fort Mason Center, Bldg D, Second fl, Marina at Laguna; 885-5678. Sat, 8:30pm. Through Feb 9. $7-14. The long-running improv theater company performs.

'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!' Aunt Charlie's Lounge, 133 Turk; 441-2922. Fri-Sat, 10pm (also Sat, midnight). Free. Tiger Lily (Fri) and Kristy Cruise (Sat) host drag cabarets.

Harvey Sid Fisher Odeon Bar, 3223 Mission; 648-8627. Fri-Sun, 9pm. $10. See 8 Days a Week, page 48.

'One Man Band Night' Odeon Bar, 3223 Mission; 648-8627. Thurs, 9pm. Call for price. This week's performer is the Coffee Problem, with Krob.

'Pigmeat Markham, Thanks for Everything ... Spike Lee' Spanganga, 3376 19th St; 821-1102. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Feb 9. $12. Sketch comedy and improv theater group Oui Be Negroes perform its latest show.

'Post-Futurism in Review' Spanganga, 3376 19th St; 821-1102, sessions.laughingsquid.org. Sun, 7pm. $5-10. See 8 Days a Week, page 48.

'San Francisco Sketch Comedy Festival' Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter; www.sfsketchfest.com. Thurs-Sun, 8pm (also Fri-Sat, 10:30pm). Through Sun/27. $12. This festival highlights local sketch comedy troupes. Thurs: White Noise Radio Theater and Please Leave the Bronx; Fri-Sat: the Meehan Brothers and Kasper Hauser; Sun: White Noise Radio Theater and Totally False People.

'Unnatural Acts: A Vaudeville Cabaret' Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk; 923-0923. Thurs, 9pm. $10. Hostess Doll-ya Hoffman-Kaufman-Stein-Steinberg guides the audience through performances by Extreme Elvis, the Tina and Bobby Dance Company, spoken word artists, singers, and more.

'Women on the Way Festival' Venue 9, 252 Ninth St; 289-2000, wwwvenue9.com. Thurs-Sun, 8pm. Through Feb 3. $15. This week, Thurs: Groucho: A Day in the D'Elia Soup, by Tine D'Elia; How to be a Secret Agent Girl as Seen on American Television and in the Movies, by Catherine Daly. Fri: Groucho; World Affairs, by Daughters of Yam, Opal Palmer Adisa, and Devorah Major. Sat: Nothing is Sacred, by Erica Sodos; How to be a Secret Agent Girl.... Sun: Date Me, by Eleanor Scott; Groucho. See 8 Days a Week, page 48.

'Yugen Presents' Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa; 621-7978. Mon-Tues, 8pm. $10-15. This month's performances are Re-Bound: Movement in Tethers, by dancer Artemis Anderson, and Necropolis ... An Incantation for the Dead, a multimedia theater work by Nemo.

Bay Area

Andrea Marcovicci Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, 200 N. San Pedro, San Rafael; (415) 444-8000. Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. $30-35. The "Callas of cabaret" performs songs by Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Jerome Kern, and others.

National Acrobats of Taiwan, R.O.C. UC Berkeley, Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft at Telegraph, Berk; (510) 642-9988. Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm). $20-32. The group performs high-flying feats of balance and agility.

'Word Descarga: Poets and Musicians Collaborate across Cultures' La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 849-2568. Fri-Sat, 8pm. $10. Friday, poet and performer Genny Lim, poet and Los Delicados member Paul S. Flores, percussionist John Santos, and saxophonist and flautist Melecia Magdaluyo take the stage; Saturday, spoken word artists Aya de Leon and performer Robert Henry Johnson share the bill.


Art's Coffee Shop 138 Church; 931-2272. Fri, 8pm: "Castro Comedy," with host "Crippled Comic" Bob Douglas, $10 (no one turned away for lack of funds).

Bayfront Theater Building B, Third fl, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna; 474-8935. Fri, 8pm: "Romantic Comedy," $12. Sat, 8pm: "Theatresports All-Stars," $12. Sun, 8pm: "Micetro," $6.

Brainwash Cafe 1122 Folsom; 861-3663. Thurs, 8pm: comedy night, free.

848 Community Space 848 Divisadero; 541-5610. Fri-Sun, 8pm: "Qcomedy presents Scott Capurro," $12. Mon: "Qcomedy presents Monday Night Gay Comedy" with host Karen Ripley and performers Danny Ryan, David Guiney, Jeofrey Douglas, Don McCracken, James Judd, Bridget Schwartz, and others, $8.

The Marsh 1062 Valencia; 826-5750. Sat, 9pm: Stand-up comedy open mic hosted by Tom Smith, $7; 10pm: "The Mock All-Star Comedian Showcase," $7.

One World Cafe 1799 McAllister; 776-9358. Fri, 7:30pm: open mic with host Corrine Petteys, free.

Rasselas 1534 Fillmore; 921-2051. Sat, 7pm: "San Francisco Comedy Beat," with comedy, improv, and music, $7.

Spanganga 3376 19th St; 474-8935. Sat, 10pm: "Ha Bloody Ha!," comedians, sketches, videos, and art, hosted by Harmon Leon, $5.

'They Call Me Shitshoes' Spanganga, 3376 19th St; 821-1102. Fri, 10pm. Through Feb 22. $10. Prankster and comedian Harmon Leon performs in a solo show inspired by his real-life experiences as a ventriloquist, birthday-party clown, and more.

Sea Biscuit 3815 Noriega; 661-3784. Wed, 8pm: open mic comedy with hosts Tony Sparks and Tom Smith, free.

Bay Area

Kimball's East 6005 Shellmound, Emeryville; (510) 658-2555, ext 4. Wed, 7pm: "The Other Comedy," multicultural comedy showcase, free ($5 after 7pm).

Mingles 370 Embarcadero, Jack London Square, Oakl; (510) 466-5735. Fri, 7pm: "The Other Comedy," multicultural comedy showcase, free before 7pm ($5 after).

Papa Buzz Café 2318 Telegraph, Oakl; (510) 763-6494. Fri, 6-10pm: comedy night with host Mike Holley, $5.

spoken word

Open mics take place almost every night in cafés throughout the Bay Area. If you want to perform, show up about half an hour before start time to put your name on the list. A day-by-day guide to word events and featured readers:

Wednesday: Brainwash Cafe 1126 Folsom; 864-3842. "Spoken Word Salon," with host Diamond Dave Whitaker, 8pm, free. La Peña Cultural Center 3105 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 849-2572. "Word and Sing," open mic with host Paul Flores and featuring Joyce Young's Writing and Resistance Workshop, 8pm, $3. Cody's Books 2454 Telegraph, Berk; (510) 845-7852. "Poetry Flash," with Tea Party magazine contributors, 7:30pm, $2. World Ground Café 3726 MacArthur, Oakl; (510) 482-2933. "World Ground Poetry Series," open mic and featured readers, 7pm, free.

Thursday: Café 1428 1428 Alice, Oakl; (510) 239-2239, ext 2899. "Poet Skool! The AfroNeoPolyTan Poetry Series," with host Paradise Freejahlove, 7-10pm, free.

Friday: Yakety Yak Coffee House 679 Sutter; 285-2951. Attaboy reads, with open mic, 7:30pm, free.

Saturday: Coffee with a Beat 458 Perkins, Oakl; (510) 526-5985. "Word Beat Reading Series," with featured readers Tim Donnelly and Anna May Stanley, plus open mic, 7-9pm, free. Edinburgh Castle 950 Geary; www.castlenews.com. "Insight, Intelligence, Foresight, and Balls," reading with Alan Black, Jack Boulware, and Keith Zimmerman, 10pm, free.

Monday: Notes from Underground Café 2399 Van Ness; 928-8904. "Celebration of the Word," with featured reader Steve Arntson and host Jeanne Powell, 7pm, free. Rasselas 1534 Fillmore; 346-8696. Open mic featuring the Dee Spencer Trio, 8pm, free. Café de la Paz 1600 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 843-0662. "Poetry Nitro," performance showcase featuring Thea Hillman and host Mark States, plus open mic, 8pm, free. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum 701 Mission; 978-ARTS, www.youthspeaks.org. Youth Speaks presents "Bringing the Noise for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr," 7pm, $2-8. See 8 Days a Week, page 48.