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stage

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.

theater


Opening

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Golden Gate Theater, 1 Taylor; 512-7770. $34-77. Previews Tues/12, 8pm. Opens Wed/13, 8pm. Runs Tues-Sat, 8pm (also Wed and Sat-Sun, 2pm). Through March 10. Ann-Margret stars in this musical comedy.

Defending the Caveman Curran Theatre, 445 Geary; 512-7770. $32.50-52.50. Opens Wed/6, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 5pm); Sun, 3pm (also Sun/17, 7pm). Through Sun/17. Rob Becker stars in his solo show, a comedy that offers insight into the battle of the sexes.

The Eviction Magic Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna; 441-8822. $10-37. Previews Fri/8-Sat/9, Wed/13-Thurs/14, 8:30pm. Opens Fri/15, 8:30pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 2:30pm (also Feb 24, March 3, 7:30pm). Through March 3. The Magic Theater presents the world premiere of Victor Lodato's drama about a man whose impending homelessness causes him to confuse the line between fantasy and reality.

Frank Olivier's Twisted Cabaret and Pandemonium Vaudeville Show Mason Street Theatre, 340 Mason; 982-5463. $30-42. Previews Thurs/7, 8pm; Fri/8, 8:30pm; Sat/9, 5:30 and 9pm; Sun/10, 3:30pm. Opens Thurs/14, 8pm. Runs Thurs, 8pm; Fri, 8:30pm; Sat, 5:30 and 9pm; Sun, 3:30pm. Open-ended. Performer Frank Olivier presents 15 vignettes of knife-throwing, fire-eating, and other sideshow-style acts with live music.

Megan's Skin Shotwell Studios, Studio A, 3252A 19th St; 467-6782. Call for price. Opens Fri/8, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sun, 8pm. Through Feb 23. RubberMatchSeriez#4 and Footloose at Shotwell Studios present Rey Carolino's backstage play about a Northern Ireland community-theater group's production of Othello.

Patience Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Howard; 978-2787. $20-38. Opens Fri/8, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat and Wed/13-Thurs/14, 8pm (also Sat/16, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through Sun/17. The Lamplighters perform the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera.

Bay Area

'Night, Mother La Val's Subterranean Theatre, 1834 Euclid, Berk; (510) 496-1269, ext 1950. $8-12. Opens Fri/8, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Feb 22. Princess Productions presents Marsha Norman's drama.

Ongoing

The All Night Strut New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972. $15-35. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through March 3. The New Conservatory Theatre Center continues its "In Concert" series with this musical celebration of the 1930s and '40s.

The Beard of Avon Geary Theater, 415 Geary; 749-2228. $11-61. Wed/6-Sat/9, 8pm (also Wed/6, Sat/9-Sun/10, 2pm). Amy Freed's The Beard of Avon makes its local bow at American Conservatory Theater. The play dives headfirst into the knotty "authorship question" behind Shakespeare's plays, asking whether a raw, rhyming lad from Stratford named Will Shakspere could truly have created some of the most immortal literature ever written – or whether he had more than a little help from his friends. Beard is an affectionate satire of the theater, but particularly with Shakespeare in Love – another comedy that handled the question of how a writer becomes great with much more dramatic acuity – in memory yet green, Freed's latest comes up wanting, a low-cal substitute for the real thing. (Rosenstein)

Design for Living Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St; 861-5079. $15-25. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm (also Sun/10, 3pm). Through Sat/16. Design for Living remains one of Noel Coward's thorniest comedies, a seeming confection that hides razor blades in its froth. Director John Fisher updates the play from 1932 to the present, introduces Coward songs as Greek choruses between scenes, and renders the main characters' bisexual ménage à trois in no uncertain terms. Ironically, this most "shocking" of Coward's comedies winds up seeming tame; all the ass-slapping and nipple-grabbing here seems like a facile reassurance, sexual slapstick that diverts attention from the complicated, difficult relationships at the play's core. (Rosenstein)

*Don't Make Me Look Too Psychotic Bannam Place Theater, 50 Bannam Place; 986-4607. $15. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through March 23. Violently unhealthy relationships are the driving force behind Bruce Pachtman's hilarious solo show. Pachtman developed this autobiographical piece after dating a particularly incendiary woman. Psychotic is gut-bustingly funny, which is no small feat considering the seriousness of the material. (Joshua Medsker)

Down the Road Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa; 820-1460. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun/17, 2pm. Through Feb 23. Second Wind Productions presents Lee Blessing's play about a pair of married journalists hired to write a sensationalizing book about a serial killer.

*Five Flights Thick House, 1695 18th St; 401-8081. $15-20. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Feb 24. Five Flights is a fable of faiths in collision, each of its characters desperately looking for something or someone to believe in. Kent Nicholson crafts a gem of presentational staging in perfect sync with playwright Adam Bock's self-conscious structure. Unfortunately, the play loses steam as it strains toward a conclusion of difficult grace. Still, Bock remains a tremendously exciting talent, and you couldn't ask for a better production than this one by the Encore Theatre Company. (Rosenstein)

In Love and Sex Next Stage, 1620 Gough; 673-0304, ext 3. $15-20. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Feb 23. Combined Art Form Entertainment's latest production is a trio of literary adaptations exploring erotic themes. The program include A Defense of the Social Contracts, Dan Wilson's adaptation of Martha Soukup's chilly tale of passion in an antiseptic future; Our Secret, adapted from an Isabel Allende story, which eloquently ruminates on the memories and vulnerabilities of bodies; and the final piece, adapted by the company from The Erotica Project, by Lillian Ann Slugocki and Erin Cressida Wilson, which unleashes a flood of raunchy, bittersweet female fantasies. It's an uneven evening, but it's a pleasure to see sex addressed maturely, with both steamy honesty and nonexploitative visual flair. (Rosenstein)

Kiss of the Spider Woman Phoenix Theater, 653 Geary; 642-1257. $10-15. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Feb 23. Bare Bones Theatre Company kicks off its 2002 season with Manuel Puig's play.

Kiss Me Kate Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market; 512-7770. $34-76. Tues-Sat, 8pm (also Wed and Sat-Sun, 2pm). Through March 3. Cole Porter's musical, set backstage at a performance of Taming of the Shrew, comes to town as part of the "Best of Broadway" series.

Legion New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972. $18-35. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun/10, Feb 24, March 10, 24, 31, 2pm. Through April 6. See "Family Affair," page 45.

The Marriage of Bette and Boo Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor; 648-3091. $12-15. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/16. Density over Duration Productions presents Christopher Durang's comedy about marriage and family.

The Mystery of Irma Vep, a Penny Dreadful New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972. $18-35. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun/10, Sun/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.

On the Verge El Teatro de la Esperanza, 2940 16th St; 385-5826. $10-12. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Sun/17. Wits End Theatre Company performs Wric Overmyer's drama about three Victorian women who trek through time.

Una Noche de Sueños Vidi Flores/A Dream of Flowers A Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida; 399-1809, www.atjt.com. $12.50-25 (Thurs, pay what you can). Thurs/7-Sat/9, 8pm; Sun/10, 2 and 7pm. A Traveling Jewish Theatre dives into the lush world of Ladino, the swiftly disappearing language of the Spanish Jews in exile. The piece, primarily a work of dance and music, takes as its "text" a cycle of original love songs by Albert Greenberg with lyrics rendered in Ladino (a blend of Spanish, Turkish, Hebrew, Greek, etc.) and English and set to the contemporary rhythms of tangos, sambas, jazz, and electronica. Flores is an admirable attempt to rediscover the seductiveness of this too easily forgotten strand of Jewish roots, but Greenberg's modern romanceros tell some pretty familiar stories, and neither Helen Stoltzfus's direction nor Sonya Delwaide's colloquial choreography finds much new in these scenarios. (Rosenstein)

Smoker, a Play in 15 Rounds Exit Theater, 156 Eddy; 885-6460. $12-18. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/16. From Pass the Hat Presents comes a new play by San Francisco's Michael Mace. The title refers to an unauthorized boxing match fought for small change, but Mace's combatants vie for the love and care of a woman and her unborn child (whose father either of them could be). The exploration of male identity in a literal and metaphorical boxing ring may seem a familiar conceit, but Mace (whose Triptych ran at the Exit last year) displays his usual flair for dialogue and crafting a good story. (Avila)

Ten Day Soup The Marsh, 1062 Valencia, 826-5750. $10-15 sliding scale. Wed and Sun, 8pm. Through Feb 20. A performance experiment written by Charles Varon and David Ford, performed by Varon.

This Is Our Youth Actors Theater SF, 533 Sutter; 296-9179. $18-25. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Feb 23. Actors Theatre of San Francisco presents Kenneth Lonergan's play about three young people caught between adolescence and adulthood in 1982 Manhattan.

Bay Area

Culture Clash in AmeriCCa Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949. $10-54. Opens Wed/6, 8pm. Runs Tues and Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through March 3. The comic trio presents its latest show, created especially for and about Berkeley.

Every Inch a King La Val's Subterranean Theater, 1834 Euclid, Berk; (510) 558-1381. $8-18 (Thurs, pay what you can). Thurs/7-Sat/9, 8pm. Central Works performs Gary Graves's comedy about three daughters who must cope with their aging, wealthy father.

The Mandrake Root San Jose Repertory Theatre, 101 Paseo de San Antonio, San Jose; (408) 367-7255. $20-44. Tues-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Feb 24. See "Family Affair," page 45.

Rhinoceros Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949. $16-42. Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat/9, Thurs/14, Feb 23, 28, March 9, 2pm); Sun and Wed, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through March 10. Eugène Ionesco's most famous play gets a major remounting at Berkeley Rep. You'd think this absurdist diatribe against conformity would be remarkably resonant in a time when the herd mentality seems to rule, but unfortunately this production, employing a bland translation-adaptation of the play by Allen Kuharski and Georges Moskos, never takes off. (Rosenstein)

Sockdology Marin Theatre, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; (415) 388-5208. Wed/6-Thurs/7, 7:30pm; Fri/8-Sat/9, 8pm (also Sat/9, 2pm); Sun/10, 2 and 7pm. Jeffrey Hatcher's play about the night Abraham Lincoln was shot takes a fascinating perspective: that of the acting company performing Our American Cousin on the stage of Ford's Theatre. All of the actors, arrested as likely coconspirators of the assassin, are fiercely interrogated, revealing the predictable backstage rivalries and attachments. The script makes a few feints toward a greater resonance, and the production attempts to position itself as a post-Sept. 11 statement on devastating national blows, but unfortunately neither the play nor its rendering add up to much more than a well-crafted historical investigation. Many of the backstage stories are slender indeed, but Hatcher does fine work with the scenes involving magisterial lead actor-manager Laura Keene (Amy Resnick), actor Harry Hawke (Mark Phillips), and interrogator Edwin Stanton (Will Marchetti), and all three performers shine. Director David Dower and designer Kate Boyd don't make as much of the theatrical setting as they might: the whole evening has a somewhat unimaginative, earthbound feel. (Rosenstein)

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

*The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org. $26-35. Wed/6-Sat/9, 8pm; Sun/10, 2 and 7pm. Playwright Naomi Wallace manages to take a situation ripe with potential cliché and transform it into a haunting, original drama. 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)

dance

'Cavewomen 2002' Dance Mission Theatre, 3316 24th St; 273-4633. Extended run: Sat/9, 9:30pm; Sun/10 and Sun/17, 6pm; Fri/15-Sat/16, 8pm. $17-20. In many ways Cavewomen is a throwback to the glory days of Dance Brigade's road-blasting '80s work, feminist multimedia theater propelled by three Ps: passion, performance, and politics. Krissy Keefer's new generation of dancers is as gutsy as her earlier cohorts, if not gutsier. These women put on a hell of a show. (Felciano)

Jess Curtis/Gravity Physical Entertainment ODC Theater, 3153 17th St; 863-9834. Thurs-Sat, Wed/13, 8pm. Through Sat/16. $15-17. ODC artist-in-residence Curtis presents Fallen, an acrobatic piece that explores "the gravity of human relationships, of surrender and resistance, of love and death."

*Robert Moses' Kin Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna; 345-7575. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Sun/17. $15-22.50. Robert Moses's signature classic, Never Solo, set to the Last Poets' rant about rage, power, and pain, seeded his mythic Word of Mouth, a vibrant evocation of a people's culture. Language and music create a richly textured environment that his dancers fill with dizzying excursions into space, punctuated by moments of iconic grandeur. This is Moses's most completely designed work yet, with stunning visuals by Austin Forebord and designer-quality costumes by Mario Alonzo. In particular, the women who appear in this 14-member ensemble are breathtaking: Catherine Ybarra, with her creamily silken expansiveness; Tristan Ching, with her cometlike trajectories; and newcomers Bliss Kohlmyer – electric in her intensity – and Lauren Ann Marcogliese, a fierce hip-hopper of balletic elegance. (Felciano)

'San Francisco Ballet 2002 Repertory Season' War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness; 865-2000. Program One: Wed, 7:30pm; Fri, 8pm. Program Two: Thurs, Sat, Tues, 8pm; (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. $10-120. Program One is the "All Robbins Program," featuring Fanfare, Dances at a Gathering, and Glass Pieces. Program Two includes Prism, Without Words, and Angelo.

Bay Area

'East Bay Dance Festival' Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College, Berk; (925) 798-1300. Fri-Sat, 8pm. $12-15. See Critic's Choice.

performance

'Chinese New Year Celebration' Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness; 864-6000. Sat, 2pm, $12-40. See 8 Days a Week, page 64.

'The Devil in Me' Freight and Salvage, 1111 Addison, Berk; (510) 548-1761. Thurs, 8pm. $16.50. (Also Fri-Sat, 8pm, the Marsh, 1062 Valencia; 826-5750. $15). See 8 Days a Week, page 64.

'DragPie' Marlena's, 488 Hayes; 864-6672. Fri, 10:30pm and midnight. Free. A cast of drag performers – including Cockatelia, Gypsy Calabrese, Sonfondaboyz, Manley Lennox, and Karen Kill – perform; this week's theme is "Two's Company ... Is Three a Crowd?"

'Futch' Luna Sea Theater, 2940 16th St; 863-2989. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/16. $10-15. Karen X., Suzanne Cimone, and Tijanna Eaton star in a performance about women whose identities extend beyond "butch," "femme," and other labels.

'Killing My Lobster Guilty as Sin' Brava Theater Center, 2789 24th St; 267-0642, www.killingmylobster.com. Fri-Sun, 8pm. $10-15. The first KML show of the year doesn't quite deliver the laughs that audiences have come to expect from this group. A promising theme of crooks and crime does spawn a few shining moments – police brutality enacted on a chair, for instance – but also more than a few duds. The program was disappointingly light on the song-and-dance numbers that set these comedians apart from the pack, and irritatingly heavy on the social and political commentary. Kudos to the 12-piece orchestra, though, for supplying the well-arranged music that held an otherwise rambling show together. (Meryl Cohen)

'Night Coming' Jon Sims Center for the Arts, 1519 Mission; 554-0402. Fri, 8pm. $5-10 (no one turned away for lack of funds). Artist in residence Shar Rednour presents a solo show based on the women in her family.

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

'Poets Theater Jubilee' New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom; 626-5416. Sat, 8pm. $5. Plays in this event include Motion Picture Home, by Susan Gevirtz; Equivocal, by Jena Osman; and scenes from City Junket, by Kenward Elmslie.

'Salon Salon' 21 Grand, 21 Grand Ave, Oakl; (510) 444-7263. Tues, 8pm. Free. This reading and performance event includes poet Spencer Selby, the Brown Bunny Ensemble (a music ensemble), and poet Elizabeth Robinson.

'The Sining Kambayoka Ensemble' Theater Artaud, 450 Florida; 621-7797. Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. $13-18. The 14-member group performs traditional music and dance of the tribal groups indigenous to the Southern Phillipines.

'Smudge and Co.' ODC Theatre, 3153 17th St; 863-9834. Mon, 7:30pm. $10. PlayBrokers presents a staged reading of George Crowe's new play.

'The Wet Dream Lesburlesque Reviews' 26 Mix, 3024 Mission; 248-1319. Sun, 7pm-1am. $10. Hifemme Productions hosts "SF's first Gentlemen's club for women only," featuring table dances and a raffle; partial proceeds benefit the Scholarship/Emergency Fund for Dancers.

Bay Area

'Frogz' UC Berkeley, Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft at Telegraph, Berk; (510) 642-9988. Fri-Sat, 8pm. $18-30. Imago Theater brings giant frogs to life onstage in this innovative mask theater performance.

comedy

848 Community Space 848 Divisadero; 541-5610. Mon, 8:30pm: "Qcomedy Showcase," featuring Carla Clayy, Janis Lipton, Blake, Erin Souza, Bridget Schwartz, and more, $8.

Bay Area

Café Eclectica 1309 Solano, Berk; (510) 527-2344. Sat, 8pm: SF Improv performs "The Birthday Show," free.

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: Mama Bears Women's Bookstore 6536 Telegraph, Oakl; (510) 506-3717. "SheSpeaks," open mic night for women 18 and over, 7:30pm, $5.

Thursday: Morrison Library UC Berkeley, Doe Library, Berk; (510) 642-0137. Poet Robert Pinsky reads, 12:10pm, free.

Friday: Cafe International 508 Haight; 552-7390. "Open Myc Series," with featured reader Nduku Makpaulu, 7:30pm, free. Yakety Yak Coffee House 679 Sutter; 285-2951. Open mic and featured reader Elizabeth Chen, 7:30pm, free.

Saturday: Coffee with a Beat 458 Perkins, Oakl; (510) 526-5985. "Word Beat Reading Series," with featured readers Sydney Bell and Debralee Pagan, plus open mic, 7-9pm, free. Berkeley Art Center 1275 Walnut, Berk; (510) 644-6893. "Rhythm and Muse," open mic with featured performer Carol Denney, 7pm, free.

Sunday: Justice League 628 Divisadero; 255-9035, ext 11. "Second Sundays," with Goapele, Aya de Leon, and Dennis Kim, plus open mic poetry slam, 7pm, $6-10.

Monday: Notes from Underground Café 2399 Van Ness; 928-8904. "Celebration of the Word," with featured reader Anne Bacon Soule and host Jeanne Powell, 7pm, free. Café de la Paz 1600 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 843-0662. "Poetry Nitro," performance showcase featuring Claudia Giselle, plus open mic, 8pm, free.

Tuesday: The Beanery 2925 College, Berk' (510) 549-9093. "The Whole Note," poetry series with Annalee Walker, 7pm, free.