Stage listings are compiled by Guardian staff. Performance times may change; call venues to confirm. Reviewers are Robert Avila, Rita Felciano, and Nicole Gluckstern. Submit items for the listings at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frau Bachfeifengesicht's Spectacle of Perfection Stage Werx Theatre, 533 Sutter; 1-800-838-3006, www.circusfinelli.com. $15-20. Opens Fri/2, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sun, 8pm. Through April 25. San Francisco's all-women clown troupe, Circus Finelli, performs their comedy show inspired by European circus acts and American vaudeville.
Lady, Be Good! Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson; 255-8207, www.42ndstmoon.org. $8-44. Previews Wed/31, 7pm; Thurs/1-Fri/2, 8pm. Opens Sat/3, 6pm. Runs Wed, 7pm; Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm (also April 10, 1pm); Sun, 3pm. Through April 18. 42nd Street Moon presents George and Ira Gershwin's madcap tale of a brother-sister vaudeville team in the 1920s.
Macho Bravado Thick House, 1695 18th St; http://machobravado.eventbee.com. $15-25. Previews Thurs/1-Fri/2, 8pm. Opens Sat/3, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm (no show April 4). Through April 24. Asian American Theater Company performs Alex Park's drama about a Korean-American soldier dealing with life on the home front after fighting in the Middle East.
Scalpel! Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St; 647-2822, www.brava.org. $20-35. Opens Wed/31, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat and April 5 and 14, 8pm; April 11, 3pm. Through April 17. Writer-director D'arcy Drollinger's world premiere is a comedic rock thriller that satirizes the pursuit of plastic-surgery perfection.
John Gabriel Borkman Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org. $34-55. Previews Fri/2-Sat/3 and April 7, 8pm; Sun/4, 2pm. Opens April 8, 8pm. Runs Tues and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm); Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through May 9. Aurora Theatre Company performs Henrik Ibsen's pointed indictment of capitalism.
*...And Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi Cutting Ball Theater, 277 Taylor; 1-800-838-3006, www.cuttingball.com. $15-30. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through April 11. In this inspired poetical-historical counter-narrative from Bay Area playwright Marcus Gardley, Greek mythology, African American folklore, personal family history, and Christian theology are all drawn irresistibly along in a great sweep of wild and incisive humor, passion, pathos and rousing gospel music as buoyant and wide as the Mississippi or rather Miss Sippi (the impressive Nicole C. Julien), personification of the mighty and flighty river. The Cutting BallPlaywrights Foundation coproduction, lovingly directed by Amy Mueller, sports exquisite design touches from Cutting Ball regulars like Michael Locher, whose gorgeous plank-wood set serves as the ideal platform for a work both magnificently simple and eloquently evocative. (Avila)
Baby: A Musical Off-Market Theatres, 965 Mission; 1-800-838-3006, www.roltheatre.com. $20-32. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through April 18. Ray of Light Theatre performs a comedy about pregnancy.
*Den of Thieves SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter; 677-9596, www.sfplayhouse.org. $40. Tues, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm). Through April 17. Stephen Adly Guirgis has been good to SF Playhouse. The company already scored big with two of the New Yorker's gritty, dark and sharply funny plays, Our Lady of 121st Street and Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train. Director Susi Damilano continues the streak with SF Playhouse's latest, the less heavy but very funny Den of Thieves, about an unlikely foursome of inept bandits caught trying to heist a Mafioso's safe under a discotheque in Queens a simple tale that gives plenty of scope to Guirgis's muscular way with dialogue and the clash of characters. It's a meaty comedy, and the exceptional cast sells the conceit so beautifully they make it a crime to miss. (Avila)
Desperate Affection Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa; www.expressionproductions.com. $28. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through April 10. Expression Productions presents a dark comedy by Bruce Graham.
The Diary of Anne Frank Next Stage, 1620 Gough; 1-800-838-3006, www.custommade.org. $10-28. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through May 1. Custom Made performs Wendy Kesselman's modern take on the classic.
Eat, Pray, Laugh! Off-Market Theaters, 965 Mission; www.brownpapertickets.com. $20. Wed, 8pm. Through April 28. Off-Market Theaters presents stand up comic and solo artist Alicia Dattner in her award-winning solo show.
An Enemy of the People Eureka Valley Recreation Center Auditorium, 100 Collingwood; http://sffct.wordpress.com. Free. Fri-Sat, 7:30pm; April 11, 3pm. Through April 11. San Francisco Free Civic Theatre performs Henrik Ibsen's drama.
*Loveland The Marsh, 1074 Valencia; 826-5750, www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through April 25. Starting May 8, runs Sat, 5pm and Sun, 2pm at the Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk. Through June 13. Los Angelesbased writer-performer Ann Randolph returns to the Marsh with a new solo play partly developed during last year's Marsh run of her memorable Squeeze Box. Randolph plays loner Frannie Potts, a rambunctious, cranky, and libidinous individual of decidedly odd mien, who is flying back home to Ohio after the death of her beloved mother. The flight is occasion for Frannie's own flights of memory, exotic behavior in the aisle, and unabashed advances toward the flight deck brought on by the seductively confident strains of the captain's commentary. The singular personality and mother-daughter relationship that unfurls along the way is riotously demented and brilliantly humane. (Avila)
Othello African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton; 1-800-838-3006, www.african-americanshakes.org. $20-30. Wed-Thurs, 10am (school matinees); April 10 and 17, 8pm; Sat/3, April 11, and April 18, 3pm. Through April 18. African-American Shakespeare Company closes its 15th season with this adaptation of Shakespeare's play, set during a modern-day military tribunal in Iraq.
Pearls Over Shanghai Hypnodrome, 575 Tenth St.; 1-800-838-3006, www.thrillpeddlers.com. $30-69. Fri-Sat, 8pm; starting July 10, runs Sat, 8pm and Sun, 7pm. Extended through August 1. Thrillpeddlers presents this revival of the legendary Cockettes' 1970 musical extravaganza.
Ramble-Ations: A One D'Lo Show Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St; 647-2822, www.brava.org. $10-25. Thurs/1-Sat/2, 8pm; Sun/3, 3pm. Performance artist D'Lo offers up a comedic solo show from a unique (gay, Hindi, Sri Lankan, SoCal, hip-hop) perspective.
The Real Americans The Marsh, 1062 Valencia; 826-5750, www.themarsh.org. $18-50. Wed-Fri, 8pm (April 16, show at 9pm; starting April 24, no Fri shows except May 28, 8pm); Sat, 5pm; Sun, 3pm. Through May 30. The Marsh presents the world premiere of Dan Hoyle's new solo show.
Shopping! The Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter; 1-800-838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $27-29. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Ongoing. The musical is now in its fifth year at Shelton Theater.
Suddenly Last Summer Actors Theatre, 855 Bush; 345-1287, www.actorstheatresf.org. $15-35. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through April 10. Actors Theatre presents one of Tennessee Williams' finest and most famous plays.
*The Sugar Witch New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-4914, www.nctcsf.org. Wed/31-Sat/3, 8 pm; Sun/4, 2pm. Sisser (A.J. Davenport) has eaten her way into a wheelchair on the front porch, where she keeps a collection of bugs she occasionally likes to smoosh and have buried in the yard by her doting younger brother Moses (Michael Phillis). In contrast to Sisser's morbid streak (and it only gets worse), Moses Bean is a good guy, very much the exception to the cursed Bean household sitting ramshackle at the edge of the mud. Annabelle (Kendra Owens), last in an ancient line of African American "sugar witches," recounts how Moses was, like his namesake, snatched as a baby from a floating basket, impressing their already smitten guest, local undertaker and Moses's love interest Hank (William Giammona). But when a rudely aggressive female suitor (Amelia Mulkey) with a mean grandpappy (Jay Smith) offends Sisser, that old Bean curse gets a new coat of red paint, putting happy endings in jeopardy. With The Sugar Witch, playwright Nathan Sanders continues the gothic saga he began Off-Broadway with first play The Sugar Bean Sisters, set in an imaginary Florida swamp town not far from Disney World. But if Sugar Bean is something of a low-rent magic kingdom, complete with flying cats and occult spells, here the history of racism and patriarchal tyranny tends to resurface like so many bodies imperfectly weighted down and fed to the swamp. That history/mystery adds a stark, potent dimension to an otherwise fitfully effective, somewhat sentimental dark comedy, gamely acted all around under Dennis Lickteig's thoughtful direction. (Avila)
Truce Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa; 826-1958. $10-25. Wed/31-Sat/3, 8pm. Playwright-performer Marilee Talkington stars in Vanguardian Productions' presentation of her autobiographical work about a woman struggling with impending blindness.
What Mama Said About Down There Our Little Theater, 287 Ellis; 820-3250, www.theatrebayarea.org. $15-25. Thurs-Sun, 8pm. Through July 30. Writer-performer-activist Sia Amma presents this largely political, a bit clinical, inherently sexual, and utterly unforgettable performance piece.
*Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, berkeleyrep.org. $13.50-27. Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm); Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat and April 8, 2pm). Through April 11. That the camera always tells the truth is the biggest lie, as
any array of deliberately posed models and idealized landscapes can attest. Naomi Iizuka's Concerning Strange Devices for the Distant West offers an intriguing glimpse behind the photographic façade from both sides of the lens. Using the medium of photography as its unifying thread, Strange Devices ties together two moments in time the 19th century and the present as a collector of rare Meiji-era photographs (Bruce McKenzie) comes to modern Yokohama to make a buy, eager to believe in the constructed reality their images represent. But as the tantalizing fragments of a mystery of birthright unfold within an elaborate web of forgery, fraud, and blackmail, so does the realization that, even posed, the truth of a photograph lies within the moment of time it captures, even when misinterpreted by the viewer. A spare set of sliding panels designed by Mimi Lien suggests both the interior of a camera and the secret sliding compartments of a Japanese puzzle box, and the intricate, interlocking tattoo art designed by costumer Annie Smart dazzles, as does the "camera-flash" lighting by Alexander V. Nichols. (Gluckstern)
*East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-35. April 9, 16, 30, and May 7, 9pm; April 10, May 1, and May 8, 8pm; April 18 and 25, 2pm. Through May 8. Don Reed's solo play, making its Oakland debut after an acclaimed New York run, is truly a welcome homecoming twice over. (Avila)
*A Seagull in the Hamptons Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $15-30. Wed, 7pm; Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through April 25. A fiery young man (Liam Callister) stages a beachfront play starring his equally ardent first love (Kelsey Venter) for the benefit of the familiar flock of seasonal neighbors out on Long Island and the professional and spiritual punishment of his commercially successful and completely self-absorbed actress-mother (Trish Mulholland). Youthfully high-spirited and talented, the world (especially out here) might have proved his oyster, but things soon fall apart, disintegrating and melding again on the shoreline (handsomely evoked in Robert Broadfoot's scenic design) as if he and the other nine characters in this shrewd, droll and melancholic play were so many sand castles. Emily Mann's free adaptation of Chekhov's Seagull captures the essence of his early "comedy" very much a human comedy, brimming with pain, turmoil and tragedy in equal measure with laughter, love and folly and yet manages to be completely of its own (our own) time and place, so effortlessly as to seem a little miraculous. It helps, naturally, that director Reid Davis has assembled a very solid and enjoyable ensemble cast for this wonderfully tailored Shotgun Players production. The opening play-within-a-play is apt several times over, but not least because this is a satisfying night of theater for anyone who loves theater, and anyone else who still doesn't know it yet. (Avila)
BATS Improv Theatre Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna; www.improv.org. Fri-Sat, 8pm. $17-20. This week: "Murder Mystery Friday" and "Theatresports Saturday."
"Cabaret Showcase Showdown" Martuni's, Four Valencia; 241-0205, www.dragatmartunis.com. Sun, 7pm. As part of their ongoing competition, Katya Ludmilla Smirnoff-Skyy and Mrs. Trauma Flintstone search for the best R&B/urban pop singer.
"City Solo" Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission; www.brownpapertickets.com. Sun, 7pm. Through April 18. $15. This showcase highlights solo performers presenting excerpts from their full-length shows.
"Dance Monks Presents Body and Sound Improvisation Festival" Kunst-Stoff Arts, 929 Market; www.dancemonks.com. Fri, 6-9pm (continues first Friday of the month through October). $15-20. Dancers and musicians improvise together at performances and workshops.
"Everyone Intimate Alone Visibly" Z Space at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida; www.levydance.org. Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Fri, 10pm). $20-25. LEVYdance presents its 2010 San Francisco home season.
"The Good Dance dakar/brooklyn" Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Novellus Theater, 700 Howard; 978-ARTS, www.ybca.org. Thurs-Sat, 8pm, $30. This work is a collaboration between Brooklyn choreographer Reggie Wilson and Congolese choreographer Andreya Ouamba.
"Home Is That Way? And New Rituals for a Dangerous Era" CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission; 1-800-838-3006, www.counterpulse.org. Thurs-Sun, 8pm. $15-20. José Navarrete, Violeta Luna, and Kendra Kimbrough Barnes perform new works.
"Monday Night ForePlays" Studio 250 at Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission; www.pianofight.com. Mon, 8pm. Through April 26. $20. PianoFight presents this night of original sketches, dance numbers, and music, performed by an all-female troupe.
"New Tales of Mystery and Imagination" Dark Room, 2263 Mission; 401-7987, www.darkroomsf.com. Sat, 10pm. $8. Absurdist writer-performer Dan Carbone performs an evening of new works.
"The Romaine Event" Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St; 647-2888, www.pacoromane.com. Wed, 7:30pm. $7. Paco Romaine hosts a night of comedians, including Will Franken, Brendan Lynch, and more.
"ShortLived 3.0" Studio250 at Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission; www.pianofight.com. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through June 26. $20. PianoFight presents this audience-judged playwriting competition.
Tilted Frame Network Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission; www.combindedartform.com. Thurs, 8pm. Through May 13. $20. Through the magic of the internet, improv troupes from LA and SF perform together.
"Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam Grand Slam Finals" Warfield, 982 Market; www.youthspeaks.org. Sat, 7pm. $6-18. Teen poets compete.