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 email@example.com.
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Giant Bones Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy; (650) 728-8098, www.brownpapertickets.com. $15-50. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through June 19. Fantasy author Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn) penned the source material for Stuart Bousel’s world-premiere play.
In the Wake Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org. $13.50-71. Previews Fri/14-Sat/15 and Tues/18, 8pm; Sun/16, 7pm. Opens May 19, 8pm. Runs Tues and Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Thurs and Sat, 2pm; no matinees May 20, 29, June 3, 12, or 17; no show June 25); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through June 27. Berkeley Rep and Center Theatre Group perform Lisa Kron and Leigh Silverman's drama about a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown after she begins to question her faith in country, relationships, and herself.
An Apology for the Course and Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by Doctor John Faustus on This His Final Evening Garage, 975 Howard; 585-1221, http://pustheatre.com. $15. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through May 22. This new, relatively short play with the long title, presented by Performers Under Stress, struts and frets a wearying hour upon the stage as actor Scott Baker's haughty and high-strung Faust, knowing he is bound for hell at the end of the evening, pleads his case before the audience, shadowed all the while by a speechless but expressive Mephistopheles (played with sly showmanship and moody animal intelligence by Valerie Fachman). The case at hand revolves around a masterwork of nonsense over which Faust (its composer) and the devil compete: a set of journals filled entirely with hatch marks. Why exactly is difficult to understand for more than one reason, not the least being the tedium of the monologue itself, which is only temporarily relieved by the arrival of some cheap canned beer. Free brew aside, there's little merit in playwright Mickle Maher's self-conscious rambling, which more than anything chases its own tale — running in semantic circles without progressing anywhere or landing a bite. (Avila)
Andy Warhol: Good For the Jews? Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida; 292-1233, www.tjt-sf.org. $15-45. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through June 20. Renowned monologist Josh Kornbluth is ready to admit his niche is a narrow one: he talks about himself, and more than that, he talks about his relationship to his beloved late father, the larger-than-life old-guard communist of Kornbluth's breakthrough Red Diaper Baby. So it will not be surprising that in his current (and still evolving) work, created with director David Dower, the performer-playwright's attempt to "enter" Warhol's controversial ten portraits of famous 20th-century Jews (neatly illuminated at the back of the stage) stirs up memories of his father, along with a close family friend — an erudite bachelor and closeted homosexual who impressed the boyhood Josh with bedtime stories culled from his dissertation. The scenes in which Kornbluth recreates these childhood memories are among the show's most effective, although throughout the narrative Kornbluth, never more confident in his capacities, remains a knowing charmer. But the story's central conceit, concerning his ambivalence over presenting a showing of "Warhol's Jews" at San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum, feels somehow artificial. It's almost a stylized rendition of the secular-Jewish moral quandary and neurotic obsession driving Kornbluth works of the past — or in other words, all surface, not unlike the work of another shock-haired artist, but less meaningfully so. (Avila)
The Diary of Anne Frank Next Stage, 1620 Gough; 1-800-838-3006, www.custommade.org. $10-28. Thurs/13-Sat/14 8pm; Sun/15, 7pm. 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 May 26. Off-Market Theaters presents stand up comic and solo artist Alicia Dattner in her award-winning solo show.
Echo's Reach Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St; 665-2275, www.citycircus.org. $14-35. Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 4pm); Sun, 4pm. Through May 30. City Circus premieres an urban fairytale by Tim Barsky.
Fishing Shotwell Studios, 3252 19th St; www.fishingtheplay.com. $25. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through May 29. David Duman's new play satirizes foodie culture.
Geezer Marsh MainStage, 1062 Valencia; 1-800-838-3006, www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm (Sun/9 show at 8pm). Through May 23. Geoff Hoyle presents a workshop performance of his new solo show about aging.
*Pearls Over Shanghai Hypnodrome, 575 Tenth St.; 1-800-838-3006, www.thrillpeddlers.com. $30-69. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through June 26. Starting July 10, runs Sat, 8pm and Sun, 7pm. Through August 1. Thrillpeddlers presents this revival of the legendary Cockettes' 1970 musical extravaganza.
Peter Pan Threesixty Theater, Ferry Park (on Embarcadero across from the Ferry Bldg); www.peterpantheshow.com. $30-125. Tues and Thurs, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 7:30pm (also Sat, 2pm); Wed, 2pm; Sun, 1 and 5pm. Through August 29. JM Barrie's tale is performed in a specially-built 360-degree CGI theater.
The Real Americans The Marsh, 1062 Valencia; 826-5750, www.themarsh.org. $18-50. Wed-Thurs and May 28, 8pm; Sat, 5pm; Sun, 3pm. Through May 30. Starting July 8, runs Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm; Sun, 3pm, through Aug 8. The Marsh presents the world premiere of Dan Hoyle's new solo show.
*Round and Round the Garden American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary; 749-2228, www.act-sf.org. $10-82. Tues-Sat, 8pm (also Wed and Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through May 23. American Conservatory Theater offers a canny and contagious production of Alan Ayckbourn's 1973 sex farce, one of the gems in the British playwright's well-loved trilogy, "The Norman Conquests," which variously lands on the same group of related characters — centered on the loveable and lovelorn reprobate Norman (a charmingly unstrung Manoel Felciano) — during the course of a single weekend spent in giddy, desperate, troubled infidelities. "Round and Round the Garden" takes place behind the ivy-covered walls of the house where the weekend unfolds, in the titular garden, as Tom (Dan Hiatt) and Annie (Delia MacDougall) meet in uncomfortable tension and bland civility, soon followed by Norman, Annie's brother and Norman's brother-in-law Reg (Anthony Fusco), Reg's wife Sarah (Marcia Pizzo), and Norman's own far-from-clueless wife Ruth (René Augesen). Stirring up these convoluted relationships is Norman's fervent desire to seduce one or better yet both of his sisters-in-law, but plot details are really secondary to the chaotic spirit of the dance, not to mention the wonderful ensemble work underway. Director John Rando and a razor-sharp cast deliver a very entertaining evening effortlessly evoking the wandering, convention-flouting — but also still awkwardly conventional — 1970s, as seemingly sophisticated characters prowl (in some cases on all fours) amid the verdant Viagra of scenic designer Ralph Funicello's magnificent backyard habitat. (Avila)
Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack Show Marines' Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter; 771-6900. $30-89. Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through May 23. Starting May 28, runs Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through June 27. From somewhere before the Beatles and after Broadway "Beatlemania" comes this big band cigarettes-and-high-ball nightclub act, recreating the storied Vegas stage shenanigans of iconic actor-crooners Frank Sinatra (David DeCosta), Dean Martin (Tony Basile), and Sammy Davis Jr. (Doug Starks), and sidekick comedian Joey Bishop (Sandy Hackett). The excuse, if one were needed, is that god (voiced in mealy nasal slang by Buddy Hackett, appropriately enough) has deemed a Rat Pack encore of supreme importance to the continued unfurling of his inscrutable plan, and thus unto us a floorshow is given. The band is all-pro and the songs sound great — DeCosta's singing as Sinatra is uncanny, but all do very presentable renditions of signature songs and standards. Meanwhile, a lot of mincing about the stage and the drink cart meets with more mixed success, and I don't just mean scotch and soda. The Rat Pack is pre-PC, of course, but the off-color humor, while no doubt historically sound, can be dully moronic — and the time-warp didn't prevent someone in opening night's audience from laying into Hackett's opening monologue for a glib reference to suicide. Though talk about killing: thanks to the heckler, the actor — son to Buddy and the show's co-producer (alongside chanteuse Lisa Dawn Miller, who sings a cameo as Frank's "One Love") — got more life out of that joke over the rest of the evening than any other bit. (Avila)
Speed the Plow Royce Gallery, 2910 Mariposa; 1-866-811-4111, www.speedtheplowsf.com. $28. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through June 19. Expression Productions performs David Mamet's black comedy.
Tartuffe Studio 205 at Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission; 377-5882, http://generationtheatre.com. $20-25. Fri/14-Sat/15, 8pm; Sun/16, 3pm. Generation Theatre performs a new English translation of Molière's classic, in Alexandrine verse.
Tell It Slant Southside Theater, Fort Mason Center, Bldg D, Marina at Laguna; www.tixbayarea.com. $20-40. Fri/14-Sat/15, 8pm; Sun/16, 2pm. BootStrap Foundation presents Sharmon J. Hilfinger and Joan McMillen's musical about Emily Dickinson.
Very Warm for May Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson; 255-8207. $38-44. Wed, 7pm; Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm; Sun, 3pm. Through May 24. 42nd Street Moon kicks off their Jerome Kern Celebration with this Oscar Hammerstein II script that features Kern's final Broadway score.
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.
Girlfriend Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org. $27-71. Wed/12, 7pm; Thurs/13-Sat/15, 8pm (also Sat/15, 2pm); Sun/16, 2 and 7pm. If you like Matthew Sweet's songs you'll probably like the spirited renditions in this new boy-meets-boy musical, which borrows its title from Sweet's famous 1991 album. The songs, backed by a solid band in a recessed fake-wood-paneled den at the back of the stage, underscore the fraught but exhilarating emotional bond between two Nebraska teens at the end of their high school careers and the cusp of an anxious, ambiguous independence. The performances and chemistry generated by actors Ryder Bach and Jason Hite under Les Waters' sharp direction are marvelous, delivering perfectly the inherent honesty and feeling in Todd Almond's book, while Joe Goode's beautifully understated choreography adds a fresh, youthful insouciance to the staging. But the story is a small one, not just a small town story, and its short, predictable arc makes for a slackness not altogether compensated for by the evocative tension between the lovers. (Avila)
Oliver! Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College, Berk; www.berkeleyplayhouse.org. $24-33. Fri/14, 7:30pm; Sat/15, 2 and 7pm; Sun/16, 1 and 6pm. Berkeley Playhouse performs the Dickens-based musical.
Terroristka Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; (415) 891-7235, www.brownpapertickets.com. $12-20. Thurs/13-Sat/15, 8pm; Sun/16, 5pm. Threshold: Theatre on the Verge performs Rebecca Bella's drama, based on the true story of a Chechen woman trained as a suicide bomber.
Twelfth Night La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; www.impacttheatre.com. $10-20. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through June 12. You've got to hand it to Impact Theatre: they make reimagining Shakespeare look so darned easy. To set a crass comedy about class, obsession, and mistaken identity at "Illyria Studios" in the heart of tawdry Tinseltown seems like such an obvious take, you wonder why it took someone so long to get around to doing it. True, the execution is not as vivacious as last year's A Midsummer Night's Dream; there's a lot of static standing around, particularly in the thus-rendered anti-climactic final act, and maybe a touch too much reliance on the karaoke machine prop (which is featured at its best during a stirring rendition of "Alone" courtesy of Cindy Im as Feste). But overall, the enthusiastic cast and timeless humor win the night. Especially strong comic performances are delivered by Valerie Weak and Jai Sahai as the troublesome twosome Toby Belch and Andrew Aguecheek while Seth Thygesen as Orsino maintains his now-familiar, yet thoroughly believable persona of oblivious yet jocular playboy. But it is Maria Giere as the cross-dressing, love-smitten Viola who displays the most range — from her ballsy attempts to fully inhabit her disguise as the page Cesario to her cringing attempts to have her beloved Orsino see through it. (Gluckstern)
What Just Happened? Cabaret at the Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; 1-800-838-3006, www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Fri, 9pm; Sat, 8pm. Through May 27. Nina Wise's show, an improvised work based on personal and political recent events, extends and re-opens at a new venue.
The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 826-5750, www.themarsh.org. $10-50. Sun, 11am. Through June 27. The Amazing Bubble Man, a.k.a. Louis Pearl, performs his family-friendly show.
"Dis-Oriented" Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission; www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri, 8pm. $15-20. A trio of Asian American women (Zahra Noorbakhsh, Collenn "Coke" Nakamoto, and Thao P. Nguyen) performs solo works.
"Raw and Uncut Choreography Showcase" Garage, 975 Howard, SF; 518-1517, www.975howard.com. Tues, 8pm. $10-20. With guest choreographer Josh Beamish, plus locals Christine Cali, Andi Clegg, Shaunna Vella, and more.
*Smuin Ballet Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Howard; 978-ARTS, www.smuinballet.org. Fri-Sat, and May 11-14, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm (also Sun/9, 7pm). Through May 16. $18-56. Smuin is gone, but under the leadership of Celia Fushille, the company has not yet strayed very far from his heritage. The rep is still heavy on the fast and the fun; audiences and dancers alike enjoy it. Fushille's big addition — and it's a good one — is Jiry Kylian's Petite Mort, a marvelous piece of fluff with rolling hoop skirts and twirling foils, set to sublime Mozart. Since the name "little death" also refers to the result of what people do in private, you can read your own metaphor into it. Chinese-American Ma Cong's French Twist is a hilarious dancing machine run at top speed. Tough to do, well done. Smuin's Songs of Mahler opens a program that is balanced, fresh, and easy on the eyes. (Felciano)
"Super Hero Movies and Recycled Grooves" de Young Museum's Koret Auditorium, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, Golden Gate Park; 750-3600, www.stagewrite.org. Fri, 6:30pm; May 21, 11am. Free. Fifth graders (from Starr King Elementary) penned the plays, inspired by de Young artwork; professional actors (from StageWrite) perform them.