Stage listings

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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 listings@sfbg.com.

THEATER

OPENING

BAY AREA

 

Blithe Spirit Live Oak Thatre, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 649-5999, www.aeofberkeley.org. $12-15. Opens Fri/13, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm; also August 19, 8pm. Through August 21. Actors Ensemble of Berkeley presents the Noel Coward play, directed by Hector Correa.

ONGOING

Abigail: The Salem Witch Trials Temple SF, 540 Howard; www.templesf.com. $10. July 29, Aug 5, 12, 19, 26, 9pm. Through Aug 26. Buzz Productions, with Skycastle Music and Lunar Eclipse Records, presents an original rock opera based on the Salem witch trials.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Actors Theatre, 855 Bush; 345-1287, www.actorstheatresf.org. $26-38. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through Sept. 4. Actors Theatre presents Tennessee Williams' sultry, sweltering tale of a Mississippi family, directed by Keith Phillips.

Cindy Goldfield & Scrumbly Koldewyn in Cowardly Things New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972, www.nctsf.org. $20-28. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through July 31. Cindy Goldfield and Scrumbly Koldewyn in a tribute to Noel Coward.

Dead Certain Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa; (866) 811-4111. $12-28. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through August 14. Expression Productions presents a psychological thriller by Marcus Lloyd..

Gilligan's Island: Live on Stage! The Garage, 975 Howard; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $15-20. Sun, 8pm. Through August 29. Moore Theatre and SAFEhouse for the Performing Arts brings the TV show to the stage, lovey.

How the Other Half Loves Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason; (800) 838-3006, www.offbroadwaywest.org. $35, Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through July 31. In Alan Ayckbourn's 1971 comedy, a night of infidelity propels two colliding couples into menacing a third, a pair of innocents unwittingly drawn into the whole affair as alibis. The collisions are made all the more kinetic by the fact that Ayckbourn cheekily drops the two principal couples into overlapping living rooms, where they continually brush by each other in ironic obliviousness. At the outset of this droll two-act, Fiona Foster (a smart, cucumber-cool Sylvia Kratins) has just slept with Bob Phillips (a brilliantly sourpussed James Darbyshire), junior colleague of her husband Frank (Jeff Garrett, exuding the animated splendor of the full-on English twit), on the night of the couple's wedding anniversary (pure coincidence for the forgetful, loveless Fiona). In loose coordination with lover Bob, Fiona explains her late night absence with reference to a pair of vague acquaintances, the Featherstones (Jocelyn Stringer and Adam D. Simpson). Bob does the same with Teresa (a spunky Corinne Proctor), his homebound wife and a new, deeply disgruntled young mother. Naturally, back-to-back dinner parties with said alibis ensue, much to the horror and chagrin of the adulterers. Off Broadway West Theatre Company's production, smoothly helmed by Richard Harder, makes the most of the complex staging as both time and space collapse over intersecting dining tables. If the play is slow to catch fire, it reaches a nice sustained peak that proves worth the going. Shaky accents from Garrett and especially Simpson can distract at times, but Harder's cast is generally solid and engaging, with particularly enjoyable work from Darbyshire and Proctor as the volatile younger Phillips with their crass bickering, canned erotic energy, and barely countenanced off-stage baby. (Avila)

The 91 Owl African American Arts Cultural Complex, 762 Fulton; 574-8908, www.brownpapertickets.com. $10-25. Nightly, 8pm. Through Thurs/22. A production of Bernard Norris's play about the life of a San Francisco bus stop.

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.

Piaf: Love Conquers All Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $25-36. Tues-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 2 and 8pm. Through August 7. Tone Poet Productions brings a portrait of Edith Piaf to the stage.

*Posibilidad, or Death of the Worker Dolores Park and other sites; 285-1717, www.sfmt.org. Free. Sat-Sun, 2pm; also Sept 6, 2pm; Sept 17, 8pm. Througb Sept 17. It may have been just a coincidence, but it certainly seems auspicious that the San Francisco Mime Troupe, itself collectively run since the 1970's, would preview their latest show Posibilidad on the United Nations International Day of Cooperatives. The show, which centers around the struggles of the last remaining workers in a hemp clothing factory ("Peaceweavers"), hones in on the ideological divide between business conducted as usual, and the impulse to create a different system. Taking a clip from the Ari Lewis/Naomi Klein documentary The Take, half of the play is set in Argentina, where textile-worker Sophia (Lisa Hori-Garcia) becomes involved in a factory takeover for the first time. Her past experiences help inform her new co-workers' sitdown strike and takeover of their own factory after they are told it will close by their impossibly fey, new age boss Ernesto (Rotimi Agbabiaka). You don't need professional co-op experience to find humor in the nascent collective's endless rounds of meetings, wince at their struggles against capitalistic indoctrination, or cheer the rousing message of "Esta es Nuestra Lucha" passionately sung by Velina Brown, though in another welcome coincidence, the run of Posibilidad also coincides with the National Worker Cooperative conference being held in August, so if you get extra inspired, you can always try to join forces there. (Nicole Gluckstern)

What Mama Said About Down There Our Little Theater, 287 Ellis; 820-3250, www.theatrebayarea.org. $15-25. Thurs-Sun, 8pm. Through August 28. Writer-performer-activist Sia Amma presents this largely political, a bit clinical, inherently sexual, and utterly unforgettable performance piece.

*when i die, i will be dead Mama Calizo's Voice Factory, 1519 Mission; (800) 838-3006, www.mcvf.org. $15-20. Thur-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/24. This sparkling pair of new dance-theater pieces from director-choreographer Alicia Ohs unexpectedly marks the final production at the Mission Street haunt of Mama Calizo's Voice Factory, which perforce closes its doors at the end of the month as a search for a new space continues. It's hard to imagine a more feisty, clever and poignant way to mark the otherwise somber milestone than this final Mission Street edition of MCVF's DIY residency (co-produced with Choyoh! Productions and THEOFFCENTER). The first piece, "New York, I Love You, I hate You . . . Now Dance!," unfurls and unravels a dance audition in the Big Apple with insight and incisive humor—cuttingly performed by a bold, charismatic cast that includes Ay.Lin, Hana Erdman, Harold Burns, and Jose Navarrete. It amounts to a singular and low-key–sensational tribute that puts the "us" back in chorus. The companion piece, "Dokuen" (Japanese for "solo"), is another surprise, a fresh and charming meditation on creativity, communication, and communion that cycles through a series of dynamic encounters between choreographer, dancers, and domestic, all on a tightrope walk between the concrete and the ineffable. Its sublime moments of imperfect quiet and stillness say it all, since even here there's so much going on—room yet to create and destroy. (Avila)

Young Frankenstein Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor; 551-2000, www.shnsf.com. $30-99. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm; also Wed/21, 2 and 8pm. Through Sun/25. For all its outlandish showmanship, Mel Brooks's other movie-turned-musical is not quite as grand a beast as The Producers. Still, the adventures of Victor Frankenstein's reputation-conscious grandson, Frederick Frankenstein—played with exceeding charm and surgeon-like skill by major cut-up Roger Bart, originator of the role on Broadway—remains a monster of a show, in more ways than one. The rapid-fire repartee, for starters, is scarily deft, the comic timing among a first-rate cast all but flawless (even when milking a line shamelessly), the fancy footwork (choreographed by director Susan Stroman) pretty fancy, and the mise en scène holds some attractive surprises as well. At the same time, and despite the fecund humor revolving around questions of size and virility, the show's actual two-and-a-half-hour length proves a bit wearying, especially as many of the best jokes (though by no means all) are the much-loved and universally much-repeated gags from the film. Moreover, Brooks's songs, while very able, rarely rise to memorable and sometimes feel perfunctory or a bit busy. One of the glorious exceptions is the blind hermit scene (played brilliantly by Brad Oscar), which combines the hilariously plaintive song "Please Send Me Someone" with a lovingly faithful rendition of the original spoof for a sequence that literally smokes. (Avila)

BAY AREA

Auctioning the Ainsleys Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield, Palo Alto; (650) 463-1960, www.theatreworks.org. Tues-Wed, 7:30pm; Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 2 and 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through August 8. TheatreWorks begins its 41st season with a world premiere of a play by Laura Schelhardt about a family putting their lives up for sale.

*East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Sat/24, July 31, 8pm; Sun/25, Aug 1, 7pm. Through August 1. Don Reed's solo play, making its Oakland debut after an acclaimed New York run, is truly a welcome homecoming twice over. (Avila)

*Machiavelli's The Prince Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; (510) 558-1381, www.centralworks.org. $14-25. Thurs-Sat, 8 p.m.; Sun, 5pm. Through August 22. Set in an intimate salon-space in the Berkeley City Club, this stage adaptation of one of the most famous documents on political power ever written gains a certain conversational quality. In fact, the script, penned by Gary Graves, is really just one long conversation—an imagined encounter between Nicolo Machiavelli and the man he dedicated his treatise to, Lorenzo de Medici II. Machiavelli (Mark Farrell) has been called by de Medici (Cole Alexander Smith)

to possibly regain favor in his court after a long banishment. With him he brings a notebook of his musings on gaining and retaining political power, which he bestows on Lorenzo for him to read. As the Duke of Florence, Smith plays his character with the measured dignity and watchful countenance of a career mobster. He protests the extremism of his former teacher's philosophy of rule even as he is casually seduced by its implications. Farrell's Machiavelli tries to play his position with calculated Mephistopheles cool. However, he cannot escape the obvious taint of his own failures, and eventually, for all his talk of power, he is revealed to be ultimately powerless, though his ideas remain with de Medici, long after he himself is let go. (Gluckstern)

The Taming of the Shrew Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, 1475 Grand, San Rafael; (415) 499-4488, www.marinshakespeare.org. $20-25. Fri-Sun, 8pm; also Sun, 4pm and 5pm. Through Sept. 26. Marin Theatre Company presents a swashbuckling version of the classic.

 

PERFORMANCE/DANCE

BATS Improv Theatre Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason Center, B350 Fort Mason; 474-6776, www.improv.org. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through July 31. Bay Area Theatresports presents an evening of theater and comedy.

The Bowls Project: Secrets of the Apocalyptic Intimate Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Sculpture Court, 701 Mission; 978-2787, www.ybca.org. Various times. Through August 22. Charming Hostess presents a series of performances in conjunction with an interactive sound sculpture.

Bridge Builders and Other Unconventional Women CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission; (800) 838-3006, www.counterpulse.org. Wed/21-Thurs/22, 7pm. $6-12. Flyaway Productions presents its Arts and Activism Apprenticeship performance by young women.

Litquake: Fool Brava Theater, 2781 24th St; 641-7657, www.litquake.org. Sat/24, 8pm. $22.50-25. Litquake presents a staged reading from the novel by Christopher Moore.

Liz Grant Variety Pack Comedy Show Purple Onion, 140 Columbus; 200-8781, www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri, 4:30pm. Through Sept 3. $10. A changing lineup of stand up comedy.

Porchlight 8th Anniversary Show Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa; 861-9199, www.verdiclub.net. Porchlight celebrates a birthday with stories from Adam Savage, Arisa White, Anthony Bedard, Kari Kieman, Scott Kravitz, Jawad Ali, and others.

Stand-up Comedy Showcase Bazaar Cafe, 5927 California; 831-5620, www.dannydechi.com. Wed/21, 7pm. Free. A showcase hosted by Danny Dechi.

Tadtarin Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St; 273-4633, www.enricolabayen.com. Fri/23-Sat/24, 8pm; Sun/25, 7pm. $25. The world premiere of a dance piece performed by Labayen Dance/SF.

BAY AREA

Hamlet: Blood in the Brain Bruns Amphitheater, Orinda; (510) 548-9666, wwwcalshakes.org. Mon/26, 7:30pm. California Shakespeare Theatre presents a one-time performance by students of Oakland technical High School.

Love Boat Capers RODA Theatre, 2025 Addison, Berk; www.gilchun.com. Sat/24, pm; Sun/25, 2pm. A dance play based on the TV series!