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

Divalicious New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972, www.nctsf.org. $22-28. Previews Thurs/4, 8pm. Opens Sat/7, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8 p.m.; Sun, 2pm. Through August 22. Leanne Borghesi takes on the music of legends ranging from Garland to Midler.

Sex Tapes for Seniors Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th; (800) 838-3006. $20-40. Previews Thurs/5, 8pm. Opens Fri/6, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through August 22. An original musical by Mario Cossa, with a cast of characters between the ages of 52 and 75.

Show and Tell Thick House, 1695 18th St; (800) 838-3006, www.symmetrytheatre.com. Opens Fri/6, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat/7, 5:30pm); Sun, 5:30 pm. Through August 22. $25. Symmetry Theatre Company presents a play by Anthony Clarvoe.

This is All I Need NOHspace, 2840 Mariposa; www.mugwumpin.org. Previews Fri/6 and Sun/8, 8pm. Opens Mon/9, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sun, 8pm. $15-20. The kinetic company Mugwumpin presents a new show.

This World and After Phoenix Theater, 414 Mason; 913-7272, www.sleepwalkerstheatre.com. Previews Fri/5-Sat/6, 8pm. Opens Sat/7, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through August 28. $18-24. Sleepwalkers Theatre presents a trilogy of plays by J.C. Lee.

BAY AREA

The Norman Conquests The Ashby Stage, 901 Ashby, Berk; (510) 841-6500, www.shotgunplayers.com. $20-25. Opens Fri/6. Through Sept. 5. Dates and times vary. Shotgun Players presents Alan Ayckbourn's comic trilogy.

ONGOING

Abigail: The Salem Witch Trials Temple SF, 540 Howard; www.templesf.com. $10. Thurs/5, Aug 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.

Agnes the Barbarian EXIT Theatre, 156 Eddy; 289-6766, www.thunderbirdtheatre.com. $20-25. Thurs-Sun, 8pm. Through August 14. Thunderbird Theatre Company presents a new comedy by Lusty Booty author Jason Harding.

*Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Boxcar Playhouse, 505 Natoma; 776-1747, www.boxcartheatre.org. $26-38. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through Sept. 4. Boxcar Theatre begins an ambitious three-play repertory salute to Tennessee Williams with this swift, lean and thoughtful production of the 1955 Pulitzer Prize–winning family drama set on the embattled Mississippi estate of Big Daddy Pollitt (Michael Moerman) on the evening of his 65th (and final) birthday. The play's action unfolds inside the fraught bedroom of favored son and former star athlete Brick (Peter Matthews)—a depressed and repressed alcoholic, literally and symbolically hobbled by a fresh fall on the track field the night before—and his frustrated but determined wife, Maggie "the Cat" (Lauren Doucette), the play's irrepressible life force and gleaming wit who will get her man back and fend off a property-grab from her conniving in-laws (Brian Jansen and Hannah Knapp) to boot. Boxcar artistic director Matthews' Brick is an apt tangle of glassy-eyed testiness, haunted moroseness, and grudging respect and compassion. He shares viable chemistry with Doucette, who ably summons an intelligent vitality and frank sensuality in the central role. Director Jeffrey Hoffman gets enjoyable performances all around—Moerman's tyrannical yet concerned, vulnerable Big Daddy is especially fine—and his staging, set in the round in knee- and should-rubbing proximity to the audience, invites a rare sense of intimacy. This is further heightened, if only minimally, by his use of an actor (Seth Thygesen) as the palpable presence of Brick's grief, in the form of dead friend and closeted love, Skipper. (Avila)

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.

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 Sat/ 7. Naomi Emmerson's solo performance as the iconic French diva is expertly crafted and fully committed, and as such makes just worthwhile Roger Peace's otherwise pedestrian musical stagger down memory lane with the lovelorn, increasingly drug addled and generally tragic (if also spunky) heroine of postwar French culture. Amid the chronological recap of Édith Piaf's storied career, aficionados in particular should be pleased with Emmerson's evocative presence, including a confident tremolo voice and cool élan, which holds its own against Marion Cotillard's turn in La Vie En Rose. (Avila)

*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. Through 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. (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.

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 Sun/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.

Blithe Spirit Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 649-5999, www.aeofberkely.org. $12-15. Fri-Sat, 8pm; also August 19, 8pm. Through August 21. Actors Ensemble of Berkeley essays the eternal Noel Coward comedy, about a (naturally) Coward-esque writer (Stanley Spenger) who for the purposes of research and any passing amusement it may provide invites over a celebrated medium (an amusingly puffed-up Chris Macomber), only to have her inadvertently summon the ghost of his ex-wife (Erin J. Hoffman), who mischievously begins to drive a wedge between him and his new wife (Shannon Veon Kase). Director Hector Correa's not-always-fitting casting choices contribute to a drearily perfunctory tone at the outset, which makes the first scenes somewhat painful going. However, Spenger proves admirably dry and restrained in the lead, and things pick up measurably with the arrival of the titular ghost, played with playful, bounding energy and notable grace by Hoffman. (Avila)

*Machiavelli's The Prince Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; (510) 558-1381, www.centrailworks.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

"AfroSolo Arts Festival" Yerba Buena Gardens, 701 Mission; (415) 771-AFRO, www.afrosolo.org. Sun/8, 5:30pm. The festival continues with a performance by the Junius Courtney Big Band Orchestra.

BAY AREA

"New Works Festival" Lucie Stern Theatre, 1355 Middlefield, Palo Alto; (650) 463-1960, www.theatreworks.org. Through August 22. $15-25 ($75 for festival pass). TheatreWorks presents its ninth annual festival, with a reading of Great Wall by Kevin Merritt and Kevin So.