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.
Don't Ask New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972; www.nctcsf.org. $24-36. Opens Fri/13, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Sept. 19. New Conservatory Theatre Center presents the West Coast premiere of Bill Quigley's play about the affair between a Private and his superior.
Skin Tight CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission; www.counterpulse.org. $20 ($35 for gala opening). Opens Thurs/12, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through August 28. Rapid Descent Physical Performance Company presents the SF premiere of Gary Henderson's play.
Abigail: The Salem Witch Trials Temple SF, 540 Howard; www.templesf.com. $10. Thurs/12, August 19, 26, 9pm. Through August 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-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/14. Most parents get annoyed when their offspring show signs of coarsening, particularly during those awkward teenage years, but not Conan the Barbarian (Jason Harding), oh no. Quite to the contrary, Conan despairs over his teenage daughter's bookish ways and socialist inclinations, and determined to set her on the path to barbarismpartly out of fatherly pique and partly because his mind is being controlled by his evilly bureaucratic Grand Vizier (Dana Goldberg)he sends her on a hero's quest to kill the monstrous Gargranox (Cary Klataske). Clad in the requisite fur-and-chainmail bikini ensemble, young Agnes (Jaime Lee Currier) is aided on her journey by a pair of "Holy Grail"-styled peasants The Bastards (Jason Pienkowski and Mary Bishop), and the banished court magician Shitake (Tavis Kammet) plagued by the dread "curse of exposition". During her unwilling pursuit of her barbarian birthrightAgnes faces off with a 5,000 year-old sorceress, acquires an "enchanted sword", confronts a monster, avoids assassination, and rescues her father's kingdom from the dread influence of Gygax' 15-point takeover plan. Penned by Jason Harding, a core-member of the Thunderbirds for 10 years, and author of the ribald pirate farce "Lusty Booty," and directed by 6-year T-bird veteran Shay Casey. (Gluckstern)
*Streetcar Named Desire Boxcar Playhouse, 505 Natoma; 776-1747, www.boxcartheatre.org. $15-25. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through Sept. 4. It's no small feat, creating a sultry southern summer circa 1940's smack-dab in the middle of a typically frosty San Francisco summer circa right here right now, but Boxcar Theatre rises admirably to the challenge. Rebecca Longworth's creative staging of Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire" includes musical interludes, ghostly apparitions, and the clattering of a cleverly impersonated streetcar that shakes the walls of Matt McAdon's simply-detailed tenement flat and the spirits of one Blanche DuBois (Juliet Tanner), while the deliberately-muted lighting (Stephanie Buchner) and period-appropriate sound (Ted Crimy), add the appropriate layers of southern discomfort to the unfolding action. Especially captivating to watch are the performances of supporting characters Stella (Casi Maggio) and Mitch (Brian Jansen), who seem to almost helplessly orbit the hot flame of Stanley Kowalski's sun (Nick A. Olivero) and the grimly flickering satellite of Blanche's waning moon. As he does in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," Seth Thygesen stands in for one dearly-departed, in this case Blanche's old beau, Allan Gray, whose abrupt suicide de-magnetized her moral compass. And in addition to a saucy turn as next-door neighbor Eunice, Linnea George tracks the fractured emotions of the main characters on her mournful violin. (Nicole Gluckstern)
Dead Certain Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa; (866) 811-4111. $12-28. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/14. Expression Productions presents a psychological thriller by Marcus Lloyd..
Divalicious New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $22-28. Wed-Sat, 8 p.m.; Sun, 2pm. Through August 22. Leanne Borghesi takes on the music of legends ranging from Garland to Midler.
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.
*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)
Sex Tapes for Seniors Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th; (800) 838-3006. $20-40. 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. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; 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. Thurs-Sun, 8pm. Through Sept. 4. $15-20. The kinetic company Mugwumpin presents a new show.
This World Is Good Phoenix Theater, 414 Mason; 913-7272, www.sleepwalkerstheatre.com. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through August 28. $18-24. The 1990s are giving way to a millennial moment of anti-climax known as Y2K, but the anxiety and dread are real, and the bloodiest century in human history looks poised to be outdone by the doom-drones of the next. Making at least academic sense of all that angst is Ally (Dina Percia), a brilliant young Latina writing her doctoral dissertation on Grunge and its landscape of youth alienation. Her best friend and occasional lover is a smitten young English prof (Damian Lanahan-Kalish), a dork with a degree and the pet name Scrotum Face. But as she delves into the world of ideas, Ally loses track of her family: single mother Emmy (Tessa Koning-Martinez) and, more tragically, talented but emotionally tortured younger brother Sam (Shoresh Alaudini), whose battered mind and compassionate heart craft a graphic story around a new "super hero" with no costume, no parallel identity, and indeed no special powers. When her family collapses, Ally reassembles the pieces from a new vantage, outside the ivory tower, where she makes art from a sort of crystalline "ordinariness" that complements her brother's all-too-ordinary super hero. This World Is Good is the opening gambit in a new trilogy by local playwright J.C. Lee called This World and After, all being presented by Sleepwalkers Theatre this season. Artistic director Tore Ingersoll-Thorp helms a competently acted production, which helps lend Lee's ambitious scope its tangible human proportions, though in truth the characters do not always feel fully drawn. There's a fine monologue from Sam, both chilling and exhilarating, but also a proclivity throughout for awkwardly poetical speeches over dialogue. Still, there's subtlety and real humor in the best parts, and enough here to want to see more. (Avila)
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.
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)
*East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Dates and times vary. Through Sept 12. 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 conversationan 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 Norman Conquests The Ashby Stage, 901 Ashby, Berk; (510) 841-6500, www.shotgunplayers.com. $20-25. Dates and times vary. Through Sept. 5. Shotgun Players presents Alan Ayckbourn's comic trilogy.
The Pirates of Penzance Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro, Mountain View; 227-4797, www.lamplighters.org. $17-50. Sat/14, 8pm, Sun/15, 2pm. Lamplighters presents Gilbert and Sullivan's swashbuckling classic.
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.
Charlie Ballard Purple Onion, 140 Columbus; www.brownpapertickets.com. Wed/11, 8:30pm. $10. The gay comedian records a show for DVD at Phyllis Diller's old stomping grounds.
"Bare Bones Butoh Presents: Showcase 18" Studio 210, 3435 Cesar Chavez; 821-7124. Fri/13-Sat/14, 8pm. A pair of benefit performances for members of the butoh and performance art communities.
"City Solo" Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission; www.cafearts.com. Sun/15, 7pm. $15-20. Solo performances by Coke Nakamoto, Jawad Ali, Enzo Lombard, and Martha Rynberg.
Bobcat Goldthwait Cobb's Comedy Club, 915 Columbus; 928-4320; www.cobbscomedyclub.com. Fri/13-Sat/14, 8 and 10pm. $20.50. The comedian and director hits town.
"New Works Festival" Lucie Stern Theatre, 1355 Middlefield, Palo Alto; (650) 463-1960, www.theatreworks.org. Dates and times vary. Through August 22. $15-25 ($75 for festival pass). TheatreWorks presents its ninth annual festival, with Kevin Merritt and Kevin So's Great Wall, Jeff Hughes' Red Clay, and readings.