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. For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks. For complete listings, see www.sfbg.com.
Caligari Studio 385, 385A Eighth St; www.brownpapertickets.com. $10-30. Opens Thurs/18, 8pm. Runs Fri/19-Sat/20 and Dec 2-3 and 9-10, 8pm. Through Dec 10. HurLyBurLy performs an original adaptation of the 1920 silent film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
The Tender King Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason, Sixth Flr; www.secondwindtheatre.com. $20-25. Opens Fri/19, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Dec 11. Second Wind Productions presents Ian Walker's noir-tinged World War II drama.
Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Horse and Man White Big Top, adjacent to AT&T Park; www.cavalia.net. $39.50-239.50. Check website for shows and times. Through Dec 12. Over 100 performers, including 50 horses, take the stage in this circus-like show from Montreal.
Christian Cagigal's Obscura: A Magic Show EXIT Cafe, 156 Eddy; 1-800-838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $15-25. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 18. Magician Christian Cagigal presents a mix of magic, fairy tales, and dark fables.
Comedy Ballet Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy; 1-800-838-3006, www.brownpapetickets.com. $10-20. Thurs/18-Sat/20, 8pm. Dark Porch Theatre's latest (a reworked version of the piece it premiered at the Garage in July) is a fractured meta-theatrical tale about death. Not to put too fine a point on it, writer-director Martin Schwartz approaches the subject with what you might call deliberate absurdity, basking in whimsical inspiration with serious intent. Roxelana (a compellingly earnest Molly Benson) pursues an affair with the confident but completely in-over-his-head KC (Brandon Wiley), the handsome young employee of her husband (Scott Ragle), who goes tellingly by the moniker Baby Death God. Her three vaguely psychotic neighbors, meanwhile, known as The Intrepid Gentlemen (the amusingly anarchic trio of Natalie Koski-Karell, Bernard Norris, Matthew Von MeeZee), invite her to the wake for their dead dog, over whom they are unnaturally bereft. Between scenes an interviewer (Rachel Maize) queries members of the cast on a variety of subjects, including attitudes toward human sacrifice. (The actors feign indignation at the idea.) It all gradually comes to make some kind of sense, but letting go the effort to make any sense of it helps in the appreciation. Smoothing the way are likeable performances, not least Nathan Tucker's wonderfully controlled hyperbole in the part of consummate thespian Foreplay. Integral and pleasingly unexpected passages of movement (choreographed by producer Margery Fairchild), as well as a permeating spirit of morbid fancy, further contribute to an intentionally jagged work that may be difficult to define but not hard to enjoy. (Avila)
*Equus Boxcar Theatre Playhouse, 505 Natoma; 776-1747, www.boxcartheatre.org. $10-25. Wed/17-Sat/20, 8pm. In the last year, it seems like there's been more full-frontal nudity in Bay Area theatre than in the preceding ten years combined. One certainly hopes it's not due to the economy. Of course, nudity isn't the only reason you should go and see Boxcar Theatre's Equus—but its presence is indicative of the overall bravery of the production. Minutely updated and Americanized by director Erin
Gilley, the tale of a troubled teen who mutilates a stable of horses without apparent provocation seems disconcertingly as plausible as when it first debuted in 1973. The uncomfortable parental dynamics as enacted by Laura Jane Bailey and Jeff Garret, the dogged pedantry of Michael Shipley's Dysart, a man measuring out his desperation not with teaspoons but with tomes of Doric architecture. Most especially, rivaling the single-minded intensity of child crusaders, teenage suicide bombers, and accidental martyrs, 18-year-old Bobby Conte Thornton's unflinching portrayal of Alan Stang ably taps into the extremist
impulses of adolescence. "Extremity," Shipley reminds us, "is the point", and it's exactly what Thornton delivers, from his nervous misdirections, to the ferocious abandon of his midnight rituals. Artistic Director Nick a. Olivero's skills as a set designer are suitably showcased by a convincingly stable-like thrust of rough planks and second story "loft" seating, while Krista Smith's lighting subtly adds texture and depth. (Gluckstern)
*Hamlet Alcatraz Island; 547-0189, www.weplayers.org. By donation. Sat/20-Sun/21, times vary. Outside of an actual castle, it would hard to say what could serve as a more appropriate stand-in for Kronborg castle of Helsingør—also known as Elsinore—than the isolated fortress of Alcatraz Island, where WE Players are presenting Hamlet in all its tragic majesty. As audience members tramp along
stony paths and through prison corridors from one scene to the next, the brooding tension the site alone creates is palpable, and the very walls impart a sense of character, as opposed to window-dressing. Deftly leaping around rubble and rock, a hardy troupe of thespians and musicians execute the three-hour
production with neat precision, guiding the audience to parts of the island and prison edifice that aren't usually part of the standard Alcatraz tour package. Incorporating movement, mime, live music, and carefully-engineered use of space, the Players turn Alcatraz into Denmark, as their physical bodies meld into Alcatraz. Casting actress Andrus Nichols as the discontent prince of Denmark is an incongruity that works, her passions' sharp as her swordplay, the close-knit family unit of Laertes, Ophelia, and Polonius are emphatically human (Benjamin Stowe, Misti Boettiger, Jack Halton), and Scott D. Phillips plays the
appropriately militaristic and ego-driven Claudius with a cold steel edge. (Gluckstern)
It's All the Rage The Marsh, 1062 Valencia; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $20-50. Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Dec 5. The Marsh presents a new solo show by Marilyn Pittman.
Marcus, or the Secret of Sweet American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary; 749-2228, www.act-sf.org. $22-82. Call for dates and times. Through Sun/21. American Conservatory Theater presents its contribution to the three-theater Bay Area debut of Tarell Alvin McCraney's Brother/Sister Plays , completing the young African American playwright's much-touted but generally underwhelming trilogy with a coming-of-age story about a gay 16-year-old (a sharp and likeable Richard Prioleau) in a small black community of the Louisiana bayou. A recurring dream haunts the still-closeted Marcus, while the man in it, the long-gone Oshoosi Size (a vital Tobie L. Windham), stalks the stage with an ominous-sounding message for his older brother, Ogun (played with listless, gathering despair by Gregory Wallace). But the action unfolding against Alexander V. Nichols' gorgeously moody, shape-shifting backdrop (a video-based evocation of land, sky and built environment) has only a perfunctory urgency to it. The play, smoothly directed for maximum laughs by Mark Rucker, is more inclined toward amiable scenes of tentative concern by all (including three key female characters played brilliantly by Margo Hall), Marcus's sexual initiation by a visitor from the Bronx (Windham), or the fraught but whimsical camaraderie between Marcus and childhood friends Osha (Shinelle Azoroh) and Shaunta (Omozé Idehenre). Last-minute intimations of Katrina, meanwhile, come as arbitrary and less than powerful. "Sweet" is the sexually knowing, ambiguous term attaching to Marcus—whom all seem to already know and more or less accept as gay—but it's also a too apt description for this well-acted but overblown and forgettable play. (Avila)
Match Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa; 1-866-811-4111, www.matchonstage.com. $12-28. Thurs-Sun, 8pm. Through Dec 18. Expression Productions presents Stephen Belber's new suspense drama.
Ménage-À-Plot: A Surf-N-Turf Adventure Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission; www.pianofight.com. $20. Thurs/18-Sat/20, 8pm. PianoFight presents three separate one-act comedies.
Murder for Two: A Killer Musical Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson; 255-8207, www.42ndstmoon.org. Wed/17, 7pm; Thurs/18-Fri/19, 8pm, Sat/20, 6pm, Sun/21, 3pm. 42nd Street Moon presents a mix of Agatha Christie and musical comedy, by Kellen Blair and Joe Kinosian.
Or, Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna; 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org. $20-60. Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2:30pm); Sun, 2:30pm; Tues, 7pm. Through Dec 5. Magic Theatre performs Liz Duffy Adams' latest, inspired by pioneering playwright Aphra Behn.
*Pearls Over Shanghai Thrillpeddlers' Hypnodrome, 575 Tenth St; 1-800-838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $30-69. Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 19. Thrillpeddlers' acclaimed production of the Cockettes musical continues its successful run.
A Perfect Ganesh New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $22-40. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Dec 19. New Conservatory Theatre Center presents the Terrence McNally play, directed by Arturo Catricala.
Shocktoberfest!! 2010: Kiss of Blood Hypnodrome Theatre, 575 Tenth St; 1-800-838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $25-35. Thurs/18-Fri/19, 8pm. Thrillpeddlers' seasonal slice of eyeball is comprised of three playlets variously splattered with platelets, all directed by Russell Blackwood and bridged by a rousing burst of bawdy song from the full cast. Rob Keefe's Lips of the Damned (after La Veuve by Eugene Heros and Leon Abric) takes place in a rat-infested museum of atrocities just before the fumigating starts, as an adulterous couple—comprised of a kinky married lady (a vivacious Kara Emry) and a naïve hunk from the loading dock (Daniel Bakken)—get their kicks around the guillotine display, and their comeuppance from the jilted proprietor (Flynn DeMarco). Keefe's delightfully off-the-wall if also somewhat off-kilter Empress of Colma posits three druggy queens in grandma's basement, where they practice and primp for their chance at drag greatness, and where newly crowned Crystal (a gloriously beaming Blackwood) lords it over resentful and suspicious first-runner-up Patty Himst (Eric Tyson Wertz) and obliviously cheerful, non-sequiturial Sunny (Birdie-Bob Watt). When fag hag Marcie (Emry) arrives with a little sodium pentothal snatched from dental school, the truth will out every tiny closeted secret, and at least one big hairy one. Kiss of Blood, the 1929 Grand Guignol classic, wraps things up with botched brain surgery and a nicely mysterious tale of a haunted and agonized man (Wertz) desperate to have Paris's preeminent surgeon (DeMarco) cut off the seemingly normal finger driving him into paroxysms of pain and panic. Well-acted in the preposterously melodramatic style of the gory genre, the play (among one or two other things) comes off in a most satisfying fashion. (Avila)
Susie Butler Sings the Sarah Vaughan Songbook Exit Theater Cafe, 156 Eddy; (510) 860-0997, www.brownpapertickets.com. $15-20. Sat/20, 8:30pm. Local actress and singer Susie Butler takes on the Sassy songbook.
A Tale of Two Genres SF Playhouse, Stage Two, 533 Sutter; www.un-scripted.com. $10-20. Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm; no shows Sat/20, Thurs/25; additional shows Dec 20-23). Through Dec 23. Un-Scripted Theater Company performs an improvised musical in the style of Charles Dickens.
The Tempest Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor; 1-800-838-3006, www.cuttingball.com. $15-20. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm (no show Nov 25). Through Nov 28. In Cutting Ball's latest foray into Shakespearean realms, three entangled subplots and eleven characters are enacted by just three actors, in order to explore the relationships between the principle characters by representing their internal characteristics through the actions of the more minor roles. Set on an enchanted island (or, in Cutting Ball's interpretation, at the bottom of a swimming pool) The Tempest begins with stormy weather, but quickly grows into a full-blown hurricane of shipwrecked nobles, nymphs, and drunks, plus the turbulent awakenings of a teenage daughter's libido, and the rumblings of her over-protective papa. The most effective dual-character is Caitlyn Louchard's Miranda-Ariel, as both characters are quite under the stern control of Prospero (David Sinaiko) and equally deserving of release. Less affecting yet somehow equally congruous is Sinaiko's comic turn as the buffoonish Stephano, who stumbles through the forest in his boxer shorts, yet somehow maintains an air of mock dignity that does parallel Prospero's. Donell Hill's Caliban-Ferdinand endures his lust-love for Miranda and servitude to Prospero alternating between raw physicality and social ineptness. But since "The Tempest" is littered with characters even more minor, the game cast is stretched too thinly to fully inhabit each, and the entire subplot involving King Alonzo, Gonzalo, and Antonio in particular suffers from this ambitious over-extension. (Gluckstern)
*West Side Story Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market; www.orpheum-theater.com. $88-378. Check website for dates and times. Through Nov 28. Opening night of the touring Broadway revival coincided with game two of the World Series, and giddy Giants fans were loath to put away their smart phones until the final plea from the house managers. But then the curtain rose on perhaps the finest and most moving display of athleticism, professionalism, and grace to be found outside of AT&T Park. The 1957 musical, which updated Romeo and Juliet with a cross-cultural romance between Tony (Kyle Harris) and Maria (Ali Ewoldt) amid immigrant gangland New York, came instantly alive with all its storied potency—revved up for new millennium audiences with less reserved violence and the addition of a smattering of real Spanish throughout. David Saint's excellent cast—including standout Michelle Aravena as Anita—and a nicely dynamic orchestra under conductor John O'Neill do satisfying justice to the jagged, jazzy modernism of Leonard Bernstein's score, Stephen Sondheim's soaring lyrics, Arthur Laurents' smart book, and Jerome Robbins' mesmerizing choreography (here re-created by Joey McKneely). At intermission, the house manager graciously announced the final winning score from the ballpark, and everyone cheered. It was a win-win situation. (Avila)
Cinderella, Enchanted Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College, Berk; (510) 665-5565, www.berkeleyplayhouse.org. $15-33. Call for run times. Through Dec 5. Frenchie Davis is plays the Fairy Godmother in this production of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical.
CTRL-ALT-DELETE Pear Avenue Theatre, 1220 Pear, Mountain View; (650) 254-1148, www.thepear.org. $15-30. Thurs/18-Sat/20, 8pm; Sun/21, 2pm. Pear Avenue Theatre presents the comedy by Anthony Clarvoe.
Deviations Durham Studio Theater, Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley, Berk; (510) 642-8827, www.ticketturtle.com. $10. Fri/19-Sat/20, 8pm; Sun/21, 2pm. Choreographer Joe Goode collaborates with UC Berkeley's Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies students on this new theatrical work.
Dracula Center REPertory Company, 1601 Civic, Walnut Creek; (925) 943-SHOW, www.centerrep.org. $36-42. Wed/17, 7:30pm; Thurs/18-Sat/20, 8pm. Eugene Brancoveanu stars as the Count in a production directed by Michael Butler.
*East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Dates and times vary. Through Sun/21. Don Reed's solo play, making its Oakland debut after an acclaimed New York run, is truly a welcome homecoming twice over. (Avila)
Happy Now? Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; (415) 388-5208, www.marintheatre.org. $32-53. Tues and Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Dec 5. Marin Theatre Company performs Lucinda Coxon's stinging comedy about contemporary marriage.
Palomino Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org. $10-55. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm; Tues, 7pm. Through Dec 5. David Cale brings his new solo play about a gigolo to Aurora Theatre for its Bay Area premiere.
Pirates of Penzance Novato Theatre Company Playhouse, 484 Ignacio, Novato; 883-4498, www.novatotheatercompany.org. $12-22. Thurs/18-Sat/20, 8pm; Sun/21, 3pm. Novato Theatre Company revives the popular Gilbert and Sullivan swashbuckling tale.
*The Play About the Naked Guy La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $10-20. Thurs-Sat, 8pm (no show Nov 25). Through Dec 11. Impact Theatre presents an off-Broadway hit, written by David Bell and directed by Evren Odcikin.
Winter's Tale Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 649-5999, www.aeofberkeley.org. $12-15. Thurs/18-Sat/20, 8pm. Actor's Ensemble of Berkeley presents the rarely-performed Shakespeare play.