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.
Vice Palace: The Last Cockettes Musical Thrillpeddlers' Hypnodrome, 575 10th St; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $30-35. Opens Fri/29, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through July 31. Thrillpeddlers presents composer Scrumbly Koldewyn's revival of the 1972 musical revue.
The Busy World is Hushed New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972, www.nctcsf,org. $24-40. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through May 1. New Conservatory Theatre Center presents the world premiere of a play by Keith Bunin.
*Caliente Pier 29, The Embarcadero; 438-2668, www.love.zinzanni.org. $117-145. Wed-Sat, 6pm; Sun, 5pm. Open-ended. Ricardo Salinas, cofounder of famed Mission-born radical Latino comedy trio Culture Clash, penetrates the velvet enclave of Teatro ZinZanni, taking the helm for its latest Euro-style dinner-cirque cabaret show. Under Salinas' inspired direction, the evening plays as a revolt by brown-hued kitchen and wait staff against a ruthless takeover by, what else, a Chinese conglomerate. Multiculti clashes ensue, with the underdogs led by a brother-sister team played charmingly by ZinZanni regulars Christine Deaver and Robert Lopez, and with much expert repartee and physical humor neatly enveloping characteristically stunning feats of acrobatics and circus arts that leave forkfuls of grub hovering before slack-jawed mouths. I don't know how many actual kitchen staffers out there can afford the ticket price (though it does come with a tasty five-course meal in addition to a first-class show), but the blend of Salinas and company's shrewd if subdued social commentary and big-heated Latin-fueled humor—not to mention the exquisite musical numbers featuring guest star Rebekah Del Rio—lead to something altogether harmonious. (Avila)
Collected Stories Stage Werx, 533 Sutter; Z(800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $20-25. Fri-Sat, 8pm (alos April 24 2pm). Through May 7. Stage Werx presents David Margulies' drama about art, ethics, and betrayal.
Cordelia NOHspace, 2840 Mariposa; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $18-20. Wed-Thurs, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through May 7. Theatre of Yugen presents world premiere of an abstraction of Shakespeare's King Lear.
*40 Pounds in 12 Weeks The Marsh, Studio Theater, 1074 Valencia; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org. $15-35. Call for dates and times. Through Sat/30. Pidge Meade's one-woman show extends its successful run.
*Geezer Marsh, 1062 Valencia; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Thurs, 8pm; Sat, 5pm; Sun, 3pm. Through July 10. The Marsh presents a new solo show about aging and mortality by Geoff Hoyle.
*Into the Clear Blue Sky Phoenix Theater, 414 Mason; 913-7272, www.sleepwalkerstheatre.com. $15-17. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/30. In our post-apocalyptic future as imagined by J.C. Lee, New Jersey is a pitched battleground of mythic proportions, and the moon is open for business. Against a spare backdrop of torn, crumpled fragments of letters and skillfully understated lighting (designed respectively by Ben Randle, Christian Mejia, and Alexander C. Senchak), a nuclear family of four experiences a severe meltdown. We meet a deadbeat dad who disappears into space (Christopher Nelson), a runaway daughter whose hands are disfigured by chemical burns (Dina Percia), a slightly unhinged, Neruda-quoting mother (Pamela Smith), and a banished son, Kale (Eric Kerr), who sets out on a hero's quest to bring his sister home. The second part of the "This World and After" trilogy, being staged this season in its entirety by Sleepwalkers Theatre, Into the Clear Blue Sky may be set in a futuristic world beset by cannibals and sea monsters, but its primary concerns are those close to the heart. In fact, the most sympathetic character by far is the lovelorn neighbor boy, Cody (Adrian Anchondo), who would wear his heart on his sleeve if he had sleeves to wear it on; a bare-chested, face-painted, poetry-spouting Sancho Panza to Kale's Quixote. Under Ben Randle's direction, the actors morph easily from their characters into parts of the set and even the lighting team, making the most of a small budget with their large collaborative effort. (Gluckstern)
Loveland The Marsh, 1062 Valencia; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org. $20-35. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm (also Sun/1 and 8, 7pm). Through May 8. Ann Rudolph's one-woman show continues its successful run.
M. Butterfly Gough Street Playhouse, 1620 Gough; (510) 207-5774, www.custommade.org. $20-28. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/30. Custom Made Theatre presents David Henry Hwang's award-winning play.
No Exit A.C.T., 415 Geary; (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org. $10-85. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Sun/1. Canada's Virtual Stage and Electric Company Theatre's production of Jean-Paul Sartre's 1944 hell-in-a-three–hander conceives it, rather, as a four-hander in something less than three dimensions. After director Kim Collier's concept, the production (originally staged in a warehouse but presented here on ACT's massive Geary stage) expands the duties and significance of the Valet (Jonathan Young) into a wandering, whistling comic lackey whose winking acquaintance with the audience reveals a desperation to escape his own portion of hell's (and humanity's) eternal psychological dungeon. Meanwhile, and further distractingly, Collier casts the traditional principals—three unwitting mutual torturers made up of a craven journalist (Andy Thompson), a butch home-wrecker (Laara Sadiq), and a spoiled trophy bride (Lucia Frangione)—off the stage entirely, projecting their images to us in three flat video panels. This two-dimensional realm is perhaps as claustrophobic a set-up as imaginable in so large a space as the Geary, which is part of the point, although the effect as staged rarely rises above gimmickry, especially with the monkey business concerning the Valet. Moreover, the acting as projected, with mugs in the camera lens and voices relayed over speakers, feels overly broad. All it brings anew out of the play (or Paul Bowles' crystalline adaptation) is a suspicion that Sartre's brainy but artificial and familiar composition is too dated for us without some cat toys to grab our attention. If that's the case, then the nip should have been stronger. (Avila)
Party of 2 — The New Mating Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter; 1-800-838-3006, www.partyof2themusical.com. $27-29. Fri, 9pm. Open-ended. A musical about relationships by Shopping! The Musical author Morris Bobrow.
The Real Americans The Marsh MainStage, 1062 Valencia; 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $25-35. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Through Sat/30. Dan Hoyle's hit show returns for another engagement.
Sea Turtles Exit Theater, 156 Eddy; www.generationtheatre.com. $15-25. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm (also April 28, 8pm). Through Sat/30. GenerationTheatre presents an original play by David Valayre.
Secret Identity Crisis SF Playhouse, Stage 2, 533 Sutter; 869-5384, www.un-scripted.com. $10-20. Thurs-Sat, 8pm (no show May 7). Through May 14. Un-Scripted Theater Company presents a story about unmasked heroes.
Shopping! The Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter; (800) 838-3006, www.shoppingthemusical.com. $27-29. Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. A musical comedy revue about shopping by Morris Bobrow.
A Streetcar Named Desire Actors Theatre, 855 Bush; 345-1287, www.actorstheatresf.org. $26-38. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through June 4. Actors Theatre of San Francisco presents the Tennessee Williams tale.
Talking With Angels Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $21-35. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through May 21. A play by Shelley Mitchell set in Nazi-occupied Hungary.
Twelfth Night African American Art & Culture Complex, 762 Fulton; (800) 838-3006, www.African-AmericanShakes.org. $15-35. Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Sun/1. African-American Shakespeare Company presents a jazzy interpretation of the Bard.
East 14th – True Tale of a Reluctant Player The Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston Way, Berk; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through May 8. Don Reed's one-man show continues.
*Eccentricities of a Nightingale Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org. $10-55. Tues, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through May 8. Bracketed literally from beginning to end by fireworks, Aurora Theatre's production of Tennesee Williams' The Eccentricities of a Nightingale offers some serious bang. On the surface, a tragic-comic tale of unrequited love in small-town Mississippi, Eccentricities plunges into deeper waters, exploring the ever-waged war between societal norms and its misfits -- and the struggle to remain true to oneself -- with a subtly layered approach. Protagonist Alma (Beth Wilmurt), the titular Nightingale, isolated by her complicated family circumstances and her own mild eccentricities, carries a long-burning torch for the boy-next-door, a rather callow young doctor (Thomas Gorrebeeck) with a terrifyingly overprotective mother (Marcia Pizzo). But Alma's yearning, as much habit as attraction, has less to do with a dream of settling down with a nice doctor husband, but rather of freeing herself from the conventions that threaten to crush her spirit. Alma's nervous artistic temperament hides a solidly pragmatic core, and when she has her young doctor alone in a hotel room at last, her plea for him to "give me an hour and I'll make a lifetime of it," rings not of desperation but of the adventure she craves. Director Tom Ross deftly brings out the gentle humor and bittersweet victory in the text via a strong cast and stellar design team. (Gluckstern)
Lolita Roadtrip San Jose Stage, 490 S. 1st St, San Jose; (408) 283-7142, www.thestage.org. $20-40. Wed-Thurs, 7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Sun/1. An emotionally scarred graduate student (Chloë Bronzan) writing her thesis on Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita heads from New York back to Stanford to confront her own personal Humbert Humbert of a thesis adviser (Julian López-Morillas). Accompanying her is a handsome underage hustler (Patrick Alparone) who finagles a ride as far as Santa Monica with hopes of making her his first female conquest. Meanwhile, the Stanford literature prof attends to his dying wife (Stacy Ross) between final touches on the last chapter of a secretly predacious book and dull lectures on "sex and death" to his undergraduate class. As co-presented by San Jose Stage and PlayGround, Bay Area playwright Trevor Allen's latest has a high-powered director, cast, and crew behind it but nevertheless limps along as a flatfooted cross-country trek into a traumatic past, its narrative meagerly fueled by reference to a real-life road trip undertaken by Nabokov and family in 1941 (during which the writer and butterfly enthusiast discovered a new subspecies of Lepidoptera) and thin fumes drawn from a still great if long since controversial novel. It feels like an empty exercise and unfortunately abounds in corny humor as "corny humor," joyless crosscutting of multiple monologues, a thematically leaden butterfly lecture by Nabokov (López-Morillas), forced repartee (delivered at a tediously breathless pace), and far-fetched situations. There was the pupa of an idea here at one point, but it was neither new (even as a subspecies) nor sensibly developed before being asked to fly. (Avila)
Not a Genuine Black Man The Marsh Berkeley, TheaterStage, 2120 Allston Way, Berk; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Thurs, 7:30pm. Through May 5. Brian Copeland's one-man show continues.
Out of Sight The Marsh Berkeley, Theaterstage, 2120 Allston Way, Berk; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Sat, 5pm (no show Sat/9); Sun, 3pm. Through May 8. Sara Felder's one-woman show returns.
Passion Play Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 649-5999, www.aeofberkeley.org. $10-15. Fri-Sat, 7pm (also May 1, 18, and 15, 2pm). Through May 21. Actors Ensemble of Berkeley presents the West Coast premiere of a time-travel play by Sarah Ruhl.
Three Sisters Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-73. Dates and times vary. Through May 22. The creators of In the Next Room present a new take on Chekhov. The World's Funniest Bubble Show The Marsh Berkeley, Cabaret, 2120 Allston Way, Berk; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org. $8-50. Through July 10. The Amazing Bubble Man returns. *