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 firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.
The Book of Liz Custom Made Theatre, 1620 Gough, SF; www.custommade.org. $10-29. Previews Fri/24-Sat/25, 8pm; Sun/26, 7pm. Opens Tues/28, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through July 31. Custom Made Theatre performs David and Amy Sedaris' comedy about an unconventional nun.
A Raisin in the Sun Pear Avenue Theatre, 1220 Pear, Mtn. View; (650) 254-1148, www.thepear.org. $15-30. Previews Thurs/23, 8pm. Opens Fri/24, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through July 10. Lorraine Hansberry's classic play comes to life on the Pear Avenue Theatre stage.
Working for the Mouse La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; www.impacttheatre.com. $10-20. Opens Thurs/23, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sun, 8pm. Through July 8. Trevor Allen revives his hit solo comedy about working at Disneyland in this Impact Theatre and Black Box Theatre co-production.
All Atheists Are Muslim Stage Werx, 533 Sutter, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $20. Runs Sun, 7pm. Through July 10. Zahra Noorbakhsh returns with her timely comedy.
Assassins Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.roltheatre.com. $20-36. Thurs/23-Sat/25, 8pm (also Sat/25, 2pm). Whether the world truly needed a Sondheim musical about the joys of political assassination or not is debatable, but as long as there is one it might as well go for the gusto. Brought to you by Ray of Light Theatre, the folks behind last year's production of Jerry Springer the Opera, Assassins imbues society's greatest misfits with quirky relatability. From Joel Roster's hangdog portrayal of Leon Czolgosz (McKinley's assassin) to Lisa-Marie Newton's frazzled Sara Jane Moore (attempted to off Ford), Danny Cozart's foul-mouthed, Santa Claus-suited, Samuel Byck (out for Nixon) to Gregory Sottolano's loopy Charles Guiteau (bagged Garfield), the solid cast examines the assassination impulse in a breezy, borderline goofy manner. The production takes a more somber tone when Lee Harvey Oswald (Michael Scott Wells) takes the stage, encouraged by John Wilkes Booth (Derrick Silva) to turn a presumptive suicide attempt into one of assassination, while the other assassins beg him to legitimize their dark impulse through his action. The pacing works best when at its most frenetic, though Silva's Booth, a pokerfaced elder statesman, lends an air of balancing gravitas. But the true stars of the show might well be the ultra-tight, eight-person house band playing a wide variety of American musical styles from the last 150 years, confidently directed by David Möschler.(Nicole Gluckstern)
Assisted Living: The Musical Imperial Palace, 818 Washington, SF; 1-888-88-LAUGH, www.assistedlivingthemusical.com. $79.59-99.50 (includes dim sum). Sat-Sun, noon (also Sun, 5pm). Through July 31. Rick Compton and Betsy Bennett's comedy takes on "the pleasures and perils of later life."
Fighting Mac! Thick House Theatre, 1695 18th St, SF; 1-800-838-3006, www.therhino.org. $15-30. Opens Fri/10, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through July 3. Theatre Rhinoceros performs John Fisher's play about real-life queer British general Hector MacDonald. "Fury Factory 2011" Various venues and prices; www.brownpapertickets.com. Through July 12. Over 30 Bay Area and national companies participate in this bi-annual theater festival.
Indulgences in the Louisville Harem Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason, SF; 1-800-838-3006, www.offbroadwaywest.org. $20-40. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through July 30. Two spinster sisters find unlikely beaux in Off Broadway West Theatre's production of John Orlock's play.
Much Ado About Lebowski Cellspace, 2050 Bryant, SF; www.sfindie.com. $25. Fri/24-Sun/26, 8pm. SF IndieFest and the Primitive Screwheads perform a Shakespeare-inflected take on the Coen Brothers' classic film.
The Pride New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; (415) 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $24-40. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through July 10. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs the West Coast premiere of Alexi Kaye Campbell's love-triangle time warp drama.
Risk is This...The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival EXIT on Taylor, 227 Taylor; (800) 838-3006, www.cuttingball.com. Free. Fri/24-Sat/25, 8pm. Cutting Ball Theater closes its 11th season with a festival of experimental plays, including works by Eugenie Chan, Rob Melrose, and Annie Elias.
The Stops New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $24-40. Wed/22-Sat/25, 8pm; Sun/26, 2pm. New Conservatory Theater Center presents a musical comedy set in San Francisco.
A Streetcar Named Desire Actors Theatre, 855 Bush; 345-1287, www.actorstheatresf.org. $26-38. Wed/22-Sat/25, 8pm. Actors Theatre of San Francisco presents the Tennessee Williams tale.
*Vice Palace: The Last Cockettes Musical Thrillpeddlers' Hypnodrome, 575 10th St; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $30-35. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through July 31. Hot on the high heels of a 22-month run of Pearls Over Shanghai, the Thrillpeddlers are continuing their Theatre of the Ridiculous revival with a tits-up, balls-out production of the Cockettes' last musical, Vice Palace. Loosely based on the terrifyingly grim "Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe, part of the thrill of Palace is the way that it weds the campy drag-glamour of Pearls Over Shanghai with the Thrillpeddlers' signature Grand Guignol aesthetic. From an opening number set on a plague-stricken street ("There's Blood on Your Face") to a charming little cabaret about Caligula, staged with live assassinations, an undercurrent of darkness runs like blood beneath the shameless slapstick of the thinly-plotted revue. As plague-obsessed hostess Divina (Leigh Crow) and her right-hand "gal" Bella (Eric Tyson Wertz) try to distract a group of stir-crazy socialites from the dangers outside the villa walls, the entertainments range from silly to salacious: a suggestively-sung song about camel's humps, the wistful ballad "Just a Lonely Little Turd," a truly unexpected Rite of Spring-style dance number entitled "Flesh Ballet." Sumptuously costumed by Kara Emry, cleverly lit by Nicholas Torre, accompanied by songwriter/lyricist (and original Cockette) Scrumbly Koldewyn, and anchored by a core of Thrillpeddler regulars, Palace is one nice vice. (Gluckstern)
What Mamma Said About Down There SF Downtown Comedy Theater, 287 Ellis, SF; www.sfdowntowncomedytheater.com. $15. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through August 20. Sia Amma returns with her solo comedy.
Wish We Were Here New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; (415) 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $20-32. Thurs/23-Sat/25, 8pm. Slacker meets genie in this Michael Phillis comedy.
Care of Trees Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; (510) 841-6500, www.shotgunplayers.org. $17-26. Thurs/23-Sat/25, 8pm; Sun/26, 5pm. E. Hunter Spreen's Care of Trees, which is receiving an inventively bold world premiere production in Shotgun's capable hands is at once ambitious yet unsatisfying. The basic plot — "girl meets boy then turns into a tree &ldots; sort of" — is a quirky premise full of untapped potential. With so many possible interpretations of Georgia's (Liz Sklar) unique predicament, the one that seems most predominant is an unwitting critique of the banality of the self-realization movement. "If I don't do &ldots; what I see as right, then I'll be lost to myself," she tells her understandably frustrated husband Travis (Patrick Russell), as she abruptly shuts off her empathy-meter and bids him to do the same. During isolated pockets of dramatic tension, Georgia is stabbed in an altercation with a tree-hugger, suffers a series of violent seizures, is shuttled off to a battery of clueless doctors, and granted an audience with a Peruvian shaman, yet the underlying significance of actually turning into a tree, is barely explored, certainly never understood. Sklar and Russell turn in standout performances as the forest-crossed lovers, and the canopy of Nina Ball's inventive set soars, but overall this Tree could stand to develop some stronger roots. (Gluckstern)
Down a Little Dirt Road Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; www.justtheater.org. $15-30. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through July 3. A naturalistic family portrait twists itself into a supernatural love knot in Erin Marie Bregman's first full-length play Down a Little Dirt Road, directed by Molly Aaronson-Gelb. Dad (Anthony Nemirovsky), an earthquake researcher, has moved his family to Parkfield, Calif. for work, but Mom (Lisa Morse) is not with them. Did she die in a plane crash on September 11? Did she vanish into another dimension? Daughter Alice (Alona Bach) has plenty of theories to share, each more earnestly improbable than the last. She is also plagued with recurring nightmares, an unsettling trait she shares with her father. Together they dream of wandering, lost, in a shadow realm, gradually revealed to hold the shade of the missing mother, trying desperately to get back to her daughter while a menacing authority figure (Ryan Tasker) tries to literally pry her memories away. Alona Bach delivers a guileless, pitch-perfect performance as Alice, and her relationship with her stage parents is comfortable and genuine. Berman is clearly playing with the convention of the family-oriented horror story, much like the referenced Roald Dahl classic The Witches, but the ghostly elements prove somewhat problematic in terms of staging and clarity, and while there are a few moments with some serious spine-tingling potential, the overall effect is somewhat flat. (Gluckstern)
East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Aug. 7. Don Reed's hit solo comedy receives one last extension before Reed debuts his new show (a sequel to East 14th) in the fall.
*Edward Albee's Tiny Alice Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; (415) 388-5208, www.marintheatre.org. $32-53. Thurs/23-Sat/25, 8pm (also Sat/25, 2pm); Wed/22 and Sun/26, 7:30pm (also Sun/26, 2pm). Marin Theatre Company performs Albee's most divisive play, an erotic thriller-cum-comic allegory.
Let Me Down Easy Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org. $17-73. Thurs/23-Sat/25, 8pm (also Sat/25, 2pm); Wed/22, 7pm; Sun/26, 2pm. Anna Deavere Smith performs her latest solo show.
Metamorphosis Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org. $10-55. Tues, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through July 17. Aurora Theatre Company performs a terrifying yet comic adaptation of Kafka's classic by David Farr and Gísli Örn Gardarsson.
[title of show] TheatreWorks at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro, Mtn View; (650) 463-1960, www.theatreworks.org. $24-42. Wed/22, 7:30pm; Thurs/23-Sat/25, 8pm (also Sat/25, 2pm); Sun/26, 2 and 7pm. TheatreWorks performs a new musical about musicals by Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen.