Almost Nothing, Day of Absence Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, 450 Post, SF; (415) 474-8800, www.lhtsf.org. $43-53. Previews Oct 11-13, 8pm. Opens Oct 14, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through Nov 20. Lorraine Hansberry Theatre performs one-act plays by Marcos Barbosa and Douglas Turner Ward.
Making Porn Box Car Theatre Studios, 125A Hyde, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $25-50. Opens Fri/7, 8pm. Runs Thurs, 8pm; Fri-Sun, 7pm (also Fri-Sat, 10pm). Through Oct 29. Ronnie Larsen brings back his crowd-pleasing comedy about the gay porn industry.
Nymph Errant Eureka Theater, 215 Jackson, SF; (415) 255-8207, www.42ndstmoon.org. $20-50. Previews Wed/5, 7pm; Thurs/6-Fri/7, 8pm. Opens Sat/8, 6pm. Runs Wed, 7pm; Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Oct 23. 42nd Street Moon performs Cole Poerter's madcap 1933 musical.
"San Francisco Olympians Festival" Exit Theater, 156 Eddy, SF; www.sfolympians.com. Opens Thurs/6, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 28. No Nude Men Productions presents a festival of 12 new full-length plays written by 14 local writers. Each play focuses on one of the Olympian characters from ancient Greece.
Tutor: Enter the Enclave Exit Studio, 156 Eddy, SF; (415) 673-3847, www.darkporchtheatre.com. $15-25. Opens Thurs/6, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 22. Dark Porch Theatre performs Martin Schwartz's play, inspired by an 18th century German drama, about a tutor who realizes the creepy family he works for is not quite what they seem.
Bellwether Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; (415) 388-5208, www.marintheatre.org. $34-55. Previews Thurs/6-Sat/8, 8pm; Sun/9, 2 and 7pm. Opens Tues/11, 8pm. Runs Tues, Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Oct 20, 1pm; Oct 15 and 29, 2pm); Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Oct 30. Marin Theatre Company performs Steve Yockey's spooky fairy tale for adults.
Clementine in the Lower 9 TheatreWorks at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro, Mtn View; (650) 463-1960, www.theatreworks.org. $19-69. Previews Wed/5-Fri/7, 8pm. Opens Sat/8, 8pm. Runs Tues-Wed, 7:30pm; Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Oct 30. TheatreWorks presents the world premiere of Dan Dietz's post-Katrina New Orleans drama.
"AfroSolo Arts Festival" Various venues, SF; www.afrosolo.org. Free-$100. Through Oct 20. The AfroSolo Theatre Company presents its 18th annual festival celebrating African American artists, musicians, and performers.
Alice Down the Rwong Wrabbit Whole Emerald Tablet, 80 Fresno, SF; (415) 500-2323, www.brownpapertickets.com. $15. Fri-Sat, 9pm. Through Oct 15. Karen Light and Edna Barrón perform their new comedy based on Alice in Wonderland.
American Buffalo Actors Theatre of San Francisco, 855 Bush, SF; (415) 345-1287, www.actorstheatresf.org. $26-38. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Extended through Oct 8. Actors Theatre of San Francisco performs the David Mamet crime classic.
Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief Boxcar Theatre Playhouse, 505 Natoma, SF; www.boxcartheatre.org. $15-35. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Nov 5. Boxcar Theatre performs Pauls Vogel's dark comedy, inspired by the three female characters from Shakespeare's Othello.
Honey Brown Eyes SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter, SF; (415) 677-9596, www.sfplayhouse.org. $20-50. Tues-Thurs, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm). Through Nov 5. Bosnia in 1992 is divided in a horrifying civil war, some characteristics of which play out in parallel circumstances for two members of a single rock band in SF Playhouse's west coast premiere of Stefanie Zadravec's new play. In the first act, set in Visegrad, a young Bosnian Muslim woman (Jennifer Stuckert) is held at gunpoint in her kitchen by a jumpy soldier (Nic Grelli) engaged in a mission of murder and dispossession known as ethnic cleansing. Her husband has already been killed, and she insists she has no daughter (Madeleine Pauker) hiding somewhere, despite the soldier's information. When she recognizes him from her brother's band in the days before the war, he realizes she's the girl he long ago had a crush on, beginning a tentative truce in an untenable situation. The second act moves to Sarajevo and the apartment of an elderly woman (Wanda McCaddon) who gives shelter and a rare meal to an army fugitive (Chad Deverman). He in turn keeps the bereaved if indomitable woman company. This is the brother of the young woman in act one, the band's leader who called it quits and dissolved the group in a harmless but foreshadowing analogy to the disbanding of an entire country. Director Susi Damilano and cast are clearly committed to Zadravec's ambitious if hobbled play, but the action can be too contrived and unrealistic (especially in act one) to be credible while the tone — zigzagging between the horror of atrocity and the offbeat gestures of romantic comedy — comes over as confused indecision rather than a deliberate concoction. (Avila)
Joy With Wings: A Daughter's Tale Alcove Theater, 415 Mason, Fifth Flr, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $32-50. Wed/5-Thurs/6, 8pm. Chaucer Theater performs Becky Parker's drama about a mother's love.
Killing My Lobster Conquers the Galaxy The Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida, SF; www.killingmylobster.com. $10-20. Thurs/6-Fri/7, 8pm; Sat/8-Sun/9, 7pm (also Sat/8, 10pm). Through Sun/9. The sketch comedy troupe returns with a sci-fi show.
The Kipling Hotel: True Misadventures of the Electric Pink '80s Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Nov 13. Acclaimed solo performer Don Reed (East 14th) premieres his new show, based on his post-Oakland years living in Los Angeles.
Lucrezia Borgia War Memorial Opera House, 201 Van Ness, SF; (415) 864-3330, www.sfopera.com. $30-389. Wed/5, 7:30pm; Sat/8 and Tues/11, 8pm. Famed soprano Renée Fleming stars in San Francisco Opera's presentation of Gaetano Donizetti's classic.
Night Over Erzinga South Side Theatre, Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; (415) 345-7575, www.goldenthread.org. $20-100. Thurs/6, 8:30pm; Fri/7-Sat/8, 8pm; Sun/9, 2pm. Golden Thread Productions' season opener is the result of its first-ever Middle East America new play initiative (co-presented with Chicago's Silk Road Theatre Project and New York's Lark Play Development Center): playwright Adriana Sevahn Nichols' story of three generations in an Armenian American family struggling with a history of violence, dispossession, and the tensions between individual and collective destiny in the modern world. The play begins at an overly dramatic pitch as a young woman (Sarita Ocón) summons the spirits of her grandparents. Director Hafiz Karmali's staging is deliberately spare and sensible throughout, though this initial action feels alternately stiff and shuffling, and the recorded music can be overbearing, as the roots of a family saga are laid immediately before and after the 1915 genocide. But the second act settles into a surer and more engaging mode and tempo, as Ava (a sharp Juliet Tanner in a nicely shaded performance), rebellious American daughter of two Armenian exiles (Terry Lamb and Neva Marie Hutchinson), pursues a career as a popular dancer and singer and ends up estranged from her father for years (her mother, sole survivor of a massacred Armenian family, spends her latter years in a mental institution). Wooed by a charming Dominican crooner (an adept, appealing Brian Trybom), Ava starts a family of her own. While pregnant with daughter Estrella (the young, spirited Natalie Amanian), she re-establishes a shaky relationship with her repentant father. Old wounds and buried histories insure reconciliation won't be easy, but the truth alone shows the way back to a sense of connection and communion for a family severed by injustice and unmoored in the drift of immigrant America. (Avila)
Not Getting Any Younger Marsh San Francisco, Studio Theater, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 826-5750, www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Oct 23. Marga Gomez is back at the Marsh, a couple of too-brief decades after inaugurating the theater's new stage with her first solo show — an apt setting, in other words, for the writer-performer's latest monologue, a reflection on the inevitable process of aging for a Latina lesbian comedian and artist who still hangs at Starbucks and can't be trusted with the details of her own Wikipedia entry. If the thought of someone as perennially irreverent, insouciant, and appealingly immature as Gomez makes you depressed, the show is, strangely enough, the best antidote. Her narrative careens wildly from character-filled childhood memories (the earliest traumas on down) and stand-up-like shtick that turns over well-worn subject matter like babies with freshly piquant musings (idea for an "it get better" campaign for infants: you'll be able to wipe yourself and chew your own food). There's even something like wisdom, or anyway historical curiosity, in her skewed nostalgia for such childhood ephemera as Freedomland, a doomed Bronx-based Disneyland alternative Gomez is old enough to remember visiting. Needless to say, she looks and acts very good for her age, whatever it is exactly (there are, typically, no straight answers here).
The Odyssey Aboard Alma, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, SF; www.weplayers.org. $160. Oct 28-29, Nov 4-6, 11-12, and 18, 12:30pm. This "full afternoon adventure" (12:30-5pm) includes a sailing performance of tales from Homer by We Players (aboard an 1891 scow schooner), plus a light meal.
Once in a Lifetime American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary, SF; (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org. $10-85. Tues-Sat, 8pm (Fri/7 performance at 7pm); Wed and Sat-Sun, 2pm. Through Oct 16. ACT performs a revival of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's 1939 Hollywood satire.
ShEvil Dead Cellspace, 2050 Bryant, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $25. Fri/7-Sat/8, Oct 15, 21, and 28-29, 8pm. Primitive Screwheads return with a horror play (in which the audience is literally sprayed with blood, so leave the fancy suit at home!) based on the Evil Dead movies.
"Shocktoberfest 12: Fear Over Frisco" Hypnodrome Theatre, 575 10th St, SF; (415) 377-4202, www.thrillpeddlers.com. $25-35. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Nov 19. In its annual season-scented horror bid, Thrillpeddlers joins forces with SF's Czar of Noir, writer-director Eddie Muller, for a sharply penned triplet of plays that resurrect lurid San Francisco lore as flesh-and-blood action. In the slightly sluggish but intriguing Grand Inquisitor, a solitary young woman modeling herself on Louise Brooks in Lulu (an alluringly Lulu-like Bonni Suval) believes she has located the Zodiac killer's widow (a sweet but cagey Mary Gibboney) — a scenario that just can't end well for somebody, yet manages to defy expectations. An Obvious Explanation turns on an amnesiac (Daniel Bakken) whose brother (Flynn de Marco) explains the female corpse in the rollaway (Zelda Koznofski) before asking bro where he hid a certain pile of money. Enter a brash doctor (Suval) with a new drug and ambitions of her own vis-à-vis the hapless head case. Russell Blackwood directs The Drug, which adapts a Grand Guignol classic to the hoity-toity milieu of the Van Nesses and seedy Chinatown opium dens, where a rough-playing attorney (an ever persuasive Eric Tyson Wertz) determines to turn a gruesome case involving the duplicitous Mrs. Van Ness (an equally sure, sultry Kära Emry) to his own advantage. The evening also offers a blackout spook show and some smoothly atmospheric musical numbers, including Muller's rousing "Fear Over Frisco" (music composed by Scrumbly Koldewyn; accompaniment by Steve Bolinger and Birdie-Bob Watt) and an aptly low-down Irving Berlin number — both winningly performed by the entire company. (Avila)
Show Ho New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; (415) 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $20-32. Thurs/6-Sat/8, 8pm; Sun/9, 2pm. Sara Moore performs her multi-character story about a clown in a low-rent circus.
Sorya! A Minor Miracle (Part One) NOHSpace, Project Artaud, 2840 Mariposa, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $12-18. Sun-Mon, 7pm. Through Oct 24. Theatre of Yugen presents a selection of new and traditional Kyogen comedies.
*A Delicate Balance Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org. $10-48. Tues, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Extended through Oct 23. Aurora Theatre performs Edward Albee's comedy of manners.
Madhouse Rhythm Cabaret at Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $15-35. Thurs/6, 7:30pm. Joshua Walters performs his hip-hop-infused autobiographical show about his experiences with bipolar disorder.
*Phaedra Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; (510) 841-6500, www.shotgunplayers.org. $17-26. Wed-Thurs, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Oct 23. Catherine (Catherine Castellanos) is the loveless matron in the impeccably tidy, upper-class home of middle-aged right-wing judge Antonio (Keith Burkland), secretly infatuated with her stepson (Patrick Alparone), the prodigal returning home from jail and rehab for a new start. Catherine's cold, obsessively ordered run of the household — with heavy-lifting by her cheerful, steadfast housekeeper (a wonderfully genuine Trish Mulholland) — masks a desolation and chaos inside her, a churning emptiness evoked in the deliberately listless pace of act one and the skudding clouds we can see reflected in the walls of designer Nina Ball's impressively stolid, icily tasteful living room. Portland Center Stage's Rose Riordan directs a strong cast (which includes Cindy Im, as the stepson's rehab partner and sexual interest) in a modern-day adaptation of the Greek myth by Adam Bock (The Shaker Chair, Swimming in the Shallows), in a worthy premiere for Shotgun Players. The drama comes leavened by Bock's well-developed humor and the dialogue, while inconsistent, can be eloquent. The storm that breaks in the second act, however, feels a bit compressed and, especially after the languid first act, contributes to a somewhat pinched narrative. But whatever its limitations, Catherine's predicament is palpably dramatic, especially in Castellanos's deeply moving performance — among her best work to date and alone worth giving Phaedra a chance. (Avila)
*Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org. $14.50-73. Tues-Sun, showtimes vary. Through Oct 30. The life of stage and screen legend Rita Moreno is a subject that has no trouble filling two swift and varied acts, especially as related in anecdote, song, comedy, and dance by the serene multiple–award-winning performer and Berkeley resident herself. Indeed, that so much material gets covered so succinctly but rarely abruptly is a real achievement of this attractively adorned autobiographical solo show crafted with playwright and Berkeley Rep artistic director Tony Taccone. (Avila)
The Taming of the Shrew Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Wy, Orinda; (510) 809-3290, www.calshakes.org. $35-66. Tues-Thurs, 7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 4pm. Through Oct 16. California Shakespeare Theatre's last show of the season is a high-fashion, pop-art take on Shakespeare's battle of the sexes.
The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh Berkeley, TheaterStage, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 826-5750, www.themarsh.org. $8-50. Sun, 11am. Through Nov 20. Louis "The Amazing Bubble Man" Pearl returns with this kid-friendly, bubble-tastic comedy.
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.
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