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.
Future Motive Power Old Mint, 88 Fifth St, SF; www.mugwumpin.org. $15-30 (previews, pay what you can). Previews Fri/6-Sat/7, 8pm. Opens Sun/8, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sun, 8pm. Through Jan 29. Mugwumpin takes on the life of Nikola Tesla in its latest performance piece.
The Two-Character Play Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.therhino.org. $10-25. Previews Wed/4-Fri/6, 8pm. Opens Sat/7, 8pm. Runs Tues-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Jan 15. Theatre Rhinoceros performs Tennessee Williams' backstage drama about a brother and a sister torn apart by secrets.
Not Getting Any Younger Marsh San Francisco, Studio Theater, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 826-5750, www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5 and 8:30pm. Extended through Feb 25. 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. (Avila)
*Period of Adjustment SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter, SF; (415) 677-9596, www.sfplayhouse.org. $20-50. Tues-Thurs, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 9pm (also Sat, 3pm). Through Jan 14. A nervous young man with an unaccountable tremor, George Haverstick (a compellingly manic Patrick Alparone) has waited until his honeymoon to finally call on his old Korean War buddy, Ralph (a stout but tender Johnny Moreno) — only to drop his new bride, Isabel (the terrifically quick and sympathetic MacKenzie Meehan), at the doorstep and hurry away. As it happens, Ralph's wife of five years, Dorothea (an appealing Maggie Mason), has just quit him and taken their young son with her, turning the family Christmas tree and its uncollected gifts into a forlorn monument to a broken home — which, incidentally, has a tremor of its own, having been built atop a vast cavern. Tennessee Williams calls his 1960 play "a serious comedy," which is about right, since although things end on a warm and cozy note, the painful crises of two couples and the lost natures of two veterans — buried alive in two suburbs each called "High Point" — are the stuff of real distress. SF Playhouse artistic director Bill English gets moving but clear-eyed, unsentimental performances from his strong cast — bolstered by Jean Forsman and Joe Madero as Dorothea's parents—whose principals do measured justice to the complex sexual and psychological tensions woven throughout. If not one of Williams's great plays, this is an engaging and surprisingly memorable one just the same, with the playwright's distinctive blend of the metaphorical and concrete. As a rare snowfall blankets this Memphis Christmas Eve, 1958, something dark and brooding lingers in the storybook cheer. (Avila)
Xanadu New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; (415) 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm (no show Sun/1). Through Jan 15. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs the retro roller-skating musical.
*God's Plot Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; (510) 841-6500, www.shotgunplayers.org. $18-27. Wed-Thurs, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Jan 15. Playwright-director Mark Jackson excavates a bit of deep history for Occupy USA, an episode in the annals of colonial American theater and jurisprudence that played, and plays, like a rehearsal for a revolution — this time with music. Capping Shotgun Players' 20th anniversary season of new work, God's Plot comically animates and literally underscores (through song, and irresistible banjo and bass accompaniment courtesy of Josh Pollock and Travis Kindred) the story surrounding "Ye Bare and Ye Cubb," a play performed in 1665 Virginia but now lost. The legal battle that engulfed this satire of the English crown and its economic and political domination of the colonies was an early instance of the close but little acknowledged relationship between art and politics in proto-American society, with much too of religious conflict in the mix (personified here by a powerfully smoldering John Mercer as closet-Quaker Edward Martin). The playwright, a brash self-inventor named William Darby (a sure, charismatic Carl Holvick-Thomas), colludes with a disgruntled merchant (Anthony Nemirovsky) and a former indentured servant climbing the social ladder as a new tenant hand (Will Hand). Darby, meanwhile, is secretly wooing — and even more, being wooed by — Tryal Pore (an ebullient, magnetic Juliana Lustenader), a young woman even braver and more outspoken than he. As an expression of her novel and unbridled spirit, Tryal alone breaks into song to express her feelings or observations. Her temperament is meanwhile a source of worry to her father (a comically deft Kevin Clarke) and mother (Fontana Butterfield), but also attracts an unwitting suitor (a compellingly serious Joe Salazar). The play's overarching narrative of nationalist ferment, which reaches an overtly stirring pitch, thus comes mirrored by the tension in two dramatic triangles whose common point is the precocious, golden-throated Tryal Pore. More of the private drama might have served the overall balance of the play, but a good part of the achievement of director Jackson and his generally muscular cast is making a complex play of enduring ideas and conflicts look so effortless and fun. (Avila)
*The Kipling Hotel: True Misadventures of the Electric Pink '80s New venue: Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Opens Sat/7, 8:30pm. Runs Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Feb 12. This new autobiographical solo show by Don Reed, writer-performer of the fine and long-running East 14th, is another slice of the artist's journey from 1970s Oakland ghetto to comedy-circuit respectability — here via a partial debate-scholarship to UCLA. The titular Los Angeles residency hotel was where Reed lived and worked for a time in the 1980s while attending university. It's also a rich mine of memory and material for this physically protean and charismatic comic actor, who sails through two acts of often hilarious, sometimes touching vignettes loosely structured around his time on the hotel's young wait staff, which catered to the needs of elderly patrons who might need conversation as much as breakfast. On opening night, the episodic narrative seemed to pass through several endings before settling on one whose tidy moral was delivered with too heavy a hand, but if the piece runs a little long, it's only the last 20 minutes that noticeably meanders. And even with some awkward bumps along the way, it's never a dull thing watching Reed work. (Avila)
*The Wild Bride Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org. $14.50-73. Tues, Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun/8 and Jan 15, 2pm; Jan 22, show at 2pm only). Extended through Jan 22. In the first act of Kneehigh Theatre's The Wild Bride, the destinies of an innocent girl (Audrey Brisson), her moonshine-making father (Stuart Goodwin), and a predatory devil in a cheap suit (Stuart McLoughlin) become inextricably entwined by an ill-fated bargain. Steeped in European fairytale logic and American folk and blues music, Bride is inventively staged at the base of a giant tree, combining mime, puppetry, dance, live music, Cirque du Soleil-style vocals, acrobatics, and taut verse into a swooping, expressionistic fable. Accidentally promised to the devil by her doting but drink-dulled dad, "The Girl" suffers first the creepy indignity of being perved on by her preternatural suitor, and secondly the horror of having her hands chopped off by her own father, actions which drive her to flee into the woods, morphing into a character known only as "The Wild" (played by Patrycja Kujawska). After a stint as an unlikely, Edward Scissorhands-esque queen, The Wild too is driven from comfort and morphs a second time into a third character "The Woman" (Éva Magyar), an experience-toughened mother bear who kicks the devil's ass (literally), and triumphs over adversity, without even uttering a single word. At turns dark, dexterous, fanciful, and fatal, Bride rises above the usual holiday fare with a timeless enchantment. (Gluckstern)
The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh Berkeley, TheaterStage, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 826-5750, www.themarsh.org. $8-50. Extended run: Jan 15, Jan 21, Feb 12, 19, 26, March 11, and 18, 11am. Louis "The Amazing Bubble Man" Pearl returns with this kid-friendly, bubble-tastic comedy.
Café Royale 800 Post, SF; (415) 641-6033. Free. Fri, 8pm: Spoken word with Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye. Mon, 7pm: Comedy with Cara Tramontano.
"Cut the Crap! With Semi-Motivational Guru, Clam Lynch" Dark Room, 2263 Mission, SF; www.darkroomsf.com. Fri/6 and Jan 13, 8pm. $15. Get motivated with self-help-guru-satirizing comedian Clam Lynch.
"A Funny Night for Comedy" Actors Theatre of San Francisco, 855 Bush, SF; (415) 345-1287. Sun, 7pm. $10. With host Natasha Muse.
"The Proud" Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF; (415) 826-4441, www.dancemission.com. Sat, 8pm; Sun, 6pm; Mon, 5pm. Free. Dance Brigade's Dance Mission Theater and Iraq Vets Against the War present this workshop production of Aaron Loeb's new play about post-traumatic stress syndrome.