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.
Glengarry Glen Ross Actors Theatre of San Francisco, 855 Bush, SF; (415) 345-1287, www.brownpapertickets.com. $26-40. Opens Fri/3, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through March 24. David Mamet's cutthroat comedy, courtesy of the Actors Theatre of San Francisco.
Higher Theater at Children's Creativity Museum, 221 Howard, SF; (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org. $10-65. Previews Wed/1-Fri/3, 8pm; Sat/4, 2pm. Opens Sun/5, 7pm. Runs Tues-Sat, 8pm (Tues/7, show at 7pm; also Wed, Sat-Sun, 2pm; no matinee Feb 8). Through Feb 19. American Conservatory Theatre presents Carey Perloff's smart and sexy world premiere.
Vigilance Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason, SF; (415) 335-6087, secondwind.8m.com. $20-25. Opens Fri/3, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Feb 25. Second Wind performs Bay Area playwright Ian Walker's thriller.
The Waiting Period MainStage, Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Previews Thurs/2, 8pm. Opens Fri/3, 8pm. Runs Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through March 24. Brian Copeland returns with a new solo show about his struggles with depression.
Counter Attack! Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; (510) 444-4755, ext. 114, www.stagebridge.org. $18-25. Opens Wed/3, 7:30pm. Runs Wed-Thurs, 7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through March 4. Stagebridge presents the world premiere of Joan Holden's waitress-centric play.
A Steady Rain Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, SF; (415) 388-5208, www.marintheatre.org. $34-55. Previews Thurs/2-Sat/4, 8pm; Sun/5, 7pm. Opens Tues/7, 8pm. Runs Tues and Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Feb 11 and 25, 2pm; Feb 16, 1pm); Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Feb 26. Marin Theatre Company performs Keith Huff's neo-noir drama.
Cabaret Young Performers Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Bldc C, Room 300, Marina at Laguna, SF; (415) 381-1638, cabaretsf.wordpress.com. $25-45. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Feb 19. Shakespeare at Stinson and Independent Cabaret Productions perform the Kander and Ebb classic in an intimate setting.
Food Stories: Pleasure is Pleasure Z Space, Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $20-55. Wed/1-Thurs/2, 7pm; Fri/3-Sat/4, 8pm; Sun/5, 2pm. Word for Word serves up two short stories with a gastronomical theme — T.C. Boyle's Sorry Fugu and Alice McDermott's Enough — fleshed out in W4W's trademark verbatim style by a versatile six-person ensemble under direction of John Fisher. First course, by Boyle, is a nicely acted but fairly drab comic soufflé that tastes pretty familiar. Its setting is a restaurant turned upside down by the ambition of its portly, middle-aged, married chef (Soren Oliver), obsessed with winning over the big paper's notoriously dismissive and all-powerful food critic (Molly Benson), who turns out to be a secretly insecure bombshell with a perennial dinner companion nicknamed The Palate (Gendell Hernandez). Fisher's cast comes together well after a few hiccups, and the staging, while sometimes erratic, includes some inspired moments. But the story as a whole has little more to it than the food-as-sex seduction we see coming early on, and consequently lacks any real suspense. More satisfying all around is McDermott's Enough, a salty, well acted, and fluidly staged condensation of a single lifetime — bracketed by scenes of eager tonguing of ice cream dregs. In this family history of a sweetly sybaritic but otherwise ordinary American woman (played variously by Delia MacDougall and Patricia Silver) food and sex are intertwined again but hardly, as the author stresses, in a metaphorical sense: "Pleasure is pleasure," after all, and life is good to the last drop. (Avila)
*Humor Abuse American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary, SF; (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org. $10-85. Wed/1-Sat/4, 8pm (also Wed/1 and Sat/4, 2pm); Sun/5, 2pm. "This is a show about clowning," Lorenzo Pisoni advises his audience at the outset of his graceful solo performance, "and I'm the straight man." It's a funny line, actually — funny because it's true, and not true. In the deft routines that follow, as well as in the snapshots cast on the atmospherically dingy curtain hung center stage, the career of this Pickle Family Circus brat (already alone in the spotlight by age two) never veers far from the shadow of his father. That fact remains central to the winning comedy and wistful reflection in Humor Abuse. Reared in the commotion and commitment of the famed San Francisco circus founded by his parents Larry Pisoni and Peggy Snider, Lorenzo had a childhood both enviable and unusually challenging. The fact that he shares his name with both a grandfather and his dad's famous clown persona is instructive. His trials and his triumphs are further conflated — along with his father's —in such elegant catastrophes as falling down a long flight of stairs. And in his good-humored and honest reflections, the existential poignancy at the heart of such artful buffoonery begins to rise to the surface. The spoken narrative feels a little pinched or abbreviated, in truth, but there are no shortcuts to the skill or wider perspective inculcated by the charming Pisoni and (under direction of co-creator Erica Schmidt) set enthralling in motion. (Avila)
*Little Brother Gough Street Playhouse, 1620 Gough, SF; www.custommade.org. $25-32. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Feb 25. Custom Made Theatre Co. performs Josh Costello's adaptation of Cory Doctorow's San Francisco-set thriller.
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)
Olivia's Kitchen Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; www.generationtheatre.com. $20-40. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Feb 19. GenerationTheatre offers this "remix" of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
"SF Sketchfest" Various venues, SF; www.sfsketchfest.com. $10-75. Wed/1-Sat/4. The 11th San Francisco Comedy Festival invades 15 venues in 17 days with local and celebrity-packed (and local-celebrity-packed) performances, film events, improv shows, and more.
Vice Palace: The Last Cockettes Musical Thrillpeddlers' Hypnodrome, 575 10th St, SF; (415) 377-4202, www.thrillpeddlers.com. $30-35. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through March 3. Thrillpeddlers revives the Cockettes' 1972 musical extravaganza.
Waiting for Godot Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa, SF; (415) 336-3522, www.tidestheatre.org. $20-38. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Feb 18. The fuchsia papier-mâché tree and swirling grey-on-white floor pattern (courtesy of scenic designer Richard Colman) lend a psychedelic accent to the famously barren landscape inhabited by Vladimir (Keith Burkland) and Estragon (Jack Halton) in this production of the Samuel Beckett play by newcomers Tides Theatre. Director (and Tides' producing artistic director) Jennifer Welch layers the avant-garde classic with some audio accents as well (although Jon Bernson's minimalist industrial soundscape is a bit low in the mix to be very effective). More compelling is the gentle, sad humor and couched intelligence captured expertly by Halton in the circular but deliberate rhythms of his hapless tramp. Burkland as pal Vladimir exudes a palpable presence as well, though lacks the same focus. Timing is all in vaudeville — the parallel universe from whence these tangible modernist archetypes hail — as well as in a play whose plot goes intentionally nowhere, or rather loops back on itself in an implied dance with eternity. The halting aspect to Tides' staging gets compounded with the arrival of brash whip-cracker Pozzo (a suitably stentorian but inconsistent Duane Lawrence) and his pitiful slave Lucky (a haunted, generally sharp Renzo Ampuero, made up to look like a goth doll à la some Tim Burton movie). That said, the best moments here broadcast the brooding beauty of the play, with its purposely vague but readily familiar world of viciousness, servility, trauma, want, fear, grudging compassion, and the daring, fragile humor that can look it all squarely in the eye. (Avila)
Arms and the Man Lesher Center for the Arts, Margaret Lesher Theater, 1601 Civic, Walnut Creek; (925) 943-7469, www.centerrep.org. $38-43. Wed, 7:30pm; Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2:30pm. Through Feb 25. Center REPertory Company presents George Bernard Shaw's classic romantic comedy.
Body Awareness Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org. $34-55. Previews Wed/1, 8pm. Opens Thurs/2, 8pm. Runs Tues, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through March 4. Aurora Theatre performs Annie Baker's comedy.
Ghost Light Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org. $14.50-73. Tues, Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat and Feb 16, 2pm); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through Feb 19. Berkeley Rep performs Tony Taccone's world-premiere play about George Moscone's assassination, directed by the late San Francisco mayor's son, Jonathan Moscone.
*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. 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 Pitmen Painters TheatreWorks at Mountain View Center for the Arts, 500 Castro, SF; (650) 463-1960, www.theatreworks.org. $19-69. Tues-Wed, 7:30pm; Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Feb 12. TheatreWorks performs a new comedy from the author of Billy Elliot about a group of British miners who become art world sensations.
The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh Berkeley, TheaterStage, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 826-5750, www.themarsh.org. $8-50. Extended run: Feb 12, 19, 26, March 11, and 18, 11am. Louis "The Amazing Bubble Man" Pearl returns with this kid-friendly, bubble-tastic comedy.
"Cabaret of Love" Stage Werx, 446 Valencia, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Mon, 7 and 9pm. $15. Picklewater Clown Cabaret performs in celebration of Valentine's Day.
Company C Contemporary Ballet Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF; (415) 978-2787. Feb 17, 8pm; Feb 18, 6:30pm (gala benefit); and Feb 19, 3pm. $23-175. The company opens its 10th anniversary season.
"Elect to Laugh" Studio Theater, Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. Tues, 8pm. Ongoing through Nov 6. $15-50. Will Durst and friends perform in this weekly political humor show that focuses on the upcoming presidential election.
"The Eric Show" Milk Bar, 1840 Haight, SF; www.milksf.com. Tues, 8pm (ongoing). $5. Local comedians perform with host Eric Barry.
"Fortunate Daughter" Stage Werx, 446 Valencia, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Sun/5, March 4, April 1, May 6, 7pm. $20. Thao P. Nguyen performs her solo show about being caught between her family and her friends in the queer community.
"The Mandrake" Hastings Studio Theater, 77 Geary, SF; (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org. Wed/1-Sat/4 and Feb 8-11, 7:30pm. $15. American Conervatory Theater's MFA class of 2013 performs Machiavelli's 16th century satire of Italian society.
"The News" Somarts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan, SF; www.somarts.org. Tues/7, 7:30pm. $5. This new monthly queer performance series highlights new and experimental works and works in progress. "Precious Drop: African and Afro-Fusion Dance, Music, and Theater" CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; 1-800-350-8850, www.counterpulse.org. Fri/3-Sat/4, 8pm. $20. Mohamed Lamine Bangoura with Jaara Dance and Drum and Bu Falle African Drum and Dance present a work-in-progress about the global importance of water. BAY AREA "Cordelia, Mein Kind" TheaterStage at Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. Thurs/2-Fri/3, 8pm; Sat/4, 5pm; Sun/5, 3pm. $15-50. The Marsh Berkeley collaborates with the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life to present this multimedia Australian import by Deborah Leiser-Moore. "The Second Sin Again..." Black Repertory Group Theater, 3201 Adeline, Berk; www.punanytickets.com. Sat/4, 7pm. $25. Punany Poets perform a mix of erotic poetry, dance, comedy, and theater.