Stage Listings


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 For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.



Any Given Day Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; $20-60. Previews Thurs/29-Sat/31 and April 4-7, 8pm (also April 7, 2:30pm); Sun/1 and April 8, 2:30pm; Tues/3 and April 10, 7pm. Opens April 11, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm (also April 21, 2:30pm); Sun, 2:30pm; Tues, 7pm. Through April 22. Magic Theatre performs Linda McLean's Glasgow-set play about modern, urban life.

Maple and Vine American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary, SF; (415) 749-2228, $10-95. Previews Thurs/29-Sat/31 and Tues/3, 8pm (also Sat/31, 2pm). Opens April 4, 8pm. Runs Tues-Sat, 8pm (April 10, show at 7pm); Wed and Sat-Sun, 2pm (no matinees Sun/1 or April 4); April 15, show at 7pm). Through April 22. ACT performs the West Coast premiere of Jordan Harrison's play about a 21st century couple drawn into a community of people who live as if it's the 1950s.


*The Aliens SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter, SF; (415) 677-9596, $20-70. Tues-Thurs, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through May 5. On the heels of Aurora Theatre's production of Body Awareness, SF Playhouse introduces local audiences to another of contemporary American playwright Annie Baker's acclaimed plays, in a finely tailored West Coast premiere directed by Lila Neugebauer. The Aliens unfolds in the days just around July 4, at slacker pace, in the backyard of a Vermont café (lovingly realized to palpable perfection by scenic designer Bill English), daily haunt of scruffy, post-Beat dropouts and sometime band mates Jasper (a secretly brooding but determined Peter O'Connor) and KJ (a charmingly ingenuous yet mischievous Haynes Thigpen). New employee and high school student Evan (a winningly eager and reticent Brian Miskell) is at first desperate to get the interlopers out of the "staff only" backyard but is just lonely enough to be seduced into friendship and wary idolatry by the older males. What unfolds is a small, sweet and unexpected tale of connection and influence, amid today's alienated dream-sucking American landscape — same as it ever was, if you ask Charles Bukowski or Henry Miller, both points of reference to Jasper and KJ, who borrow Bukowski's poem The Aliens for one of their many band names. An appropriate name for the alienated, sure, but part of the charm of these characters is just how easy they are to recognize, or how much we can recognize ourselves in them. Delusions of grandeur reside in every coffee house across this wistful, restless land. It's not just Jasper and KJ who may be going nowhere. A final gesture to the young and awkward but clearly capable Evan suggests, a little ambiguously to be sure, that there's promise out there yet for some. But more than that: the transaction makes clear by then that there are no fuck-ups, really; not among people with generous and open hearts — never mind how fucked up the country at large. (Avila)

A Bright Room Called Day Gough Street Playhouse, 1620 Gough, SF; $25-32. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through April 8. Custom Made Theatre performs Tony Kushner's drama set in Berlin just before the Nazi takeover.

"Celebration of Women's History Month:" The Right Thing Thick House, 1695 18th St, SF; $30. Fri/30-Sat/31, 8pm; Sun/1, 4pm. Over one long day of legal mediation, aggrieved former CEO Zell Gardner (a brash but vulnerable Catherine Castellanos) and attorney Manny Diamond (a sharp, loquacious Louis Parnell) square off against Zell's former Big Pharma pals headed up by vindictive interim CEO David Heller (a coolly cutting Lol Levy) flanked by Zell's longtime colleague Chris McKnight (a nicely down-to-earth John Flanagan). Zell's lawyer becomes increasingly ambivalent, however, as Manny discovers his tough, brassy mess of a pill-popping client has been less than forthcoming about the charge of sexual harassment the other side is using to justify her dismissal and the company's pocketing of the three million Zell expected as compensation — a charge involving Zell's 19-year-old goddaughter, Sam (Karina Wolfe). Attempting to reconcile the parties and broker a deal is retired judge Leigh Mansfield (Helen Shumaker), but she has her work cut out for her with this crowd. AJ Baker's new drama — the inaugural production of newcomers 3Girls Theatre — take issues of sexual politics and power in its high-powered setting and cracks them against the everyday familial and social dynamics that are perhaps a casualty of the corporate ethos, but without opening them up to a satisfactory degree. Director Suze M. Allen assembles a generally strong cast (Castellanos is riveting throughout), and some scenes smolder with just the right teeth-baring tension, but pacing is inconsistent and the script's own wayward drift — together with an odd, unnecessary video backdrop—distract from the concentrated treatment the story demands. (Avila)

Certitude and Joy Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth St, SF; $25-35. Thurs/29-Sun/1, 8pm. In his latest chamber opera, composer Erling Wold (Queer, Mordake) uses his own memories of growing up in an evangelical household, and the harrowing incident in 2005 in which an Oakland mother (played by Talya Patrick) murdered her three children and threw them into the Bay on orders from God, to explore the dark attraction of religious certainty. Surprisingly, while this seems to be among Wold's most personal works (he even participates intermittently as a character), it is one of his less inspired musically. The score for voices and two pianos (delivered with clarity and finesse by soprano Laura Bohn, baritone Jo Vincent Parks, and pianists Keisuke Nakagoshi and Eva-Marie Zimmerman) is often lovely, but it rarely achieves either the transcendence or dissonance seemingly called for by the libretto. And while the performers (directed by Jim Cave and including actor Robert Ernst and dancers Kerry Mehling and Travis Rowland) deliver the story charmingly, something is lost in the move away from a single narrator. The multiplying of voices may make thematic sense — schizophrenia, religious inspiration, a doubling of stories, and a kind of communal complicity all being operative — but the text is finally divvied up between too many performers and styles of delivery to feel cohesive or even, at times, coherent. Perhaps equally problematic is the overture, which gives away so much that there is little tension or suspense in the story that follows, let alone revelation. (Avila)

*Fool For Love Boxcar Studios, 125A Hyde, SF; $25. Showtimes vary. Through April 14. Another installment of Boxcar Theatre's epic Sam Shepard repertory project, Fool for Love inaugurates their newest performance space within their Hyde Street Studios location. A depressingly realistic reproduction of a claustrophobic motel room, the tiny jewel-box theatre provides no refuge for the actors, and certainly not for the audience, each trapped beneath the pitiless gaze of the other. And if that too-close-for-comfort intimacy doesn't get to you, the intentionally difficult subject matter — a "typical" Shepardian foray into alcohol-fueled ranting, violence, incest, and casual cruelty — probably will. Shepard's strength in monologue shows itself off to meaty effect from May's (Lauren Doucette) melancholy description of her mother's love affair with the Old Man (Jeff Garrett) to Eddie's (Brian Trybom) candid admittance to May's timid suitor Martin (Geoffrey Nolan) that he and May are not cousins at all but half-siblings who have "fooled around" with each other. In addition to the reliably strong performances from each of the actors, Fool features a notably clever bit of staging involving the Old Man who appears not as a specter wandering the periphery of the stage, but as a recurring figure on the black-and-white television, interrupting the flow of cheesy Westerns with his garrulous trailer park wisdom and an omnipresent Styrofoam cup filled, one suspects, with something stronger than just coffee. (Gluckstern)

*Glengarry Glen Ross Actors Theatre of San Francisco, 855 Bush, SF; (415) 345-1287, $26-40. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Extended through April 28. Actors Theatre of San Francisco and director Keith Phillips offer a sharp, spirited production of the 1984 play by David Mamet in which four real estate agents (Mark Bird, Sean Hallinan, John Krause, and Christian Phillips) jockey and scheme for advantage in their Chicago office in a landscape of insecurity and fierce competition symbolized by the selective doling out of the best leads by manager and company man John (Frank Willey). Clients (like the gullible young husband played by Randy Blair), meanwhile, are just witless marks for the machinations of the predatory salesman, no more meaningfully human than the "muppets" targeted by Greg Smith's Goldman Sachs. If the scenic design is a little shabby, the strong cast makes that hardly an impediment to a story that feels especially timely in its sharply etched, not to say angry portrait of the ruthless and corrosive business mentality to which egos, livelihoods, and lives — not to mention the culture at large — are enthralled. (Avila)

Hot Greeks Hypnodrome Theatre, 575 10th St, SF; $30-69. Opens Thurs/29, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through May 5. Thrillpeddlers launch a new version (new cast, songs, costumes, etc.) of the Cockettes classic by Scrumbly Koldewyn and Martin Worman.

It's All the Rage Studio Theater, Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, $15-50. Thurs, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm, Sun, 7pm. Through April 15. Longtime comedian and radio host Marilyn Pittman's solo play wrestles with the legacy of her parents' violent deaths in a 1997 murder-suicide initiated by her father. It's disturbing material that Pittman, a stout middle-aged woman with a gregarious and bounding personality, approaches indirectly via a good deal of humor — including recounting the first time she did her growing-up-lesbian bit before her mother in a DC comedy club. But the pain and confusion trailing her for 13 years is never far behind, whether in accounts of her own battle with anger (and the broken relationships it has left in its wake) or in ominous memories of her too complacent mother or her charming but domineering father, whose controlling behavior extended to casually announcing murderous dreams while policing the boundaries of his marriage against family interference. A fine mimic, Pittman deploys a Southern lilt in playing each parent, on a stage decorated with a hint of their Southwestern furnishings and a framed set of parental photographs. In not exactly knowing where to lay blame for, or find meaning in, such a horrifying act, the play itself mimics in subtler form the emotional tumult left behind. There's a too brief but eerie scene in which her veteran father makes reference to a murder among fellow soldiers en route to war, but while PTSD is mentioned (including as an unwanted patrimony), the 60-minute narrative crafted by Pittman and director David Ford wisely eschews any pat explanation. If transitions are occasionally awkward and the pace a bit loose, the play leaves one with an uncomfortable sense of the darker aspects of love, mingled with vague concentric histories of trauma and dislocation in a weird, sad tale of destruction and staying power. Note: review from the show's 2009 run at the Marsh. (Avila)

Julius Caesar Buriel Clay Theater, African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton, SF; 1-800-838-3006, $10-30. Sat/31, 8pm; Sun/1, 4pm. Ever since there have been politicians there have been political intrigues, making it completely possible to take a play written around 1599 about Roman politicians in 44 BC, and present it as a thoroughly modern coup d'état with very little alteration. In the African-American Shakespeare Company's compact adaptation of Julius Caesar, ancient Rome becomes a modern African nation, evoked sparingly by crumbling cement, untamed foliage, camouflage uniforms, and crudely menacing machetes. The overblown syntax of Shakespearean English lends itself particularly well to the heavy West African accents utilized by the actors — most successfully by B. Chico Purdiman, as surprisingly sympathetic assassination mastermind Cassius — and the constant upheavals of public opinion and political influence could be ripped right from the headlines of certain restless regions. The small ensemble cast makes the best of their streamlined numbers to create as big a ruckus as possible during crowd scenes, but having them running around the aisles of the Buriel Clay Theater unfortunately dilutes the power of their limited mass. But excellent performances are rendered unto Caesar by Purdiman and David Moore, who plays co-conspirator Brutus, while Frederick Pitts' Mark Anthony skillfully delivers a eulogy full of slyly self-serving political double-speak worthy of any modern tyrant-in-waiting. (Gluckstern)

*A Lie of the Mind Boxcar Playhouse, 505 Natoma, SF; $25. Showtimes vary. Through April 14. Sam Shepard's three-act drama is streaked with humor, horror and heartbreak, all of it arising from the most mundane but also extraordinary of things, love and family. That's Shepard territory, of course, as surely as is the rowdy backwater of the American West where much of the play unfolds. But seeing the exceptionally sharp and powerful production currently up at Boxcar Theatre under direction of Susannah Martin — in the midst of Boxcar's mostly terrific four-play Shepard fest that includes his better known Pulitzer-winner, Buried Child (1979) — suggests 1985's Lie may cut deeper than most. It begins in the immediate aftermath of a vicious episode of domestic abuse, from which the married couple of Beth (Megan Trout) and Jake (Joe Estlack) flies apart and back into the ambivalent arms of their mutually dysfunctional families (played wonderfully by Carolyn Doyle, Marissa Keltie, Tim Redmond, Katja Rivera, Josh Schell, and Don Wood). Trout's brain-damaged Beth is a wrenching figure, not merely for her confusion and vulnerability but more so for the certainty and determination that make their way from her heart through the prison bars of her hampered mind. As Jake, Estlack is doing some of his finest work, convincingly incarnating a veritable beast whose roaring, roiling emotions sound the loneliest and most desolate of souls within. Martin's intelligent staging — aided by Steve Decker's beautifully spare wood-plank set, Lucas Krech's moody lighting, and a choice, eerie sound design by Teddy Hulsker — adds tangible weight and texture to the play's radiant dialogue and engrossing characters, realized by one of the finest ensemble casts all year. (Avila)

The Real Americans Marsh Studio Theater, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, $25-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Extended through April 14. Dan Hoyle revives his hit solo show about small-town America.

The Rita Hayworth of this Generation Shotwell Studios, 3252-A 19th St, SF; $10-15. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through April 7. Writer and performer Tina D'Elia performs her solo, multi-character play about a queer Latina performer inspired by the legendary Hollywood goddess.

Sam Marlowe and the Mean Streets of San Francisco Stage Werx, 446 Valencia, SF; (415) 412-3989, $20. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through April 7. Catchy Name Theatre presents a world premiere noir play by Jim Strope.

Suicide in B Flat Stagewerx, 446 Valencia, SF; $15. Fri-Sat, 11pm. Through April 7. Sam Shepard is all over SF at the moment. Contributing to the four-play repertory program Boxcar Theatre has underway comes this lively if uneven production of a little seen Shepard work, a darkly comical jazz noir, by capable newcomers Do It Live, under direction of Will Hand. Suicide in B Flat (which features live musical underscoring by Grayson Converse) offers parallel stories overlapping on one stage, as two inept homicide detectives (Anthony Agresti and Hand) investigate the death of jazzman Niles, who may have been murdered or may have offed himself — or may be alive and well, since we soon meet Niles (a suitably charismatic and tentative Michael Saarela) heading out of town in a fitful, indecisive attempt at reinventing himself anew. As Niles's band mates begin showing up for a jam session, the detectives progressively lose their own sense of identity. There's a grim streak running through this existential who-dunnit, which sometimes comes across more like an existential what-the-fuck? But that too is a legit question in this in-between realm. (Avila)

*True West Boxcar Studios, 125A Hyde, SF; (415) 967-2227, $25. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through April 7. The first installment of Boxcar Theatre's four-play Sam Shepard repertory project, True West ushers in the ambitious run with a bang. This tale of two brothers who gradually assume the role of the other is one of Shepard's most enduring plays, rich with humorous interludes, veering sharply into dangerous terrain at the drop of a toaster. In time-honored, True West tradition, the lead roles of Austin, the unassuming younger brother, and Lee, his violent older sibling, are being alternated between Nick A. Olivero and Brian Trybom, and in a new twist, the role of the mother is being played by two different actresses as well (Adrienne Krug and Katya Rivera). The evening I saw it, Olivero was playing Austin, a writer banging away at his first screenplay, and Trybom was Lee, a troubled, alcoholic drifter who usurps his brother's Hollywood shot, and trashes their mother's home while trying to honor his as yet unwritten "contract". The chemistry between the two actors was a perfect blend of menace and fraternity, and the extreme wreckage they make of both the set (designed by both actors), and their ever-tenuous relationship, was truly inspired. (Gluckstern)

Waiting for Godot New venue: SF Playhouse Stage Two, 533 Sutter, SF; (415) 336-3522, $20-32. Thurs, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm. Extended through April 14. 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. The best moments here broadcast the brooding beauty of the avant-garde classic, 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)

The Waiting Period MainStage, Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, $15-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Extended through April 27. Brian Copeland (comedian, TV and radio personality, and creator-performer of the long-running solo play Not a Genuine Black Man) returns to the Marsh with a new solo, this one based on more recent and messier events in Copeland's life. The play concerns an episode of severe depression in which he considered suicide, going so far as to purchase a handgun — the title coming from the legally mandatory 10-day period between purchasing and picking up the weapon, which leaves time for reflections and circumstances that ultimately prevent Copeland from pulling the trigger. A grim subject, but Copeland (with co-developer and director David Ford) ensures there's plenty of humor as well as frank sentiment along the way. The actor peoples the opening scene in the gun store with a comically if somewhat stereotypically rugged representative of the Second Amendment, for instance, as well as an equally familiar "doood" dude at the service counter. Afterward, we follow Copeland, a just barely coping dad, home to the house recently abandoned by his wife, and through the ordinary routines that become unbearable to the clinically depressed. Copeland also recreates interviews he's made with other survivors of suicidal depression. Telling someone about such things is vital to preventing their worst outcomes, says Copeland, and telling his own story is meant to encourage others. It's a worthy aim but only a fitfully engaging piece, since as drama it remains thin, standing at perhaps too respectful a distance from the convoluted torment and alienation at its center. (Avila)


Cabaret Larkspur Café Theater (American Legion Hall Post 313), 500 Magnolia, Larkspur; $25-45. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm (no show April 8). Through April 15. Independent Cabaret Productions and Shakespeare at Stinson move their production of the Kander and Ebb classic from Fort Mason to the North Bay.

The Coast of Utopia: Voyage Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; $20-30. Wed-Thurs, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through April 29. Shotgun Players present Tom Stoppard's riff on pre-revolutionary Russia.

*The Kipling Hotel: True Misadventures of the Electric Pink '80s New venue: Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 282-3055, $20-50. Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Extended through May 6. 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)

Now Circa Then Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield, Palo Alto; (650) 463-1960, $19-69. Wed/28, 7:30pm; Thurs/29-Sat/31, 8pm (also Sat/31, 2pm); Sun/1, 2 and 7pm. TheatreWorks performs Carly Mensch's comedy about a romance that blooms between two historical re-enactors.

The Pirates of Penzance Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College, Berk; (510) 845-8542, $17-35. Fri/30-Sat/31, 7pm (also Sat/31, 2pm); Sun/1, noon and 5pm. Berkeley Playhouse performs the Gilbert and Sullivan classic, with the setting shifted to a futuristic city.

Red Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, $14.50-83. Tues and Thurs-Fri, 8pm (also Thurs/29 and April 26, 2pm; no show April 27); Wed, 7pm; Sat-Sun, 2pm (also Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm; no matinee Sat/31). Through April 29. Berkeley Rep performs John Logan's Tony Award-winning play about artist Mark Rothko.

Titus Andronicus La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; $10-20. Thurs/29-Sat/31, 8pm. Impact Theatre takes on the Bard's bloodiest tragedy.

The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh Berkeley, TheaterStage, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 826-5750, $8-50. Extended run: Sun/1, 11am. Also May 5-27 (Sat-Sun, 11am); June 3-July 15 (Sun, 11am). Louis "The Amazing Bubble Man" Pearl returns with this kid-friendly, bubble-tastic comedy.


"April Fools With Miss Coco Peru: There Comes a Time" Victoria Theater, 2961 16th St, SF; Sun/1, 7 and 9:30pm. $29.95. (Screening of Girls Will Be Girls, Sun/1, noon, $10). Acclaimed storyteller-monologist Clinton Leupp, a.k.a. Miss Coco Peru, performs his latest solo show, which he describes as "a night of pure fun with Coco."

"Club Chuckles" Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF; Sun/1, 7:30pm. $6. April Fool's Day comedy with Alex Koll, the exotic magic of Stallion!, and the Ultra Mega Virgins comedy tour.

"The Collection" Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy, SF; Sun/1 and April 8, 7pm; April 2-7 and 9-13, 8pm. $20-50. Theatrical magician Christian Cagigal debuts his brand-new, top-secret show.

"Computer Face" Garage, 975 Howard, SF; Fri/30-Sat/31, 8pm. $10-20. Kirk Read (How I Learned to Snap) performs his latest solo show.

"Dance Anywhere" Various locations; Fri/30, noon. Free. Join the global movement of folks who participate in this annual, public performance piece.

"Elect to Laugh" Studio Theater, Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, 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.

Jess Curtis/Gravity CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; Thurs/29-Sun/1, 8pm. $15-20. Gravity's performance series, Intercontinental Collaborations, presents Jess Meets Angus, a co-production with Silke Z./resistance created and performed by Jess Curtis and Angus Balbernie.

"Octopus's Garden" Alcove Theater, 414 Mason, Fifth Flr, SF; Sat, 8pm. Through April 7. $25-35. PianoFight performs Scott Herman's modern-family drama.

"Pilot 60" ODC Dance Commons, Studio B, 351 Shotwell, SF; Sat/31, 8pm; Sun/1, 7pm. $12. ODC's 60th (!) Pilot production showcases innovative contemporary work by emerging dance artists.

"The Return of the MF David Deery Show" Jon Good Annex, 401 Alabama, SF; Sat/31, 9pm. $5. David Deery performs music and stand-up.

"The Romaine Event Comedy Show" Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St, SF; Wed/28, 7:30pm. $10. Paco Romane's seventh-anniversary show features headliner Joe Klocek plus other Bay Area comedians, including Joe Tobin, Kaseem Bentley, and more.

"The Secret History of Love" Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF; Thurs/29-Sun/1, 8pm (also Sat/31-Sun/1, 4pm). $10-25. Sean Dorsey Dance performs a world premiere performance based on Dorsey's archival research and interviews with LGBT elders.

"Talks of the Vagina" Women's Building, 3543 18th St, SF; Fri/30, 7. $20. Proceeds from Yoni Ki Baat's Vagina Monologues-inspired performance benefit the Women's Building mural restoration project.