Stage Listings May 9-15, 2012
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.
"DIVAfest" Exit Theatreplex, 156 Eddy, SF; (415) 673-3847, www.theexit.org. $15-25. May 9-27. Three solo shows, plus singer-songwriters, readings, and art displays, highlight this festival honoring female artists.
Endgame and Play American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary, SF; (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org. $10-95. Previews Wed/9-Sat/12 and Tue/15, 8pm (also Sat/12, 2pm). Opens May 16, 8pm. Runs Tue-Sat, 8pm (also Wed, Sat-Sun, 2pm; no matinees Wed/9, Sun/13, May 16, or May 23; May 22 performance at 7pm). Through June 3. ACT presents two absurd dark comedies by Samuel Beckett.
A Raisin in the Sun Buriel Clay Theater, African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton, SF; 1-800-838-2006, www.african-americanshakes.org. $10-35. Opens Sat/12, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm (no show May 25); Sun, 3pm. Through May 27. African-American Shakespeare Company performs Lorraine Hansberry's classic drama.
The Odyssey Angel Island; (415) 547-0189, www.weplayers.org. $40-76 (some tickets include ferry passage). Opens Sat/12, 10:30am-4pm (does not include travel time to island). Runs Sat-Sun and Fri/18, May 25, and June 1, 10:30am-4pm. Through July 1. We Players present Ava Roy's adaptation of Homer's epic poem: an all-day adventure set throughout the nature and buildings of Angel Island State Park.
Act One, Scene Two Phoenix Arts Association Theatre, 414 Mason, Ste 601, SF; www.un-scripted.com. $10-20. Thu/10-Sat/12, 8pm. Un-Scripted Theater Company performs the beginning of a new, unfinished play by a local author — and creates an ending on the spot once the script runs out.
"Bay One Acts Festival" Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma, SF; www.bayoneacts.org. $25-45. Wed/9-Sat/12, 8pm (also Sat/12, 3pm). Ten bold and adventurous short plays by local playwrights, performed two full programs running in repertory.
Down to This Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy, SF; www.sleepwalkerstheatre.com. $12-20. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through May 26. Thirty-something Charlie (Derek Fischer) plays this little game with himself where he tosses a rotten egg at the kitchen trash as if he were making a free-throw in sudden-death overtime. This little moment, innocent and ordinary on the surface, puzzles one-night stand Donna (Tonya Narvaez) after she happens on the scene. That she would be baffled, even momentarily disturbed by so common a flight of sports-dude imagination is our first taste of the strained mechanics of Adam Chanzit's slight pulp revenge tale: sure enough, this game of chance turns out to be a (pretty ridiculous) psychopathology ruling Charlie's world. When a moment later his equally imbalanced and estranged wife (Kendra Lee Oberhauser), fresh from prison and packing heat, bursts in on the two lovebirds, Charlie's fate-game will become the tortured trope in a table-turning showdown between all three — plus Charlie's hapless roommate (Jomar Tagatac) and his crew-cut–sporting sidekick (Shane Rhoades). Chanzit offers some mild surprises and amusing banter along the way in Sleepwalkers' world premiere — helmed by artistic director Tore Ingersoll-Thorp — but the plot and characters are stretched thin, and the tension often grows slack despite the able and likable cast. By the time the story climaxes in a coin-toss of an ending (designed to work out one of two ways, depending), it's too big a muddle to generate more than a momentary quiver of anticipation over anybody's fate. (Avila)
Fwd: Life Gone Viral Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Thu, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through June 10. The internet becomes comic fodder for creator-performers Charlie Varon and Jeri Lynn Cohen, and creator-director David Ford.
*Hot Greeks Hypnodrome Theatre, 575 10th St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $30-35. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Extended through May 19. Cheap thrills don't come much cheaper or more thrilling than at a Thrillpeddlers musical extravaganza, and their newly remounted run of Hot Greeks affords all the glitter-dusted eye-candy and labyrinthian plot points we've come to expect from their gleefully exhibitionist ranks. Structured as loosely as possible on Aristophanes' Lysistrata, Greeks appropriately enough follows the trials and tribulations of a college sorority tired of "losing" their boyfriends to the big football match every year (Athens U vs. Sparta Tech). Pledging to withhold sex from the men unless they call off the game results in frustration for all, only partially alleviated by the discovery that sexual needs can be satisfied by "playing the other team," as it were. But like other Cockettes' revivals presented by the Thrillpeddlers, the momentum of the show is carried forward not by the rather thinly-sketched narrative, but by the group song-and-dance numbers, extravagant costuming (and lack thereof), ribald wordplay, and overt gender-fuckery. In addition to many TP regulars, including a hot trio of Greek columns topped with "capital" headdresses who serve as the obligatory chorus (Steven Satyricon, Ste Fishell, Bobby Singer), exciting new additions to the Hypnodrome stage include a bewigged Rik Lopes as stalwart sister Lysistrata, angelically-voiced Maggie Tenenbaum as the not-so-angelic Sodoma, and multi-faceted cabaret talent Tom Orr as heartthrob hunk Pendulum Pulaski. (Gluckstern)
It's All the Rage Studio Theater, Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thu, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm, Sun, 7pm. Extended through May 27. 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 San Francisco. (Avila)
Killing My Lobster Chops Down the Family Tree TJT, 470 Florida, SF; www.killingmylobster.com. $10-22. Thu/10-Fri/11, 8pm; Sat/12, 7 and 10pm; Sun/13, 7pm. The sketch comedy troupe performs a new show inspired by contemporary families.
"San Francisco International Arts Festival" Various venues, SF; www.sfiaf.org. Free-$70. Through May 20. Performance festival featuring theater and dance from Cuba, Iran, Russia, the U.S., China, Japan, Estonia, and more.
Tenderloin Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor, SF; (415) 525-1205, www.cuttingball.com. $10-50. Thu, 7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 5pm. Through May 27. Annie Elias and Cutting Ball Theater artists present a world premiere "documentary theater" piece looking at the people and places in the Cutting Ball Theater's own 'hood.
To Be Young, Gifted and Black: Honoring Lorraine Hansberry In Her Own Words Gough Street Playhouse, Trinity Episcopal Church, 1620 Gough, SF; www.custommade.org. $22-28. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through May 27. Custom Made Theater and Multi Ethnic Theater collaborate on this tribute to the groundbreaking playwright.
The Waiting Period MainStage, Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Extended through July 7. 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)
The Wrong Dick Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission, SF; www.darkroomsf.com. $20. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through May 26. Ham Pants Productions presents a noir-inspired comedy set in San Francisco.
Zorba Eureka Theater, 215 Jackson, SF; (415) 255-8207, www.42ndstmoon.org. $20-50. Wed, 7pm; Thu-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm; Sun, 3pm. Through May 20. 42nd Street Moon performs Kander and Ebb's musical salute to Greece.
Anatol Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org. $30-55. Wed/9-Sat/12, 8pm; Sun/13, 2 and 7pm. Aurora Theatre Company performs a world premiere translation of Arthur Schnitzler's drama about the love life of an Viennese philanderer.
Crevice La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; www.impacttheatre.com. $10-20. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through June 9. Impact Theatre and PlayGround present Lauren Yee's world premiere play about 20-something siblings whose couch-potato lives are uprooted when a chasm opens up in their living room.
A Hot Day in Ephesus Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; email@example.com. $12-15. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun/13, 2pm. Through May 19. Actors Ensemble performs the world premiere of a musical based on Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.
In Paris Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org. $22.50-125. Wed/9, 7pm; Thu/10-Sat/12, 8pm (also Sat/12, 2pm); Sun/13, 2pm. Mikhail Baryshnikov stars in Dmitry Krymov's romantic new play.
*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. Extended through June 10. 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)
Lucky Duck Julia Morgan Theatre, 2640 College, Berk; www.berkeleyplayhouse.org. $17-35. Thu/10-Sat/12, 7pm (also Sat/12, 2pm); Sun/13, noon and 5pm. Berkeley Playhouse performs a musical inspired by the "Ugly Duckling" tale.
Not Getting Any Younger Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through May 19. 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. Note: review from the show's 2011 run at the Marsh San Francisco. (Avila)
Oleanna Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; www.theatrefirst.com. $15-30. Thu/10-Sat/12, 8pm; Sun/13, 5pm. TheatreFIRST performs David Mamet's tense two-charater drama.
Red Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org. $14.50-83. Wed/9, 7pm; Thu/10-Fri/11, 8pm; Sat/12, 2pm. Mark Rothko (David Chandler) isn't the only one painting with a broad brush in this labored and ultimately superficial two-hander by John Logan, enjoying a competent but underwhelming production by outgoing Berkeley Rep associate artistic director Les Waters. Set inside the late-1950s New York studio of the legendary abstract expressionist at the height of his fame, the play introduces a blunt and brash young painter named Ken (John Brummer) as Rothko's new hired hand, less a character than a crude dramatic device, there first as a sounding board for the pompous philosophizing that apparently comprises a good chunk of the artist's process and finally as a kind of mirror held up to the old iconoclast in challenging proximity to a new generation that must ultimately transcend Rothko's canvases in turn. The dialogue holds up signs announcing intellectual and aesthetic depths but these remain surface effects, reflecting only platitudes, while the posturing tends to reduce Rothko to caricature. Much of the self-consciously reluctant filial interaction here smacks of biographical sound bites or heavy-handed underscoring of theme, and tends toward the outright hokey when touching on the credulity-bending subject of Ken's murdered parents — with the attendant shades this adds to Rothko's and the play's chosen color palette. (Avila)
The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh Berkeley, TheaterStage, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 826-5750, www.themarsh.org. $8-50. Extended run: 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.
BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; www.improv.org. Fri, 8pm, through May 25: "Director's Cut!," $20. Sat, 8pm, through May 26: "Improvised Murder Mystery," $20.
"Bijoux: Seven-Year Beeyotch!" Martuni's, Four Valencia, SF; (415) 241-0205. Sun/13, 7pm. $7. Trauma Flintstone hosts an eclectic queer variety show with a Mother's Day theme.
"Comedy Returns to El Rio" El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; www.elriosf.com. Mon/14, 8pm. $7-20. With comedians Shazia Mirza, Marga Gomez, Jeff Applebaum, Brendan Lynch, and Lisa Geduldig.
"Elect to Laugh" Studio Theater, Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. Tue, 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.
"Feast of Words: A Literary Potluck" SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan, SF; feastofwords.somarts.org. Tue/15, 7pm. $5-12. With author Cassie J. Sneider and culinary guest Kuukua Dzigbordi Yomekpe.
"A Funny Night for Comedy" Actors Theatre of San Francisco, 855 Bush, SF; (415) 345-1287, www.natashamuse.com. Sun/13, 7pm. $10. Mother's Day is the theme of this comedy showcase.
"Let Me Entertain You" Venetian Room, Fairmont San Francisco, 950 Mason, SF; www.bayareacabaret.org. Sat/12, 8pm. $45. Tony winner Laura Benanti performs her solo cabaret.
"Listen to Your Mother San Francisco" Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; (415) 345-7575, www.listentoyourmothershow.com. Thu/10, 7pm. $25. 826 Valencia benefits from this reading event fearuting 12 local writers sharing stories of motherhood.
"Second Sundays" CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; www.counterpulse.org. Sun/13, 2-4pm. Free. Works-in-progress showings from Deborah Karp Dance Projects, detour dance, and Sarah Keeney/floating rib dance project.