Stage Listings May 16-22, 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.
My Tia Loca's Life of Crime Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $20. Opens Thu/17, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through June 2. Guerrilla Rep performs a new play by Roy Conboy, chair of SF State's Playwriting Department.
The Great Divide Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $20-30. Previews Wed/16-Thu/17 and May 23-24, 7pm; Fri/18-Sat/19, 8pm; Sun/20, 5pm. Opens May 25, 8pm. Runs Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through June 24. Shotgun Players performs Adamn Chanzit's drama about the hot topic of fracking, inspired by Ibsen's An Enemy of the People.
"Best of PlayGround 16: A Festival of New Writers and New Plays" Thick House, 1695 18th St, SF; www.playground-sf.org. $10-40. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through May 27. Seven short plays and musicals by Bay Area authors, plus a staged-readings series.
"DIVAfest" Exit Theatreplex, 156 Eddy, SF; (415) 673-3847, www.theexit.org. $15-25. Through May 27. Entering its second decade, the estrogen-centric DIVAfest at the Exit is so jam-packed with activities — workshops, burlesque, symposiums, readings, singer-songwriter nights — you'd be forgiven for not realizing that plays are also on the menu. But in fact, they are the main course. This year's smorgasbord features three very different solo shows, each encapsulating a wholly unique female voice. Genevieve Jessee's Girl in, but not of, the 'Hood, which won a "Best of the Fringe Festival" award in 2011, has since been reworked with a new director, Exit Theatre stalwart Michelle Talgarow, rendering it sharper and more comic without minimizing the inner turmoil experienced by the main character, Jessee herself. Catherine Debon's Alma Colarada, which also won a "Best of the Fringe" in 2011, is an emotionally-charged, experimental roller-coaster ride that appropriately begins and ends on a train. Detailing a family history fraught with World War II resistance fighting, concentration camps, communist sympathies, and endless trains, Debon nimbly vacillates between the neuroses of the present day and the deep despair of the past, while still finding a way to end to piece on a triumphal note. Last but by no means least, the laugh-out-loud romantic farce Pussy, by Maura Halloran, details the tricky intricacies of a lesbian-feline-nosy neighbor ménage à "cat-re". Yes, it's about a cat ... hmmm, or is it? You should really take the opportunity to find out. (Gluckstern)
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)
Endgame and Play American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary, SF; (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org. $10-95. Opens Wed/16, 8pm. Runs Tue-Sat, 8pm (also Wed, Sat-Sun, 2pm; no matinees Wed/16 or May 23; Tues/22 performance at 7pm). Through June 3. ACT presents two absurd dark comedies by Samuel Beckett.
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/17-Sat/19, 8pm. 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)
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. Fri-Sat, 8pm (no show May 25); Sun, 3pm. Through May 27. African-American Shakespeare Company performs Lorraine Hansberry's classic drama.
"San Francisco International Arts Festival" Various venues, SF; www.sfiaf.org. Free-$70. Through Sun/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/16, 7pm; Thu/17-Fri/18, 8pm; Sat/19, 6pm; Sun/20, 3pm. 42nd Street Moon performs Kander and Ebb's musical salute to Greece.
Crevice La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; www.impacttheatre.com. $10-20. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through June 9. Just in case you were feeling panicked about the persistently recessed state of the economy and what might be your own less than ideal place in it, the Impact Theatre and Playground co-presentation of Lauren Yee's Crevice might help to put your woes into perspective. That's because slacker sibs Liz (Marissa Keltie) and Rob (Timothy Redmond) are only slightly exaggerated representatives of Generation Next whose penchant for making lackluster life choices has sentenced them to an indefinite prison term of couch-surfing and Teen Mom marathons in their childhood home. Naturally, they desire change, but it's not until their mother (Laura Jane Bailey) starts having a hot fling with a younger man that things do. In an egregious breach of the TMI line, it appears that Mom's orgasms open a "crevice" into an alternate reality that Rob and Liz subsequently fall into. Thus removed from the entropy of their former reality they begin testing the parameters of their new one, quickly coming to the realization that sometimes the alternatives to what you already have are even worse. Getting home again is a convoluted, not fully mapped-out process, but in the interim, their navigation of their erstwhile wonderland offers most of the play's best lines as well as the uncomfortably effective transformation of Reggie D. White from Liz's nerdish best buddy to multi-lingual Mafia killer and casual sadist. (Gluckstern) (Gluckstern)
A Hot Day in Ephesus Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; email@example.com. $12-15. Fri/18-Sat/19, 8pm. Actors Ensemble performs the world premiere of a musical based on Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.
*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)
Not Getting Any Younger Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Extended through June 30. 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)
The Odyssey Angel Island; (415) 547-0189, www.weplayers.org. $40-76 (some tickets include ferry passage). Sat-Sun, May 25, and June 1, 10:30am-4pm (does not include travel time to island). 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.
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.
"A Celebration of Harold Pinter" Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri/18-Sat/19, 7:30pm. $30. John Malkovich directs Julian Sands in this tribute to the famed author and playwright.
"Chanticleer and the Fox: Nun's Priest's Tale" Seventh Avenue Performances, 1329 Seventh Ave, SF; www.chaucertheater.org. Sat/19, 7:30pm. $20. Also Sun/20, 2pm, Christ Presbyterian Church, 620 del Ganado, San Rafael. Chaucer Theatre performs musical theater inspired by Canturbury Tales.
City Ballet School Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; www.fortmason.org. Sat/19-Sun/20, 2pm. $28. "Spring Showcase" featuring new choreography by Yuri Zhukov.
"Die Blonde Cabaret" Stage Werx Theatre, 446 Valencia, SF; www.stagewerx.org. Mon/21, 6:30pm. $5. Stand-up and burlesque performer Marié Lake presents her comedy cabaret.
"Drinking/Songs: A Night of Beer and the Music That Goes With It" 50 Mason Social House, 50 Mason, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Wed/16, 8pm. $20. Singing, beer-drinking, a drinking-songs competition, and more.
"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.
"The Heart of Mexico" Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Novellus Theater, 700 Howard, SF; (415) 978-2787, www.ybca.org. Sun/20, 3pm. $20-39. Folkloric dance from Mexico performed by the acclaimed Compañia Mazatlán Bellas Artes.
"The Keys to Heaven" Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor, SF; www.cuttingball.com. Sun/20, 1pm. Free. Cutting Ball Theater presents this August Strindberg reading as part of its "Hidden Classics" series.
"Low Down" Z Space, Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, SF; www.levydance.org. Thu/17-Fri/19, 8pm; Sat/20, 2pm. $18-25. LEVYdance and the Foundry present a world premiere collaboration exploring the body's ability to tell a story.
"Man vs. Wild: Tales of the Great Outdoors!" Intersection for the Arts, 925 Mission, SF; www.litupwriters.com. Wed/16, 7:30pm. $7. Humor reading with the LitUp Writers.
"Martini Cabaret Burlesque" Biscuits and Blues, 401 Mason, SF; www.eventbrite.com. Sun/20, 6pm. $20. Tasteful striptease with costumes and props.
"Porchlight Storytelling Series: I Surrender" Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Mon/21, 8pm. $15. True tales with Harold Atkins, Dennis Collinson, Heather Gold, and more.
"Previously Secret Information" Stage Werx Theatre, 446 Valencia, SF; www.stagewerx.org. Sun/20, 7pm. $15. Storytelling with Paul Myers, Josh Healey, and Joe Klocek.
"Qcomedy Showcase" Stage Werx Theatre, 446 Valencia, SF; www.stagewerx.org. Mon/21, 8pm. $8-20. With Lisa Geduldig, Matina Bevis, and more.
"Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts 30th Year Anniversary Dance Concert" Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon, SF; www.sfsota.org. Fri/18-Sat/19, 8pm. $18-28. Student dancers, guests, and artists in residence perform to celebrate the 30th anniversary of this arts and educational institution.
"Smack Dab" Magnet, 4122 18th St, SF; www.magnetsf.org. Wed/16, 8pm. Free. Open mic with featured reader Jai Arun Ravine.
"Tales of Pangu: Lifting Up the Sky" CounterPulse, 1310 Mission, SF; www.counterpulse.org. Sat/19, 8pm. $10-20. Eth-Noh-Tec storytelling theater and Gay Asian Pacific Alliance present this multimedia performance collaboration.
"The Vagina Monologues" Castro Theatre, 429 Castro, SF; (415) 621-6120. Thu/17, 7:30pm. $30. A one-night-only performance in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
"Verbatim Verboten" Garage, 715 Bryant, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri/18-Sat/19, 8pm. $15. The "invasion-of-privacy revue" created by Michael Martin and hosted by Wonder Dave Crady.
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