Stage Listings May 23-29, 2012

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

THEATER

OPENING

Othello Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $15-18. Opens Thu/26, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through June 9. Ninjaz of Drama performs Shakespeare's classic in a contemporary setting.

Slipping New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Previews Wed/23-Fri/25, 8pm. Opens Sat/26, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through July 1. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs Daniel Talbott's drama about a gay teen who finds new hope after a traumatic breakup.

BAY AREA

God of Carnage Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; www.marintheatre.org. $34-55. Previews Thu/24-Sat/26, 8pm; Sun/27, 7pm. Opens Tue/29, 8pm. Runs Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also June 2 and 16, 2pm; June 7, 1pm); Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through June 17. Marin Theatre Company performs Yasmina Reza's Tony-winning comedy about two sets of parents who meet after their children get into a schoolyard fight.

ONGOING

"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/24-Sat/26, 8pm; Sun/27, 7pm. 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 Sun/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/24-Sat/26, 8pm. 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. Tue-Sat, 8pm (also Wed, Sat-Sun, 2pm; no matinee Wed/23). 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.

It's All the Rage Studio Theater, Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thu/24, 8pm; Sat/26, 8:30pm, Sun/27, 7pm. 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)

My Tia Loca's Life of Crime Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $20. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through June 2. Guerrilla Rep performs a new play by Roy Conboy, chair of SF State's Playwriting Department.

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. Sat/26, 8pm; Sun/27, 3pm. African-American Shakespeare Company performs Lorraine Hansberry's classic drama.

Tenderloin Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor, SF; (415) 525-1205, www.cuttingball.com. $10-50. Thu/24, 7:30pm; Fri/25-Sat/26, 8pm (also Sat/26, 2pm); Sun/27, 5pm. 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/24-Sat/26, 8pm; Sun/27, 7pm. 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/24-Sat/26, 8pm. Ham Pants Productions presents a noir-inspired comedy set in San Francisco.

BAY AREA

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)

The Great Divide Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $20-30. Previews Wed/23-Thu/24, 7pm. Opens Fri/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.

*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, Fri/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. Sun/27, June 3, 10, 16, 24, and 30, 11am. Louis "The Amazing Bubble Man" Pearl returns with this kid-friendly, bubble-tastic comedy.

PERFORMANCE/DANCE

BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; www.improv.org. Fri/25, 8pm: "Director's Cut!," $20. Sat/26, 8pm: "Improvised Murder Mystery," $20.

"Bitter Melon" Dewey Monument, Union Square, Stockton at Geary, SF; www.pushdance.org. Fri/27-Mon/28, 8pm (or sundown). Free. Push Dance Company and Union Square Live present a world premiere by Raissa Simpson.

"Des Voix ... Found in Translation" Z Space, 450 Florida, SF; www.desvoixfestival.com. Fri/25-Sun/27, times vary. $20-75. Playwrights Foundation and Cultural Services of the Consulate General of France/SF present this first-ever festival of newly translated plays by vanguard French authors.

"Dionysian Festival" Mary Sano Studio of Duncan Dancing, 245 Fifth St, Ste 314, SF; (415) 357-1817, www.duncandance.org. Sat/26, 8pm; Sun/27, 6pm. $18. Mary Sano and her Duncan Dancers present the 15th annual festival honoring the birthday of modern dance pioneer Isadora Duncan. Program includes Duncan repertoire as well as new works by Sano.

"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.

"Litquake's Epicenter: A Night of Edith Piaf" Tosca Café, 242 Columbus, SF; www.litquake.org. Tue/29, 7pm. Free. Litquake and City Lights Books celebrate the French chanteuse with author Carolyn Burke (No Regrets: The Life of Edith Piaf) and singer Betty Roi.

"Parkour Deux" CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; www.counterpulse.org. Fri/25-Sun/27 and June 1-3, 8pm (also June 3, 2pm). $15-22. Scott Wells and Dancers perform new work. *