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.
Duck Lake The Jewish Theater, 470 Florida, SF; www.duck-lake.com. $17-35. Opens Fri/6, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through July 28. PianoFight's resident sketch comedy group, Mission CTRL, performs its new "ballet-horror-comedy."
For the Greater Good, Or The Last Election This week: Dolores Park, 18th St at Dolores, SF; www.sfmt.org. Free (donations accepted). Opens Wed/4, 2pm. Runs Sat/7-Sun/8, 2pm. Various venues through Sept. 8. SF Mime Troupe launches its annual political musical (this year's theme: one percenters behaving badly); the show travels around NorCal parks and other venues throughout the summer.
King John Forest Meadows Amphitheater, 890 Belle, Dominican University of California, San Rafael; www.marinshakespeare.org. $20-35. Previews Fri/6-Sun/8, 8pm. Opens July 13, 8pm. Runs July 15, 21, 27, 29, Aug 4, 10-12, 8pm; July 22 and Aug 5, 4pm. Marin Shakespeare Company kicks off its 2012 outdoor summer festival season with this history play.
Absolutely San Francisco Alcove Theater, 414 Mason, Ste 502, SF; www.thealcovetheater.com. $32-50. Thu-Sat, 8pm (no show Fri/6). Through Aug 18. A multi-character solo show about the characters of San Francisco.
5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason, SF; www.tidestheatre.org. $20-38. Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 10pm). Through July 21. Tides Theatre performs Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood's comedy about five women forced into a bomb shelter during a mid-breakfast nuke attack.
Fwd: Life Gone Viral Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm (July 15, show at 7:30pm). Extended through July 22. The internet becomes comic fodder for creator-performers Charlie Varon and Jeri Lynn Cohen, and creator-director David Ford.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch Boxcar Playhouse, 505 Natoma, SF; www.boxcartheatre.org. $25. Wed/4-Thu/5, 8pm; Fri/6-Sat/7, 7 and 9:30pm; Sun/8, 5pm. Boxcar Theatre performs John Cameron Mitchell's musical about a transgendered glam rocker.
Jip: His Story Marsh San Francisco, MainStage, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $8-50. Thu-Fri, 7:30pm; Sat, 2pm; Sun, 3pm. Through July 15. Marsh Youth Theater remounts its 2005 musical production of Katherine Paterson's historical novel.
The Magic Flute War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness, SF; www.sfopera.com. $31-340. Fri/6, 8pm; Sun/8, 2pm. San Francisco Opera adds some unexpected vitality to its new star-studded production of one of the world's most popular operas, Mozart's whimsical but philosophical tale of a romance and (Mason-inspired) spiritual evolution. Prince Tamino (poised tenor Alek Shrader) and sidekick Papageno (fine baritone Nathan Gunn in a blithe comedic performance) are on a quest to rescue from sorcerer Sarastro (imposing bass Kristinn Sigmundsson) the lovely Pamina (appealing soprano Heidi Stober), daughter of the Queen of the Night (the rousingly virtuosic Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova). The battle royal between the Queen and Sarastro is one between darkness and light, but the emphasis of this joyful production is rightly on the latter, even as Tamino and Papageno's journey takes them through the ritual rite of passage in Sarastro's order, the Temple of Light. Visual artist Jun Kaneko (responsible for the giant ceramic heads on view outside the War Memorial Opera House until November) marshals a brightly extensive color palette and some state-of-the-art 3D software to create a mise-en-scène out of parallel planes of patterned line and color. These enveloping and fascinating geometric flights of fancy animated by a drawn, human touch and organic trickles and blushes of color throughout come complimented by wildly playful costumes, including a host of wonderfully oddball brightly painted birds, that make for some pleasantly cackling entrances. David Gockley's English-language translation of the libretto, meanwhile, adds a zesty colloquial freshness whose tinge of irony contributes to an intellectual roominess that matches the aesthetic one, both together offering some necessary reflective space to the contemporary audience vis-à-vis the certainties of this Enlightenment fairytale. (Avila)
Proof NOHspace, 2840 Mariposa, SF; www.proofsf.com. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through July 14. $28. Expression Productions performs David Auburn's Pulitzer-winning play about a mathematician and his daughter.
"Risk Is This...The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival" Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor, SF; (415) 525-1205, www.cuttingball.com. Free ($20 donation for reserved seating; $50 donation for five-play reserved seating pass). Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through July 14. Cutting Ball's annual fest of experimental plays features two new works and five new translations in staged readings.
The Scottsboro Boys American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary, SF; www.act-sf.org. $20-95. Tue-Sat, 8pm (also Wed and Sat, 2pm; no matinee Wed/4); Sun/8, 7pm. Extended through July 22. American Conservatory Theater presents the Kander and Ebb musical about nine African American men falsely accused of a crime they didn't commit in the pre-civil rights movement South.
Vital Signs Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Sat, 8:30pm. Through July 21. The Marsh San Francisco presents Alison Whittaker's behind-the-scenes look at nursing in America.
Waiting... Larkspur Hotel Union Square, 525 Sutter, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $69-75. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Aug 5. Comedy set behind the scenes at a San Francisco restaurant.
The Waiting Period MainStage, Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Extended through August 4. 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)
Emotional Creature Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2025 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $14.50-73. Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm; no show July 13); Wed, 7pm (no show Wed/4); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through July 15. It's not easy being a girl, and Eve Ensler's newest play Emotional Creature leaves no scenario unexplored: from high school shaming rituals to ritual clitorectomies. If that sounds like a jarring juxtaposition, you'd be right. It's difficult theatrically to transition seamlessly from a deeply affecting monologue about being a teenage sex slave in the Democratic Republic of Congo to a cute song about wearing miniskirts, and it's equally difficult for the audience to change emotional gears rapidly enough to be able to adequately absorb the impact of each individual segment. Instead, the play comes off as an earnest but awkward Girl Scout Jamboree variety show attempting to address as wide a variety of social ills as possible (from teen suicide to industrial pollution) despite the strong and savvy acting chops of the six performers. In contrast to Ensler's most popular work, The Vagina Monologues, which effectively "humanized" a part of the body by giving it something highly personal to say, Emotional Creature weirdly depersonalizes its girls by putting lines in their mouths ("I'm not the life you never lived") that clearly come from an adult perspective. And as for those girls who don't particularly identify as "emotional creatures" at all? For them, there are no words. (Gluckstern)
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 July 15. 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)
Salomania Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org. $30-55. Tue, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through July 22. The libel trial of a politically opportunistic newspaper publisher (Mark Andrew Phillips) and the private life of a famous dancer of the London stage San Franciscan Maud Allan (a striking Madeline H.D. Brown) become the scandalous headline-grabber of the day, as World War I rages on in some forgotten external world. In Aurora's impressive world premiere by playwright-director Mark Jackson, the real-life story of Allan, celebrated for her risqué interpretation of Oscar Wilde's Salomé, soon gets conflated with the infamous trial (20 years earlier) of Wilde himself (a shrewdly understated Kevin Clarke). But is this case just a media-stoked distraction, or is there a deeper connection between the disciplining of "sexual deviance" and the ordered disorder of the nation state? Jackson's sharp if sprawling ensemble-driven exploration brings up plenty of tantalizing suggestions, while reveling in the complexly intermingling themes of sex, nationalism, militarism, women's rights, and the webs spun by media and politics. A group of trench-bound soldiers (the admirable ensemble of Clarke, Alex Moggridge, Anthony Nemirovsky, Phillips, Marilee Talkington, and Liam Vincent) provide one comedy-lined avenue into a system whose own excesses are manifest in the insane carnage of war yet an insanity only possible in a world policed by illusions, distractions and the fear of unsettled and unsettling "deviants" of all kinds. In its cracked-mirror portraiture of an era, the play echoes a social and political turmoil that has never really subsided. (Avila)
"Channels: An Evening of Cross-Disciplinary Performance" Shotwell Studios, 3252-A 19th St, SF; www.ftloose.org. Fri/6-Sun/7, 8pm. $10-20. Dancers Daria Kaufman, Bianca Brzezinski, and musician-composer Richard Warp perform Arti Ulate, a dance-theater piece; Brzezinski also performs a solo, Non-self.
"Comedy Bodega" Esta Noche Nightclub, 3079 16th St, SF; www.comedybodega.com. Thu/5, 8pm. Free (one drink minimum). Weekly free stand-up show. This week: Yayne Abeba, David Hawkins, Anna Seregina, Veronica Porras, Baruch P. Hernandez, and George Chen.
"Comedy Returns to El Rio" El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Mon/9, 8pm. $7-20. With Joe Klocek, Josh Healey, Regina Stoops, Johan Miranda, Shanti Charan, and Lisa Geduldig.
"Elect to Laugh" Studio Theater, Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. Tue, 8pm. 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 Andre Show" Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF; www.rickshawstop.com. Mon/9, 8pm. $10. Adult Swim-spawned, SF Sketchfest-presented faux-cable access variety show with musical guests and "real and fake celebrity appearances," hosted by actor Eric André.
"The Fag Hag Comedy Show" Deco Lounge, 510 Larkin, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Sun/8, 8pm. $10. Charlie Ballard hosts this stand-up comedy extravaganza, with headliner Glamis Rory and more.
"A Funny Night for Comedy" Actors Theatre of San Francisco, 855 Bush, SF; www.natashamuse.com. Sun/8, 7pm. $10. Natasha Muse and Ryan Cronin host stand-up comedians, including headliner Jason Wheeler, at their monthly talk show.
"Jillarious Tuesdays" Tommy T's Showroom, 1000 Van Ness, SF; www.jillarious.com. Tue, 7:30. Ongoing. $20. Weekly comedy show with Jill Bourque, Kevin Camia, Justin Lucas, and special guests.
Carolina Lugo and Carolé Acuña's Café Flamenco Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; www.carolinalugo.com. Sun/8, 6:15pm. $15-19. Mother-daughter flamenco dance and music company.
"Majestic Musical Review Featuring Her Rebel Highness" Harlot, 46 Minna, SF; www.herrebelhighness.com. Sun, 5pm. Through Aug 12. $25-65. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, performers in Baroque-chic gowns, music, and more.
"Schwabacher Summer Concert" Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, SF; www.sfopera.com. Thu/5, 7:30pm. $25-40. The young talent of the Merola Opera Program performs scenes from works by Bizet, Stravinsky, and more.