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 email@example.com. For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.
And That's What Little Girls Are Made Of Tides Theatre, 533 Sutter, SF; www.whatgirlsaremadeof.com. $20-30. Opens Thu/19, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Nov 4. Jennifer Wilson's multimedia play chronicles her attempts to break into the male-dominated world of venture capital funds.
Fat Pig Boxcar Theatre Studio, 125A Hyde, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $20. Opens Thu/18, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through Nov 10. Theater Toda presents Neil LaBute's dark comedy about a man who faces scrutiny from his friends when he falls for a plus-sized woman.
Fierce Love: Stories From Black Gay Life New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-37. Previews Wed/17-Thu/18, 8pm. Opens Fri/19, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Oct 28. Pomo Afro Homos performs a revival of of its 1991 hit about the struggles of African American gay men in America.
Richard III Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; www.aeofberkeley.org. $12-15. Opens Fri/19, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Nov 17. Actors Ensemble of Berkeley performs the Shakespeare classic.
Within the Wheel Live Oak Park, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; www.raggedwing.org. Free. Previews Wed/17, 6pm. Opens Thu/18, 6pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 6pm (last entry 7:30pm; special Halloween show Oct 31). Through Nov 3. Ragged Wing Ensemble presents an immersive performance experience inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
Bound By Blood Boxcar Theatre Playhouse, 505 Natoma, SF; www.ianiroproductions.com. $20. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 27. Opening on the heels of ACT's production of The Normal Heart, local theater-maker Eric Inman's Bound By Blood also explores the devastating human fallout of the AIDS crisis as experienced by the two families one of blood relations and one of chosen friends of a young gay man, whose death affects them all. Appearing onstage both as a ghost and in a series of flashbacks, Justin Walker (played by Inman) deals with his fear of dying by ditching his meds in favor of drink, and his fear of coming out to his conservative family by postponing the inevitable until it's too late, leaving his friends holding the burden of his inconvenient truth in their unwilling hands. Awkward moments abound as Justin's buddies ponder the ethics of outing him posthumously, as his mother (Sally Hogarty) and sister (CC Sheldon) bicker incessantly and his erstwhile "beard" Alice (Abigail Edber) pluckily spearheads the funeral planning. This is Inman's first full-length play, which helps to explain the often-clunky dialogue and under-developed characters that unfortunately obscure the play's dramatic potential, but the ideals he champions within tolerance, self-acceptance, integrity, loyalty, love are ones well worth exploring, even imperfectly. (Gluckstern)
Elect to Laugh Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. Tue, 8pm. Through Nov 6. $15-50. Veteran political comedian Will Durst emphasizes he's watching the news and keeping track of the presidential race "so you don't have to." No kidding, it sounds like brutal work for anyone other than a professional comedian for whom alone it must be Willy Wonka's edible Eden of delicious material. Durst deserves thanks for ingesting this material and converting it into funny, but between the ingesting and out-jesting there's the risk of turning too palatable what amounts to a deeply offensive excuse for a democratic process, as we once again hurtle and are herded toward another election-year November, with its attendant massive anticlimax and hangover already so close you can touch them. Durst knows his politics and comedy backwards and forwards, and the evolving show, which pops up at the Marsh every Tuesday in the run-up to election night, offers consistent laughs born on his breezy, infectious delivery. One just wishes there were some alternative political universe that also made itself known alongside the deft two-party sportscasting. (Avila)
The Fifth Element: Live! Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission, SF; www.darkroomsf.com. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 27. Comedic adaptation of the 1997 Luc Besson sci-fi epic.
Foodies! The Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.foodiesthemusical.com. $30-34. Fri-Sat, 8pm (no show Nov 17). Open-ended. AWAT Productions presents Morris Bobrow's musical comedy revue all about food.
Geezer Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $30-100. Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Nov 18. Geoff Hoyle's popular solo show about aging returns.
Love in the Time of Zombies Café Royale, 800 Post, SF; sftheaterpub.wordpress.com. Free ($5 donation suggested). Mon-Tue, 8pm. Through Oct 30. San Francisco Theater Pub performs Kirk Shimano's "rom-zom-com."
Of Thee I Sing Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.42ndstmoon.org. $25-75. Wed, 7pm; Thu-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Oct 21. 42nd Street Moon performs George and Ira Gershwin's classic political satire.
The Real Americans Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $25-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Extended through Oct 27. Dan Hoyle's hit show, inspired by the people and places he encountered during his 100-day road trip across America in 2009, continues.
Roseanne: Live! Rebel, 1760 Market, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $25. Wed, 7 and 9pm (no shows Oct 31). Through Nov 14. Lady Bear, Heklina, D'Arcy Drollinger, and more star in this tribute to the long-running sitcom.
The Scotland Company Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; www.thunderbirdtheatre.com. $15-25. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Oct 27. Thunderbird Theatre Company performs Jake Rosenberg's new comedy.
Shocktoberfest 13: The Bride of Death Hypnodrome, 575 10th St, SF; www.thrillpeddlers.com. $25-35. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through Nov 17. Thrillpeddlers' seasonal assortment of yeasty Grand Guignol playlets is a mixed bag of treats, but it all goes so nicely with the autumnal slink into early nights and dark cravings. Fredrick Whitney's Coals of Fire is lightly amusing, if far from smoking, as a two-hander about a blind older matron (Leigh Crow) who discovers her young companion (Zelda Koznofski, alternating nights with Nancy French) has been secretly schtupping her husband. I'm a Mummy is a short, not very effective musical interlude by Douglas Byng, featuring the bright pair of Jim Jeske and Annie Larson as Mr. and Mrs., respectively. The titular feature, The Bride of Death, written by Michael Phillis and directed by Russell Blackwood, proves a worthy centerpiece, unfolding an intriguing, well-acted tale about a reporter (Phillis) and his photographer (Flynn DeMarco) arriving at a stormy castle to interview a strangely youthful Grand Guignol stage star (Bonni Suval) making her film debut. After another, this time more rousing musical number, Those Beautiful Ghouls (with music and lyrics by Scrumbly Koldewyn; directed and choreographed by D'Arcy Drollinger), comes the evening's real high point, The Twisted Pair by Rob Keefe, acted to the bloody hilt by leads Blackwood and DeMarco as the titular duo of scientists driven mad by an experimental batch of 'crazy' glue. All of it comes capped, of course, by the company's signature lights-out spook show. (Avila)
"Strindberg Cycle: The Chamber Plays in Rep" Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor, SF; www.cuttingball.com. $10-50 (festival pass, $75). Previews Oct 25, 7:30pm and Oct 26, 8pm (part two); Nov 1, 7:30pm and Nov 2, 8pm (part three). Opens Thu/18, 7:30pm (part one); Oct 27, 8pm (part two); and Nov 3, 8pm (part three). Runs Thu, 7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 5pm. Through Nov 18. Cutting Ball performs a festival of August Strindberg in three parts: The Ghost Sonata, The Pelican and The Black Glove, and Storm and Burned House.
The Waiting Period Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thu-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Extended through Oct 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)
Acid Test: The Many Incarnations of Ram Dass Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thu-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through Nov 24. Lynne Kaufman's new play stars Warren David Keith as the noted spiritual figure.
Assassins Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $20-30. Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Nov 4. Shotgun Players interrupts this season of dreary electoral debates with an important announcement about the country you live in, as the sure and provocative 1990 musical by Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and John Weidman (book) stitches together American history's odd assortment of successful and failed presidential assassins to explore the darker recesses of the national mythos. Through an eclectic score of deft period-specific songs and the narrative framework of a feverish carnival shooting gallery overseen by a nefarious proprietor (Jeff Garrett) a pageant of kooks and rebels parades, beginning with pioneer assassin John Wilkes Booth (an aptly imposing Galen Murphy-Hoffman). He, in turn, acts as a sort of patron saint to those that follow in his footsteps including Charles Guiteau (Steven Hess), Leon Czolgosz (Dan Saski), Giuseppe Zangara (Aleph Ayin), John Hinckley (Danny Cozart), Sam Byck (Ryan Drummond), Sara Jane Moore (Rebecca Castelli), Squeaky Fromme (Cody Metzger), and of course Lee Harvey Oswald (Kevin Singer, in a part that doubles with that of the Balladeer). Throughout, director Susannah Martin's strong cast and musical director David Möschler's lively eight-piece band insure a raucous, thoughtful, and intimate American fever dream. (Avila)
An Iliad Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $14.50-77. Opens Wed/17, 8pm. Runs Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through Nov 11. Berkeley Rep performs Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare's Homer-inspired tale.
The Kipling Hotel: True Misadventures of the Electric Pink '80s Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Extended through Dec 16. 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)
Richard the First: Part One, Part Two, Part Three Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; www.centralworks.org. $14-25. Opens Thu/18, 8pm (part one); Fri/19, 8pm (part two); and Sat/20, 8pm (part three). Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm (three-part marathon Sundays, Nov 11 and 18, 2, 5, 8pm). Through Nov 18. This Central Works Method Trilogy presents a rotating schedule of three plays by Gary Graves about the king known as "the Lionheart."
Sex, Slugs and Accordion Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $10. Wed, 8pm. Through Nov 14. Jetty Swart, a.k.a. Jet Black Pearl, stars in this "wild and exotic evening of song."
33 Variations TheatreWorks at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro, Mtn View; www.theatreworks.org. $23-73. Tue-Wed, 7:30pm; Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Oct 28. TheatreWorks performs Moisés Kaufman's drama about a contemporary musicologist struggling to solve one of Beethoven's greatest mysteries, and a connecting story about the composer himself.
Topdog/Underdog Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; www.marintheatre.org. $36-57. Wed/17, 7:30pm; Thu/18-Sat/20, 8pm (also Sat/20, 2pm); Sun/21, 2 and 7pm. Marin Theatre Company performs Suzan-Lori Parks' Pulitzer Prize winner about a contentious pair of brothers.
The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $8-50. Sun, 11am; Nov 23-25, 11am. Through Nov 25. Louis "The Amazing Bubble Man" Pearl brings his lighter-than-air show back to the Marsh.
Alonzo King LINES Ballet Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard, SF; www.ybca.org. Fri/19-Sat/20 and Oct 24-27, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Oct 28. The company celebrates 30 years with its fall home season.
BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason Center, SF; www.improv.org. Fri, 8pm, through Oct 26: "This Just In!," $20. Sat, 8pm, through Oct 27: "Improvised Horror Musical," $20.
"Comedy Bodega" Esta Noche Nightclub, 3079 16th St, SF; www.comedybodega.com. Thu, 8pm. Ongoing. No cover (one drink minumum). This week: Amy Miller, Kurt Weitzmann, Martini Paratore, and Jessica Sele.
"Comikaze Lounge" Café Royale, 800 Post, SF; www.comikazelounge.com. Wed/17, 8pm. Free. Stand-up with Casey Ley and more.
"Crooked Little Hearts" Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri/19-Sat/20, 8pm. $20. The Ananta Project's home season includes a world premiere that uses dance to explore the nuances of human intimacy.
"Gravity (and other large things)" NOHspace, 2840 Mariposa, SF; www.performancelab.org. Fri/19-Sat/20, 8pm; Sun/21, 4pm. $12-25. Right Brain Performancelab present this evening-length dance-theater piece.
"Halloween! The Ballad of Michele Myers" CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; michelemyers2012.eventbrite.com. Fri-Sun and Oct 31, 8pm. Through Oct 31. $25. Drag superstar Raya Light returns in the seasonally-appropriate horror musical.
"The Hula Show 2012" Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon, SF; www.naheihulu.org. Sat/20 and Oct 26-27, 8pm; Sun/21 and Oct 28, 8pm (children's matinee Oct 28, noon). $35-90. Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu performs its annual show, featuring a hula satirizing President Obama's birth certificate controversy.
"Let Us Find the Words" Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission, SF; www.thecjm.org. Thu/18, 6:30pm; Fri.19, 1pm. Free with museum admission ($5-12). Actors Dominique Frot and Alexander Muheum present a dramatic reading of letters between poets Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan.
"Perverts Put Out: The Election Erection Edition" Center for Sex and Culture, 1369 Mission, SF; www.sexandculture.org. Sat/20, 7:30. $10-20. Dr. Carol Queen and Simon Sheppard host performances by Jen Cross, Greta Cristina, Gina de Vries, and more.
"San Francisco Magic Parlor" Chancellor Hotel Union Square, 433 Powell, SF; www.sfmagicparlor.com. $40. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Ongoing. Magic vignettes with conjurer and storyteller Walt Anthony.
"San Francisco Trolley Dances 2012" 925 Mission, SF; www.epiphanydance.org. Sat/20-Sun/21, tours leave at 11am, 11:45am, 12:30pm, 1:15pm, 2pm, and 2:45pm. Free with Muni fare ($2). Climb aboard Muni for a unique performance experience at this annual event presented by Kim Epifano's Epiphany Productions.
ShadowLight Theatre St. Cyprian's Church, 2097 Turk, SF; www.noevalleymusicseries.com. Sat/20, 8pm. $15. Balinese shadow puppet theater with live gamelan accompaniment.
"Smack Dab" Magnet, 4122 18th St, SF; www.magnetsf.org. Wed/17, 8pm. Free. Open mic featuring local authors Belo Cipriani and Jim Provenzano.
"Times Bones" Kanbar Hall, Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California, SF; www.mjdc.org. Thu/18-Sat/20, 8pm; Sun/21, 7pm. $18-31. Margaret Jenkins Dance Company previews a new work that will premiere in 2013.
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