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.
Carmelina Eureka Theatre, 215 Geary, SF; www.42ndstmoon.org. $25-75. Previews Wed/31, 7pm; Fri/1-Sat/2, 8pm. Opens Sat/3, 6pm. Runs Wed, 7pm; Thu-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm (family matinee Nov 10, 1pm); Sun, 3pm. Through Nov 18. 42nd Street Moon performs the "forgotten musical" that inspired the Broadway hit Mamma Mia!
"ReOrient 2012 Festival and Forum" Z Space, 450 Florida, SF; www.goldenthread.org. $20. Series A opens Thu/1, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Nov 18. Series B runs Nov 16-17, 8pm. Golden Thread presents this annual festival of innovative, throught-provoking short plays from the Middle East, plus a related forum with artistic dialogue, performances, and more.
Toil and Trouble La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; www.impacttheatre.com. $10-20. Previews Thu/1-Fri/2, 8pm. Opens Sat/3, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm (no show Nov 22). Through Dec 8. Impact Theatre presents Lauren Gunderson's world premiere comedy inspired by Macbeth.
Wilder Times Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org. $32-60. Previews Fri/2-Sat/3 and Nov 7, 8pm; Sun/4, 2pm; Tue/6, 7pm. Opens Nov 8, 8pm. Runs Tue, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Dec 9. Aurora Theatre performs a collection of one-acts by Thornton Wilder.
And That's What Little Girls Are Made Of Tides Theatre, 533 Sutter, SF; www.whatgirlsaremadeof.com. $20-30. Thu/1-Sat/3, 8pm; Sun/4, 2pm. Jennifer Wilson's multimedia play chronicles her attempts to break into the male-dominated world of venture capital funds.
Elect to Laugh Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Tue/6, 8pm. 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)
Elektra Geary Theater, 415 Geary, SF; www.act-sf.org. $20-110. Opens Wed/31, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat and Nov 13, 8pm (also Sat/3, Nov 7, 10, and 17, 2pm); Sun, 2pm (also Sun/4, 7pm). Through Nov 18. Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis stars in Sophocles' Greek tragedy.
Fat Pig Boxcar Theatre Studio, 125A Hyde, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $20. 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.
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.
The Hundred Flowers Project Thick House, 1695 18th St, SF; www.crowdedfire.org. $10-35. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through Nov 17. Crowded Fire Theater presents the world premiere of Christopher Chen's election-year drama about a theater company who get carried away while working on a play about Mao Tse Tung and the birth of modern China.
Lost Love Mojo Theatre, 2940 16th St, Ste 217, SF; www.mojotheatre.com. $28. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through Nov 17. Peter Papadopoulos directs the West Coast premiere of his climate-change comic tragedy at Mojo Theatre.
Phaedra's Love Bindlestiff Studios, 185 Sixth St, SF; www.doitliveproductions.com. $15. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through Nov 17. Although she didn't make it into the 21st century herself, British playwright Sarah Kane (1971-1999) left behind a small group of plays that continue to test the complacency of an age lulled into thinking itself ultimately rational and civilized. In Kane's cutting, brutally funny reworking of Seneca's play (itself an adaptation of Euripides' Hippolytus), the titular lovelorn queen (an amiably tormented Whitney Thomas) throws herself shamelessly at her stepson, royal slob Hippolytus (a sharp yet low-key Michael Zavala, channeling mumblecore nihilism) despite, or because of, his pungent contempt for everyone around him. The play's main action, however, takes place after Phaedra has killed herself, leaving a note accusing Hippolytus of rape and setting in motion a downfall that is his own perverse salvation. Despite occasionally flagging momentum, director Ben Landmesser and newcomers Do It Live! (in their second outing since last season's debut, an agile staging of Sam Shepard's Suicide in B Flat) deliver a worthy production of this clever gem. While a sporadic, low-murmuring sound design (by Hannah Birch Carl) infuses the atmosphere with a muffled libidinal menace, the thrust stage brings us close to the action, rubbing our noses in the fetid whisperings and fumblings of royal parasites and their dialectical kin, the infantilized, desensitized masses. Kane's Hippolytus, meanwhile, turns from a sort of repellent Hamlet without motive to a Genet-like criminal-saint whose martyrdom is a solitary ecstasy of stark perception. (Avila)
The Rainmaker Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.sheltontheater.org. $38. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 22. Shelton Theatre preforms N. Richard Nash's classic drama.
Roseanne: Live! Rebel, 1760 Market, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $25. Wed, 7 and 9pm (no shows Wed/31). Through Nov 14. Lady Bear, Heklina, D'Arcy Drollinger, and more star in this tribute to the long-running sitcom.
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 Thu/1, 7:30pm and Fri/2, 8pm (part three). Opens Sat/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 Dec 8. 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/31-Thu/1, 7pm; Fri/2-Sat/3, 8pm; Sun/4, 5pm. 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. Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through Nov 11. Director Lisa Peterson and actor Denis O'Hare's adaptation of the Homeric epic poem (in Robert Fagles' translation) puts the narrative of the Trojan War in the hands of a Homeric storyteller (played by an indefatigable but somewhat histrionic Henry Woronicz) who, finding himself backstage before an audience, reluctantly warms to yet another retelling of the ninth year of the ten-year battle. The narrative comes underscored by bassist Brian Ellingsen (as a shy hipster Muse, arriving late to the theater on his bicycle), and comes peppered with contemporary analogies to drive home, in a rather stock and limited way, the "timeliness" of such a timeless story. This can be heavy-handed (as in a long chronological listing of foreign wars from ancient to modern delivered with a strained intensity) or even jarringly banal (as when entry into battle is described with reference to everyday road rage). Indeed, the whole production is likely to bring to mind one of those special-assembly days in grade school, where a traveling actor delivers an accessible amount of good-for-you classics to a half-bored auditorium of children. Meanwhile, the story's over-the-top patriarchal and class biases and general authoritarianism mostly get a pass. The complacency of it all simply belies the war-is-hell message. (Avila)
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. 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."
Richard III Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; www.aeofberkeley.org. $12-15. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Nov 17. Actors Ensemble of Berkeley performs the Shakespeare classic.
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."
The Sound of Music Julia Morgan Theatre, 2640 College, Berk; www.berkeleyplayhouse.org. $15-35. Thu-Sat, 7pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, noon and 5pm. Through Dec 2. Berkeley Playhouse opens its fifth season with the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.
Within the Wheel Live Oak Park, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; www.raggedwing.org. Free. Wed/31-Sat/3, 6pm (last entry 7:30pm). Ragged Wing Ensemble presents an immersive performance experience inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
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.
"Betty's Big Vegas Variety Show" Stage Werx Theatre, 446 Valencia, SF; picklewaterclowncabaret.bpt.me. Mon/5, 8pm. $15. Picklewater Clown Cabaret performs.
"Comedy Bodega" Esta Noche Nightclub, 3079 16th St, SF; www.comedybodega.com. Thu, 8pm. Ongoing. No cover (one drink minumum). This week: Marga Gomez, Colleen Watson, Matt Leib, and Stefani Silverman.
"Día de los Muertos Community Concert" Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness, SF; www.sfsymphony.org. Sat/3, 2pm. $15-68. The San Francisco Symphony presents its fifth annual Day of the Dead concert, a family-friendly event featuring the SF Symphony's Chorus and Youth Orchestra, plus narration by Chicano theater pioneer Luis Valdez, Mexico's Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán, and more.
"Halloween! The Ballad of Michele Myers" CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; michelemyers2012.eventbrite.com. Wed/31, 8pm. $25. Drag superstar Raya Light returns in the seasonally-appropriate horror musical.
"Halloween Super Scene" Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason Center, SF; www.improv.org. Wed/31, 8pm. $20. BATS Improv performs a special Halloween-themed show.
"Palau'an Bird Call: Huni Ng Tandikan" Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF; www.ybca.org. Fri/2-Sat/3, 8pm (also Sat/3, 2pm). $21. Kularts commissioned this world premiere by Philippine master choreographer Jay Loyola.
"Private Life" Counterpulse, 1310 Mission, SF; www.counterpulse.org. Fri/2-Sat/3, 8pm; Sun/4, 2pm. $18-25. Deborah Slater Dance Theater's latest work is inspired by a dancer who is also a soldier.
RAWdance ODC Theater, 3153 17th St, SF; www.rawdance.org. Fri/2-Sat/3, 8pm; Sun/4, 3pm. $20-25. The company's fall 2012 season includes a world premiere duet, Double Exposure.
"San Francisco Magic Parlor" Chancellor Hotel Union Square, 433 Powell, SF; www.sfmagicparlor.com. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Ongoing. $40. Magic vignettes with conjurer and storyteller Walt Anthony.
"Shift Happens" Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; www.carlyozard.com. Sun/4, 4pm; Mon/5, 8pm. $20 (plus a two-drink minumum). Carly Ozard performs her cabaret show.
"To Bury a Cat: Clown Show" Shotwell Studios, 3252-A 19th St, SF; facebook.com/clownsonastick. Fri/2-Sat/3, 8pm. $12-20. Clowns on a Stick perform a lighthearted (but macabre!) Halloween show.
"Touching Up" Mint Plaza, Mint at Fifth St. between Market and Mission, SF; www.bandaloop.org. Thu/1, 12:30pm. Also Sat/3, 1pm, Great Wall of Oakland, West Grand at Valley, Oakl. Both shows free. Vertical dance company Bandaloop performs choreography while suspended from climbing ropes.