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.
Hysterical, Historical San Francisco: Holiday Edition Alcove Theater, 414 Mason, Ste 502, SF; www.thealcovetheater.com. $25-40. Opens Fri/23, 9pm. Runs Fri-Sat and Dec 26-31, 9pm. Through Dec 31. Comedian Kurt Weitzmann takes on San Francisco history, adding some holiday flair along the way.
Slugs and Kicks Thick House, 1695 18th St, SF; www.therhino.org. $15-30. Previews Sat/24 and Nov 28, 8pm; Sun/25, 3pm. Opens Nov 29, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Dec 9. Theatre Rhinoceros performs John Fisher's play about the offstage drama at a college theater company.
It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; www.marintheatre.org. $36-57. Previews Thu/23-Sat/24, 8pm; Sun/25, 7pm. Opens Tue/27, 8pm. Runs Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat/24, Dec 1, and Dec 15, 2pm; Dec 6, 1pm); Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Dec 16. Marin Theatre Company performs Joe Landry's live radio play adaptation of the classic Capra film.
Foodies! The Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.foodiesthemusical.com. $30-34. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. AWAT Productions presents Morris Bobrow's musical comedy revue all about food.
History: The Musical Un-Scripted Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.un-scripted.com. $10-20. Thu-Sat, 8pm (no show Thu/22). Through Dec 22. The Un-Scripted Theater Company performs "an unscripted romp through Western history."
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.
Speed-the-Plow Actors Theatre of San Francisco, 855 Bush, SF; www.actorstheatresf.org. $26-38. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Extended through Dec 21. Actors Theatre of San Francisco performs the David Mamet drama.
The Submission New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Wed-Sat, 8pm (no shows Wed/21-Thu/22); Sun, 2pm. Through Dec 16. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs Jeff Talbott's drama about a playwright who falsifies his identity when he enters his latest work into a prestigious theater festival.
Superior Donuts Gough Street Playhouse, 1622 Gough, SF; www.custommade.org. $25-30. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Dec 2. Consider the doughnut: an infinite ring of fried dough and glaze, simple, unassuming, ubiquitous. Once a staple of on-the-go breakfasts and on-the-road snacking, the doughnut has gone into decline, assaulted on all sides by nutritionists, tastier pastries, and luxury branding. Arthur (Don Wood), the aging protagonist of Tracy Letts' Superior Donuts, has failed to see the writing on the wall, perhaps for decades, as his family doughnut shop, whose regulars include a feisty bag lady (Vicki Siegel) and a pair of beat cops (Ariane Owens, Emmanuel Lee), struggles to compete with the Starbucks across the street and the changing mores and values of the neighborhood demographic. Enter Franco (Chris Marsol), a likable youthful hustler in desperate need of a job, who sees potential in Arthur's decrepit shop: poetry readings! Bran muffins! A liquor license! Drawn to each other by mutual loneliness the two warily navigate the waters of friendship, despite their obvious gaps in age, ambition, and fashion sense (Franco to Arthur: "the Grateful Dead aren't hiring anymore"). Custom Made's production, directed by Marilyn Langbehn, breathes vibrancy into a gentrifying corner of Chicago, thanks especially to Chris Marsol, whose Franco is bold, intelligent and thwarted, and Don Wood, who plays Arthur like a man frozen in ice, whose eventual thaw speaks to the restorative powers of possibility. (Gluckstern)
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. Extended through Jan 5. Lynne Kaufman's new play stars Warren David Keith as the noted spiritual figure.
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)
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.
Toil and Trouble La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; www.impacttheatre.com. $10-20. Thu-Sat, 8pm (no show Thu/22). Through Dec 8. For a theater company known for its radical interpretations of the Shakespearean canon, a play such as Lauren Gunderson's Toil and Trouble, a goofy Generation Why retelling of Macbeth, is a particularly good fit for Impact Theatre. Whittled down to a dynamic three-character chamber play featuring delusionary slackers plotting to turn their MBAs and nebulous SF Giants connections into a bloodless takeover of a remote island nation rather than get crappy café jobs to pay the rent, Toil throws baseball, investors, Wikipedia, fortune cookies, hypothetical sex, and real violence into one cauldron, letting them bubble and froth throughout the piece. The so-crazy-it-might-just-work plan hatched by Adam (Michael Delaney), a relentlessly cheerful narcissist, quickly leads to tension between the three, especially once the potential payout is estimated at 30 million dollars, and before their plot is even finalized, a tenuous, murderous alliance forms between the insufferably wimpy Matt (Will Hand) and the rage-aholic Beth (Jeanette Penley). All three actors play their all-too-familiar characters to the hilt, and Josh Costello's direction is deft and assured. A surprise twist subverts the expected lull of tragedy, and all is resolved, more or less, in a manner more appropriate to this time and place than Shakespeare's, though not without some grand sound and fury beforehand, signifying both. (Gluckstern)
The White Snake Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2025 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-99. Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Nov 29, Dec 13, and Sat, 2pm; no matinee Dec 1; no show Thu/22); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Dec 23. Mary Zimmerman (Metamorphoses) returns to Berkeley Rep with this classic romance adapted from a Chinese legend.
Wilder Times Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org. $32-60. Tue, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Dec 9. Aurora Theatre performs a collection of one-acts by Thornton Wilder.
The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $8-50. Fri/23-Sun/25, 11am. Louis "The Amazing Bubble Man" Pearl brings his lighter-than-air show back to the Marsh.
BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason Center, SF; www.improv.org. $20. "Theatresports," Fri, 8pm, through Dec 21. "Family Drama," Sat/24, 8pm.
"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.