Our Weekly Picks: February 6-12, 2013


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.



God of Carnage Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.sheltontheatre.org. $38. Opens Fri/8, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through March 30. Shelton Theater presents Yasmina Reza's Tony-winning comedy about upper-middle-class parents clashing over an act of playground violence between their children.


The Fourth Messenger Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.thefourthmessenger.com. $23-40. Opens Wed/6, 8pm. Runs Wed-Thu, 7pm (Thu/7 and Feb 14, show at 8pm; no show Feb 13 or 20); Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through March 10. 100 Shades of Green presents the world premiere of Tanya Shaffer and Vienna Teng's musical that imagines a contemporary, female Buddha.


Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Buriel Clay Theater at the African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton, SF; www.african-americanshakes.org. $10-15. Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Feb 17. African-American Shakespeare Company performs Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer-winning classic.

Dear Harvey New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Feb 24. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs Patricia Loughrey's play about Harvey Milk, drawn from over 30 interviews.

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.

4000 Miles Geary Theater, 415 Geary, SF; www.act-sf.org. $20-150. Wed/6-Sat/9, 8pm (also Sat/9, 2pm); Sun/10, 2 and 8pm. The Bay Area premiere at American Conservatory Theater of playwright Amy Herzog's Obie-winner proves a solid production of a much-heralded but rather tepid, sentimental American drama. It's about a grief-stricken young man (Reggie Gowland) who travels cross-country on his bicycle and, aimless in sorrow at the loss of his best friend, stalls out in the cramped New York City apartment of his maternal grandmother (Susan Blommaert), a slightly frail widow but spirited former Communist who proves grudgingly grateful for the company. Their odd-couple relationship unfurls over predictable bumps, laughs, and growing appreciation and acceptance, while the young man negotiates a touchy situation with an offstage adopted sister back home and weathers a breakup with his onstage girlfriend (Julia Lawler). Director Mark Rucker's cast (rounded out by Camille Mana as a bubbly art student and botched one-night stand) is generally engaging, and Rucker ensures the production is fun, a little weepy, ultimately a pleasant, inoffensive night out. But — though much has been made of the biographical inspiration for Herzog's play in her own grandmother and a difficult period spent as her roommate — the play itself seems thousands of miles from lived experience. Form and content are instead bounded by a mawkish naturalism. Scenes rise and fall in discrete arcs that seem to invite commercials, while the play's preference for the easy humor built on generalized differences or the soft landing of happy endings (over, say, a serious engagement with the values and overlapping crises represented by the generational confrontation) enforces a dismayingly complaisant and superficial worldview. (Avila)

Hedwig and the Angry Inch Boxcar Playhouse, 505 Natoma, SF; www.boxcartheatre.org. $25-40. Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 5pm). Through March 2. Hold onto your hairpiece, Boxcar Theatre is reprising their all-too short summer run of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and just in case you think you saw it already, be forewarned — you ain't seen nothing yet. Recast, redesigned, and re-vamped, this outcast-rock musical familiarly follows the misadventures of one Hedwig Robinson (né Hansel Schmidt) with glam, guts, and glitter. But unlike the movie version penned by and starring John Cameron Mitchell as the titular chanteuse, or other staged versions, director Nick A. Olivero splits the larger-than-life, would-be rock sensation into eight different characters, who are each given a solo turn as well as plenty of ensemble harmonizing during the course of the two hour-plus performance. The effect is often electric, and just as frequently hilarious, as when the four female actors playing the role stomp across the stage swinging imaginary dicks in the air to the lyric "six inches forward and five inches back, I got a, I got an angry inch!" Supported by a tight quartet of rock musicians led by Rachel Robinson, and the phenomenal Amy Lizardo as Hedwig's beleaguered "man Friday" Yitzhak, Hedwig keeps on extending for what appears to be an indefinite run, employing the time-honored Thrillpeddlers' tradition of rotating cast members and comeback performances, which means you could theoretically go multiple times and never see quite the same show twice. I certainly plan to. (Gluckstern)

The Little Foxes Tides Theatre, 533 Sutter, SF; www.tidestheatre.org. $20-38. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through Feb 23. Tides Theatre Company performs a modern take on the Lillian Hellman classic.

Se Llama Cristina Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; www.magictheatre.org. $22-60. Tue, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Feb 13, 2:30pm); Sun, 2:30pm. Through Feb 17. Magic Theatre performs the world premiere of Octavio Solis' multi-layered drama.

Manic Pixie Dream Girl ACT Costume Shop Theater, 1117 Market, SF; www.manicpixiedreamgirl.org. $25-35. Thu/7-Sun/10, 8pm. Billed as a "graphic-novel" play, first-time playwright Katie May's Manic Pixie Dream Girl reaches out to a demographic frequently left out of the theatrical conversation — the geek chic, 20-something set. Marrying projected panels of black-and-white graphic novel-style drawings with dialogue and action provided by the actors onstage, this PlayGround co-production attempts to combine two very different mediums into a smooth narrative, a rocky but valiant effort. Much of the live action appears cartoonish rather than nuanced, and the two central protagonists — struggling painter and wannabe graphic novel artist Tallman (Joshua Roberts) and his new muse Lilly (Lyndsy Kail), a waifish mute with pockets full of candy wrappers chance-met in his neighborhood dive bar — are awkwardly incomplete ciphers. If you're looking for the depth of detail and the visual impact of a Transmetropolitan or a Berlin, you won't find it in MPDG, but what you will get is a glad eyeful of Rob Dario's striking graphics, and some impeccable support acting courtesy of Lucas Hatton (who plays several welcome roles including a buttinsky, bro of a bartender and a "evil" real estate agent with all the charm and smarm of an overgrown frat boy), Liz Anderson's bitch-queen supernova ex-girlfriend, and Michal Barrett Austin's winsome cynicism as Tallman's best buddy. (Gluckstern)

Not a Genuine Black Man Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $25-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through Feb 23. What, the unapologetically middle-class Brian Copeland asks, is the real meaning behind the phrase "a genuine black man"? By way of an answer, the stand-up comic and KGO radio host offers up a simultaneously funny and disarmingly frank story about growing up African American in the racist suburb that was San Leandro in the early 1970s. Letting his narrative bounce back and forth between his boyhood memories and a period of depression that overtook him as a parent in 1999 — and interlacing the autobiography with verbatim utterances from both sides of the fight his family joined to desegregate the city — Copeland brings admirable chops as a comedian to bear on some difficult and disturbing, if ultimately hopeful, material. Note: review from an earlier run of the same show. (Avila)

Princess Ivona Performance Art Institute, 75 Boardman, SF; www.thecollectedworks.org. $20-30. Thu/7-Sat/9, 8pm. The first play by the great Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz (1904-1969) receives its first professional Northern California production in this admittedly uneven, sometimes sluggish but always intelligent and frequently inspired staging by newcomers the Collected Works. Set in the foyer and back room of co-presenter Performing Art Institute's spacious SOMA warehouse, the action — peppered throughout by old-time American ballads enchantingly rendered by musician-singer Meredith Axelrod — initially unfolds amid an audience milling around a pond. There a haughty prince (the sharp, charismatic Ryan Tacata) and his aristo pals make sport of the plebs until the Prince takes things too far by impetuously proposing marriage to a slow, anemic, deeply dull and disheveled young woman, the anti-heroine of the title (played with a moody lethargy and savage intelligence by Tonyanna Borkovi). As the audience and the characters, including the worried King (Barry Kendall) and Queen (Florentina Mocanu-Schendel), all retire to the court, the presence of Ivona becomes a catalyst for the unsettling of ill-feelings, bad memories, and ugly impulses formerly buried beneath a surface of the luxury, grandeur, and privilege of the beautiful people. The absurdity of their lives revealed, how will harmony be restored? Astutely staged by director and company-cofounder Michael Hunter, with excellent design support — including from costumer Latifa Medjdoub — this captivating play makes for a worthwhile outing and a very promising company debut. (Avila)

"Risk Is This...The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival" Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor, SF; www.cuttingball.com. Free ($20 for reserved seating; $50 for five-play reserved seating festival pass). Through Sat/9. Three new works (by Sean San José, Dipika Guha, and Basil Kreimendahl) and two new "Risk Translations."

Sex and the City: LIVE! Rebel, 1760 Market, SF; trannyshack.com/sexandthecity. $25. Wed, 7 and 9pm. Open-ended. Lady Bear, Trixie Carr, Heklina, and D'Arcy Drollinger star in this drag tribute to the long-running HBO show.

SF Sketchfest: The San Francisco Comedy Festival Various venues, SF; www.sfsketchfest.com. Ticket prices vary according to event. Through Sun/10. The popular fest returns for its 12th year, featuring an array of comedy programs including tributes to Portlandia, The Adventures of Pete and Pete, and Bruce Campbell; a series of Reggie Watts performances; film screenings; sketch and improv shows; and more.

The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $8-50. Sun, 11am. Extended through March 17. The Amazing Bubble Man (a.k.a. Louis Pearl) continues his family-friendly bubble extravaganza.

You Know When the Men Are Gone Z Space, 450 Florida, SF; www.zspace.org. $30-55. Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Feb 24. Word for Word performs two short stories by Siobhan Fallon (the author, not the film actor): "The Last Stand" and "Gold Star."


Acid Test: The Many Incarnations of Ram Dass Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Extended through Feb 17. Lynne Kaufman's new play stars Warren David Keith as the noted spiritual figure.

Hippy Icon, Flower Geezer and Temple of Accumulated Error Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Fri/8, 8pm; Sat/9, 5pm; Sun/10, 2pm. Wavy Gravy holds forth on his legendary life and times.

Our Practical Heaven Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org. $32-60. Tue and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm); Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through March 3. Anthony Clarvoe's new play receives its world premiere as a 2011 prizewinner in Aurora's Global Age Project (GAP), which cultivates new work addressing life in the 21st century. In the case of this labored and dull effort, the young century and its anxious outlook come refracted through three generations of women who gather for holidays at a seaside home whose own future is threatened by, first, financial and, ultimately, climatic conditions. Neurotic, self-absorbed Sasha (Anne Darragh) and capable businesswoman Willa (Julia Brothers) are middle-aged best friends forever who grew up in the home of Sasha's mother (Joy Carlin) and late father. Joining Sasha's two daughters by separate husbands, Suze (Blythe Foster) and Leez (Adrienne Walters), is Willa's daughter, Magz (Lauren Spencer), who suffers from a debilitating disease. Despite many personal and generational differences — and a rising conflict over the house — all six women share in a traditional bout of bird watching in this fragile nature "refuge" for bird and human alike. While bird watching supplies the play's operative metaphors, however, it does little to actually bring these characters together in any compelling or convincing way. In fact, respective backstories are pretty sketchy in general, dialogue strained and broadcasting, and performances correspondingly patchy. The three stage veterans in director Allen McKelvey's cast — Brothers, Carlin, and Darragh — go furthest toward making Clarvoe's leaden exposition somewhat buoyant, but the momentary pleasure they provide can't stem the overall tide. (Avila)

Somewhere Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro, Mtn View; www.theatreworks.org. $23-73. Wed/6, 7:30pm; Thu/7-Sat/9, 8pm (also Sat/9, 2pm); Sun/10, 2 and 7pm. TheatreWorks performs Matthew Lopez's play about a 1960s Puerto Rican family caught up in the filming of West Side Story.

Waiting for Godot Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; www.marintheatre.org. $36-52. Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Thu/7, 1pm; Feb 16, 2pm); Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Feb 17. Marin Theatre Company performs Samuel Beckett's modern classic.

The Wild Bride Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $35-89. Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through Feb 17. Berkeley Rep performs a return engagement of Emma Rice's grown-up fairy tale.


BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; www.improv.org. $20. "The Harold," Fri, 8pm. Through Feb. 22. "Warp Speed: An Improvised Trek!," Sat, 8pm. Through Feb 23.

Caroline Lugo and Carolé Acuña's Ballet Flamenco Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; www.carolinalugo.com. Sat/9, 6:15pm. $15-19. Flamenco performance by the mother-daughter dance company, featuring live musicians.

Company C Contemporary Ballet Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard, SF; www.ybca.org. Thu/7-Fri/8, 8pm; Sun/10, 3pm. $25-45. The company presents its winter program, including three premieres. Also: a gala performance with dinner and fundraising auction to follow, Sat/9, 6pm, $45-175.

"Cynic Cave" Cinecave (beneath Lost Weekend Video), 1034 Valencia, SF; facebook.com/cyniccave. Sat/9, 8pm. $10. Comedy with Toby Muresianu, Barbara Gray, Scott Boxenbaum, and more.

"A Doll's House" and "Tartuffe" ACT's Hastings Studio Theater, 77 Geary, SF; www.act-sf.org. $20. The ACT Master of Fine Arts Program performs two classics: Ibsen's A Doll's House (Wed/6-Sat/9, Feb 13, and 15, 7:30pm); and Molière's Tartuffe (Tue/12, Feb 14, and 16, 7:30pm; also feb 16, 2pm).

"In and Out of Shadow" Marsh, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. Fri/8-Sat/9, 8pm (also Sat/9, 2pm); Sun/10 and Feb 17, 3pm; Feb 16, 2pm. $12-35. Marsh Youth Theater's teen troupe performs Gary Soto's musical play, based on oral histories gathered by the young actors themselves.

"Lewis Black: The Rant is Due" Masonic Auditorium, 1111 California, SF; www.livenation.com. Sat/9, 8pm. $39.50-55.50. The comedian performs his latest stand-up show.

"Mischief" Skylark, 3089 16th St, SF; www.hunnybunnyburlesque.com. Fri/8, 8pm. Free. Burlesque with Hunny Bunny and her Hot Toddies.

"Playwrights Foundation 2013 Winter Rough Readings Series" NOH Space, 2840 Mariposa, SF; ACT Costume Shop, 1119 Market, SF; Stanford University, Roble Hall, Stanford; www.playwrightsfoundation.org. Free ($20 for reserved seat). This week, Mon/11, 7:30pm, Stanford; and Tue/12, 7pm, ACT Costume Shop: Jonathan Spector's In From the Cold.

"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.

"The Saroyan O-Neill Project" Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, 953 DeHaro, SF; www.wehavemet.org. Fri/8-Sat/9, 8pm; Sun/10, 7pm. $5-20. Postage Stamp Theater performs its inaugural show, classic one-acts by William Saroyan (Hello Out There) and Eugene O'Neill (The Long Vogage Home).

"Twisted Love: An Opera Night at the Mojo Theatre" Mojo Theatre, 2940 16th St, #217, SF; www.mojotheatre.com. Thu/7, 8pm. $8-15. Twisted, Valentine's Day-inspired takes on classic opera by 12 up-and-coming Bay Area vocalists.


"Dimensions Dance Theater's 40th Anniversary Kick-Off" Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon, Oakl; www.brownpapertickets.com. Sat/9, 8pm. $18-30. The company celebrates a landmark anniversary with a retrospective of traditional and contemporary works from artistic director Deborah Vaughan and others.

"The Shout: Life's True Stories" Grand Lake Coffee House, 440 Grand, Oakl; www.theshoutstorytelling.com. Mon/11, 7:30pm. $5-20. Live storytelling event featuring amazing-yet-true tales.

"Temporality" Mills College Art Museum, 5000 MacArthur, Oakl; www.thingamajigs.org. Sat/9, 8am-10pm. Free. Poet Stephen Ratcliffe and Thingamajigs Performance Group present a 14-hour work that draws from over 1,000 poems and combines spoken word, projected images, and other multimedia elements.