Theater Listings: April 9 - 15, 2014
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.
Fences Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; www.marintheatre.org. $37-58. Previews Thu/10-Sat/12, 8pm; Sun/13, 7pm. Opens Tue/15, 8pm. Runs Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also April 19, May 3, and May 10, 2pm; April 24, 1pm); Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through May 11. Marin Theatre Company performs August Wilson's Pulitzer- and Tony-winning drama, with an all-star cast of Bay Area talent: Carl Lumbly, Steven Anthony Jones, and Margo Hall.
Smash Dragon Theatre, 2120 Broadway, Redwood City; www.dragonproductions.net. $30. Previews Thu/10, 8pm. Opens Fri/11, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through May 4. Dragon Theatre performs Jeffrey Hatcher's political comedy.
Tribes Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-99. Previews Fri/11-Sat/12 and Tue/15, 8pm; Sun/13, 7pm. Opens April 16, 8pm. Runs Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Berkeley Rep performs Nina Raine's family drama about a young deaf man who comes of age.
Bauer San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post, SF; www.sfplayhouse.org. Tue-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm); Sun/13, 2pm. Through April 19. San Francisco Playhouse presents the world premiere of Lauren Gunderson's drama about artist Rudolf Bauer.
E-i-E-i-OY! In Bed with the Farmer's Daughter NOHSpace, 2840 Mariposa, SF; www.vivienstraus.com. $20. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through May 10. Vivien Straus performs her autobiographical solo show.
Every Five Minutes Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; www.magictheatre.org. $20-60. Tue, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Wed/9, 2:30pm); Sun, 2:30pm. Through April 20. Magic Theatre presents the world premiere of Linda McLean's drama about a man's homecoming after years behind bars.
Feisty Old Jew Marsh San Francisco Main Stage, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $25-100. Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Extended through May 4. Charlie Varon performs his latest solo show, a fictional comedy about "a 20th century man living in a 21st century city."
Foodies! The Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.foodiesthemusical.com. $32-34. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. AWAT Productions presents Morris Bobrow's musical comedy revue all about food.
The Habit of Art Z Below Theatre, 470 Florida, SF; www.therhino.org. $15-25. Wed/9-Sat/12, 8pm; Sun/13, 3pm. Theatre Rhinoceros performs a "very British comedy" by History Boys author Alan Bennett.
Hundred Days Z Space, 450 Florida, SF; www.zspace.org. $10-100. Thu/10-Sat/12, 8pm; Sun/13, 7pm. Married musical duo the Bengsons (Abigail and Shaun) provide the real-life inspiration and guiding rock 'n' roll heart for this uneven but at times genuinely rousing indie musical drama, a self-referential meta-theater piece relating the story of a young couple in 1940s America who fall madly in love only to discover one of them is terminally ill. As an exploration of love, mortality, and the nature of time, the story of Sarah and Will (doubled by the Bengsons and, in movement sequences and more dramatically detailed scenes, by chorus members Amy Lizardo and Reggie D. White) draws force from the potent musical performances and songwriting of composer-creators Abigail and Shaun Bengson (augmented here by the appealing acting-singing chorus and backup band that also feature El Beh, Melissa Kaitlyn Carter, Geneva Harrison, Kate Kilbane, Jo Lampert, Delane Mason, Joshua Pollock). Playwright Kate E. Ryan's book, however, proves too straightforward, implausible, and sentimental to feel like an adequate vessel for the music's exuberant, urgent emotion and lilting, longing introspection. Other trappings of director Anne Kauffman's elaborate production (including an inspired set design by Kris Stone that echoes the raw industrial shell of the theater; and less-than-inspired choreography by the otherwise endlessly inventive Joe Goode) can add texture at times but also prove either neutral figures or distracting minuses in conveying what truth and heft there is in the material. Ultimately, this still evolving world premiere has a strong musical beat at its core, which has a palpable force of its own, even if it's yet to settle into the right combination of story and staging. (Avila)
I Never Lie: The Pinocchio Project Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason, SF; www.99stockproductions.org. $15. Thu/10-Sat/12, 8pm. 99 Stock Productions performs Meredith Eden's bold fairytale retelling.
Lovebirds Marsh San Francisco Studio, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thu/10-Fri/11, 8pm; Sat/12, 8:30pm. Theater artist and comedian Marga Gomez presents the world premiere of her 10th solo show, described as "a rollicking tale of incurable romantics."
Painting the Clouds With Sunshine Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.42ndStMoon.org. $25-75. Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm (also Sat/12, 1pm); Sun, 3pm. Through April 20. 42nd Street Moon performs a world premiere, a first for the company: Greg MacKellan and Mark D. Kaufmann's tribute to songs from 1930s movie musicals.
Pearls Over Shanghai Hypnodrome Theatre, 575 10th St, SF; www.thrillpeddlers.com. $30-35. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through May 31. Thrillpeddlers present the fifth anniversary revival production of its enormously popular take on the 1971 Cockettes musical.
The Scion Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-60. Thu-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through April 18. In his latest solo show, Brian Copeland (Not a Genuine Black Man; The Waiting Period) explores an infamous crime in his hometown of San Leandro: the 2000 murder of three government meat inspectors by Stuart Alexander, owner of the Santos Linguisa Factory. The story is personal history for Copeland, at least indirectly, as the successful comedian and TV host recounts growing up nearby under the common stricture that "rules are rules," despite evidence all around that equity, fairness, and justice are in fact deeply skewed by privilege. Developed with director David Ford, the multiple-character monologue (delivered with fitful humor on a bare-bones stage with supportive sound design by David Hines) contrasts Copeland's own youthful experiences as a target of racial profiling with the way wealthy and white neighbor Stuart Alexander, a serial bully and thug, consistently evaded punishment and even police attention along his path to becoming the "Sausage King," a mayoral candidate, and a multiple murderer (Alexander died in 2005 at San Quentin). The story takes some meandering turns in making its points, and not all of Copeland's characterizations are equally compelling. The subject matter is timely enough, however, though ironically it is government that seems to set itself further than ever above the law as much as wealthy individuals or the bogus "legal persons" of the corporate world. The results of such concentrated power are indeed unhealthy, and literally so — Copeland's grandmother (one of his more persuasive characterizations) harbors a deep distrust of processed food that is nothing if not prescient — but The Scion's tale of two San Leandrans leaves one hungry for more complexity. (Avila)
She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange Thick House, 1695 18th St, SF; www.crowdedfire.org. $15-35. Wed/9-Sat/12, 8pm. Crowded Fire offers a fine West Coast premiere of a clever if less than satisfying satire of the nouveaux riche and pauvre by American playwright Amelia Roper, in which two married couples meet on the grass of their neighborhood park and unravel their tangled, starkly childlike relations and dreams. Amy (a sharp and spirited Zehra Berkman) is a smart and restless woman who knows what she wants and can get it too, but without the slightest idea of how to sit comfortably still and enjoy a sunny Sunday morning. Her husband, Henry (a droll, unfussy, good-natured George Sellner), is clearly the antidote to the corporate jungle Amy works in, an agreeably boyish nurse and nurturer, who alleviates the stress of his own workweek in a children's cancer ward with a scoop of strawberry-flavored ice cream on a cone. Soon they are sharing their modest picnic blanket with a bounding, slightly older couple, well-pampered housewife Sara (Marilee Talkington, alternately splendid and deflated in a beautifully modulated performance) and bank-owning breadwinner Max (an equally dynamic Kevin Clarke, outwardly suave yet reveling in Ubu-esque paroxysms of infantile yearning). Against a backdrop of post-pastoral suburban ease (succinctly evoked in scenic designer Maya Linke's dangling mobiles, a lovely abstraction of dappled light and trees), we see the couples first commiserate then trade places, like pirate ships on the high seas of finance capitalism. Yet their viciousness has a gentleness around it too, like children playing pirates. In their jockeying, they seem both utterly willful and beyond their ken, while the triumphs and possibilities of a bygone innocence reassert themselves in unguarded moments like a lost Eden. If anything, the play hits its themes (including this sandbox metaphor) a little too forcefully even for satire, and its fleet 80 minutes get only so far in producing a sense of personal and systemic exhaustion as well as transcendence. The play's agile humor and director M. Graham Smith's strong and astute cast make the going a pleasure, however, even if we leave wanting a deeper excavation of that pristine lawn. (Avila)
Shit & Champagne Rebel, 1772 Market, SF; shitandchampagne.eventbrite.com. $25. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. D'Arcy Drollinger is Champagne White, bodacious blond innocent with a wicked left hook in this cross-dressing '70s-style white-sploitation flick, played out live on Rebel's intimate but action-packed barroom stage. Written by Drollinger and co-directed with Laurie Bushman (with high-flying choreography by John Paolillo, Drollinger, and Matthew Martin), this high-octane camp send-up of a favored formula comes dependably stocked with stock characters and delightfully protracted by a convoluted plot (involving, among other things, a certain street drug that's triggered an epidemic of poopy pants) — all of it played to the hilt by an excellent cast that includes Martin as Dixie Stampede, an evil corporate dominatrix at the head of some sinister front for world domination called Mal*Wart; Alex Brown as Detective Jack Hammer, rough-hewn cop on the case and ambivalent love interest; Rotimi Agbabiaka as Sergio, gay Puerto Rican impresario and confidante; Steven Lemay as Brandy, high-end calf model and Champagne's (much) beloved roommate; and Nancy French as Rod, Champagne's doomed fiancé. Sprawling often literally across two buxom acts, the show maintains admirable consistency: The energy never flags and the brow stays decidedly low. (Avila)
The Speakeasy Undisclosed location (ticket buyers receive a text with directions), SF; www.thespeakeasysf.com. $70 (gambling chips, $5-10 extra; after-hours admission, $10). Thu-Sat, 7:40, 7:50, and 8pm admittance times. Extended through May 24. Boxcar Theater's most ambitious project to date is also one of the more involved and impressively orchestrated theatrical experiences on any Bay Area stage just now. An immersive time-tripping environmental work, The Speakeasy takes place in an "undisclosed location" (in fact, a wonderfully redesigned version of the company's Hyde Street theater complex) amid a period-specific cocktail lounge, cabaret, and gambling den inhabited by dozens of Prohibition-era characters and scenarios that unfold around an audience ultimately invited to wander around at will. At one level, this is an invitation to pure dress-up social entertainment. But there are artistic aims here too. Intentionally designed (by co-director and creator Nick A. Olivero with co-director Peter Ruocco) as a fractured super-narrative — in which audiences perceive snatches of overheard stories rather than complete arcs, and can follow those of their own choosing — there's a way the piece becomes specifically and ever more subtly about time itself. This is most pointedly demonstrated in the opening vignettes in the cocktail lounge, where even the ticking of Joe's Clock Shop (the "cover" storefront for the illicit 1920s den inside) can be heard underscoring conversations (deeply ironic in historical hindsight) about war, loss, and regained hope for the future. For a San Francisco currently gripped by a kind of historical double-recurrence of the roaring Twenties and dire Thirties at once, The Speakeasy is not a bad place to sit and ponder the simulacra of our elusive moment. (Avila)
"Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays" New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through April 27. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs short plays about marriage equality by Mo Gaffney, Neil LaBute, Wendy MacLeod, Paul Rudnick, and others.
Top Girls Gough Street Playhouse, 1620 Gough, SF; www.custommade.org. $15-35. Thu/10-Sat/12, 8pm; Sun/13, 7pm. Custom Made Theatre Company performs Caryl Churchill's celebration of powerful women.
The Two Chairs Bindlestiff Studios, 185 Sixth St, SF; www.performersunderstress.com. $10-30. Thu/10-Sat/12, 8pm; Sun/13, 2pm. In this world premiere by Performers Under Stress of its co-founder Charles Pike's play, two chairs, per title, come matched with two cameras projecting two angles on two characters — He (Vince Faso, alternating nights with Duane Lawrence) and She (Juliana Egley, alternating nights with Valerie Fachman) — who sit at right angles to one another in a series of terse, vaguely clinical encounters. Introduced and concluded each time with cheeky inter-titles (à la Beckett) and the sound of a buzzer (à la Beckett — pretty much everything here is à la Beckett), their interactions unfold as progressive variations on a theme, freighted with references to the Goldberg Variations and other pretentious class markers (belied somewhat by the characters' less than wholly sophisticated demeanors). Each mysterious not to say unorthodox session also concludes with a limp slap and the exchange of an envelope, as a banal male heterosexual masochist fantasy is jokily and tediously pursued to the point of He's final erasure. Directed by PUS's Scott Baker, the production adds a generational variation too across the alternating casts. But at least with the younger cast (Faso and Egley), the exploration comes across as glib and lifeless, and Pike's self-conscious regression to an old-school avant-garde style feels too ersatz to be persuasive. (Avila)
Venus in Fur Geary Theater, 415 Geary, SF; www.act-sf.org. $20-120. Wed/9-Sat/12, 8pm (also Sat/12, 2pm); Sun/13, 7pm. American Conservatory Theater performs a new production of David Ives' 2012 Tony-nominated play.
The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $8-11. Sun, 11am. Extended through May 25. The popular, kid-friendly show by Louis Pearl (aka "The Amazing Bubble Man") returns to the Marsh.
Accidental Death of an Anarchist Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-99. Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (no show April 18; also Sat and April 17, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through April 20. Berkeley Rep presents comic actor Steven Epp in Dario Fo's explosive political farce, directed by Christopher Bayes.
Arms and the Man Barn Theatre, 30 Sir Francis Drake, Ross; www.rossvalleyplayers.com. $13-26. Thu/10, 7:30pm; Fri/11-Sat/12, 8pm; Sun/13, 2pm. Ross Valley Players perform George Bernard Shaw's romantic comedy.
The Coast of Utopia Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $20-35 (three-show marathon days, $100-125). Part One: Voyage runs through April 17; Part Two: Shipwreck runs through April 19; Part Three: Salvage runs through April 27. Three-play marathon April 26. Through April 27. Check website for showtime info. Shotgun Players performs Tom Stoppard's epic The Coast of Utopia trilogy, with all three plays performed in repertory.
East 14th Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Through April 26. Don Reed's hit autobiographical solo show returns to the Marsh Berkeley.
Geezer Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $25-50. Thu, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through April 26. Geoff Hoyle moves his hit comedy about aging to the East Bay.
The Hound of the Baskervilles Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro, SF; www.theatreworks.org. $19-73. Tue-Wed, 7:30pm; Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through April 27. TheatreWorks performs Stephen Canny and John Nicholson's comedic send-up of Sherlock Holmes.
Johnny Guitar, the Musical Masquers Playhouse, 105 Park Place, Point Richmond; www.masquers.org. $22. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through April 26. Masquers Playhouse performs the off-Broadway hit based on the campy Joan Crawford Western.
Sleuth Center REPertory Company, 1601 Civic, Walnut Creek; www.centerrep.org. $33-54. Wed, 7:30pm; Thu-Sat, 8pm (also April 26, 2:30pm); Sun, 2:30pm. Through April 26. Center REPertory Company performs Anthony Shaffer's classic, Tony-winning thriller.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College, Berk; www.berkeleyplayhouse.org. $18-60. Fri, April 24, and May 1, 7pm; Sat, 1 and 6pm; Sun, noon and 5pm. Through May 4. Berkeley Playhouse performs the Tony-winning musical comedy.
Vampire Lesbians of Sodom and Sleeping Beauty or Coma Live Oaks Theater, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; www.viragotheatre.org. $28. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through April 19. Virago Theatre Company performs Charles Busch's outrageous double bill.
Wittenberg Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org. $32-60. Previews Wed/9, 8pm. Opens Thu/10, 8pm. Runs Tue, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through May 4. Aurora Theatre Company performs David Davalos' comedy about reason versus faith.
BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason Center, SF; www.improv.org. $20. "Super Scene," Fri, 8pm. Through April 25. "Spring Musical," Sat, 8pm. Through April 26.
"The Big Gay Comedy Show" Marines' Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter, SF; www.richmondermet.org. Sun/13, 7:30pm. $35-70. Benefit for the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation with Bruce Vilanch, Marga Gomez, Shann Carr, Ali Mafi, and others.
Caroline Lugo and Carolé Acuña's Ballet Flamenco Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; www.carolinalugo.com. Sat/12, April 19, 30, May 4, 10-11, 17, and 25, 6:15pm. $15-19. Flamenco performance by the mother-daughter dance company, featuring live musicians.
"CubaCaribe Festival of Dance and Music" Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri/11-Sat/12, 8pm; Sun/13, 7pm. $27. "Week One: Moving Forward" with Alafia Dance Ensemble (Haiti), Alayo Dance Company (Afro-Cuban), Cunamacué (Peru), Duniya Dance and Drum Company (West Africa), Las Que Son Son (Cuba), Las Puras (US), and Nicole Klaymoon's Embodiment Project (African Diaspora).
"Dream Queens Revue" Aunt Charlie's Lounge, 133 Turk, SF; www.dreamqueensrevue.com. Wed/9, 9:30pm. Free. Drag with Collette LeGrande, Ruby Slippers, Sophilya Leggz, Bobby Ashton, and more.
Feinstein's at the Nikko 222 Mason, SF; www.feinsteinssf.com. Fri/11, 8pm. $60-75. Joan Collins in "One Night with Joan."
"Invidious" Private Mission District home, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Thu/10-Sun/13, 6:30 and 9pm. $40. Contemporary dance company FACT/SF performs a new, site-specific work.
"The Life You'll Never Have" Stage Werx Theatre, 446 Valencia, SF; www.foulplaysf.com. Wed/9, 7pm writing party; 8pm performance. $20. The audience crafts each evening's soap opera-inspired play at this interactive, immersive performance by Exquisite Corpse Theatre.
"Magic at the Rex" Hotel Rex, 562 Sutter, SF; www.magicattherex.com. Sat, 8pm. Ongoing. $25. Magic and mystery with Adam Sachs and mentalist Sebastian Boswell III.
"Mischief" Skylark Bar, 3089 16th St, SF; www.hunnybunnyburlesque.com. Fri/11, 8pm. Free. Burlesque and variety show.
"Mission in Motion" Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St, SF; www.brava.org. Sun/13, 3pm. $5-10. Mission Academy for the Performing Arts presents a showcase and benefit for Brava youth performing arts programs.
"Mortified" DNA Lounge, 375 11th St, SF; www.getmortified.com. Fri/11, 7:30pm. $21. Also Sat/12, 8pm, $20, Uptown, 1928 Telegraph, Oakl. Fearless storytellers share their most adorably embarrassing childhood writings.
"Rotunda Dance Series" San Francisco City Hall, 1 Carlton B. Goodlett Place, SF; www.dancersgroup.org. Fri/11, noon. Free. This month, the Tiruchitrambalam School of Dance performs classical Indian dance.
"San Francisco Comedy College" Purple Onion at Kells, 530 Jackson, SF; www.purpleonionatkells.com. $5-10. "New Talent Show," Wed-Thu, 7. Ongoing. "The Cellar Dwellers," stand-up comedy, Wed-Thu, 8:15pm and Fri-Sat, 7:30pm. Ongoing.
"Shotz: EarthTax" Tides Theatre, 533 Sutter, SF; www.amiosnyc.com. Tue/15, 8pm. $10. Seven plays, five minutes each, created in less than a month, and united under the theme "EarthTax."
Terminator Too: Judgment Play DNA Lounge, 373 11th St, SF; www.dnalounge.com. May 1, 9pm. $25-50. The creators of Point Break Live! take on James Cameron's 1991 sci-fi classic, with an audience member picked on the night of the show to embody Schwarzenegger's iconic role.
"Yuri and Friends presents Thai Rivera" Punch Line Comedy Club, 444 Battery, SF; www.punchlinecomedyclub.com. Tue/15, 8pm. $15. Stand-up comedy.
AXIS Dance Company Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice, Oakl; axisdance.brownpapertickets.com. Fri/11-Sat/12, 8pm; Sun/13, 2pm. $10-25. The company performs Yvonne Rainer's iconic Trio A.
Diablo Ballet Hillbarn Theatre, 1285 E. Hillsdale, Foster City; www.diabloballet.org. Fri/11-Sat/12, 8pm. $45. The company's 20th season continues with Emotions into Movement.
"IMPACT" Odell Johnson Theater, Laney College, 900 Fallon, Oakl; www.destinyarts.org. Fri/11-Sat/12, 7:30pm (also Sat/12, 2pm). $13-30. Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company celebrates the youth arts and violence prevention organization's 25th anniversary with this world-premiere show, a mix of dance, theater, spoken word, rap, and song.
"MarshJam Improv Comedy Show" Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. Fri, 8pm. Ongoing. $10. Improv comedy with local legends and drop-in guests.
"A Month in the Country" Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. Tue/15, 7pm. $20. Staged reading of Ivan Turgenev's play presented by Shotgun Players.
"Stand-Up Sit-Down" La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck, Berk; www.lapena.org. Fri/11, 8pm. $15. Comedy and interview show with Karinda Dobbins and Dhaya Lakshminarayanan.