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. For complete listings, see www.sfbg.com .
Silk Stockings Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson; 255-8207, www.42ndstmoon.org . $24-44. Previews Wed/4, 7pm; Thurs/5-Fri/6, 8pm. Opens Sat/7, 6pm. Runs Wed, 7pm; Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm; Sun, 3pm. Through May 22. 42nd Street Moon presents a Cole Porter production.
Absolutely San Francisco Alcove Theater, 414 Mason; 992-8168, www.absolutelysanfrancisco.com . $32-50. Check for dates and times. Open-ended. Not Quite Opera Productions presents a musical.
*Caliente Pier 29, The Embarcadero; 438-2668, www.love.zinzanni.org . $117-145. Wed-Sat, 6pm; Sun, 5pm. Open-ended. Ricardo Salinas, cofounder of famed Mission-born radical Latino comedy trio Culture Clash, penetrates the velvet enclave of Teatro ZinZanni, taking the helm for its latest Euro-style dinner-cirque cabaret show. Under Salinas' inspired direction, the evening plays as a revolt by brown-hued kitchen and wait staff against a ruthless takeover by, what else, a Chinese conglomerate. Multiculti clashes ensue, with the underdogs led by a brother-sister team played charmingly by ZinZanni regulars Christine Deaver and Robert Lopez, and with much expert repartee and physical humor neatly enveloping characteristically stunning feats of acrobatics and circus arts that leave forkfuls of grub hovering before slack-jawed mouths. I don't know how many actual kitchen staffers out there can afford the ticket price (though it does come with a tasty five-course meal in addition to a first-class show), but the blend of Salinas and company's shrewd if subdued social commentary and big-heated Latin-fueled humor—not to mention the exquisite musical numbers featuring guest star Rebekah Del Rio—lead to something altogether harmonious. (Avila)
Cancer Cells The Garage, 975 Howard; 518-1517, www.975howard.com . $15. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through May 22. Performers Under Stress and directors Geoff Bangs and Scott Baker offer this well-conceived program of late Pinter works, a total of nine plays and poems intelligently arranged and unevenly but in some cases vibrantly performed (especially in the case of One for the Road) in a fleet 90-minute evening. With the titular poem, written as the esteemed playwright was undergoing chemo (and recited here with somewhat unnecessary emotion by Valerie Fachman), a telling definition of cancer cells arises: "They have forgotten how to die/ And so extend their killing life." Given the unbridled political nature of the work that follows—including the devastatingly stark (yet ever articulate to the point of being unexpected) dramatic vocabulary of Mountain Language, a compact depiction and rumination on state-sponsored genocide—those cancer cells grow out of their literal referent into a literary metaphor for the warping, perverting, and devastating consequences of supreme, unchecked power and its Olympian delusions. Pinter's late works, written with a pronounced urgency in the face of ever-widening war and genocide, advance his shrewd and potent ability for exposing the obscenity beneath the shell games of language as deployed by power in pursuit of its imperial and totalitarian aims. (Avila)
Collected Stories Stage Werx, 533 Sutter; Z(800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com . $20-25. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/ 7. Stage Werx presents David Margulies' drama about art, ethics, and betrayal.
Cordelia NOHspace, 2840 Mariposa; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com . $18-20. Wed-Thurs, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/7. Theatre of Yugen presents world premiere of an abstraction of Shakespeare's King Lear.
Devil/Fish 2781 24th St; www.cirquenoveau.com . $26. Fri-Sat, 7pm; Sun, 6pm. Through May 22. Cirque Noveau presents a story involving aerial performance, acrobatics, and more.
*Geezer Marsh, 1062 Valencia; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org . $20-50. Thurs, 8pm; Sat, 5pm; Sun, 3pm. Through July 10. The Marsh presents a new solo show about aging and mortality by Geoff Hoyle.
*Killer Queen: The Story of Paco the Pink Pounder Michael the Boxer Gym and Barbershop, 96 Lafayette; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com . $20. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Sun/8. The boxing ring is no metaphor in Killer Queen, a vital and walloping new solo play by Peter Griggs set in a small, real-life boxing gym in SoMa (before moving to another in Los Angeles later in the run). And yet the ring—around which a privileged audience is excitingly pressed—encompasses so much of the queer American experience since the 1970s and '80s that every punch, literary or otherwise, reverberates with wider significance and poetical precision. Griggs, as a gay youth of color who grows up to be the first openly gay title holder in his class, occupies that ring and that life with a rare and utterly persuasive intensity as he alternately cajoles, flirts with, dismisses, and even menaces his audience between a captivating narrative and highly credible boxing choreography (including a tense training scene with the gym's Michael Onello). An effeminate boy growing up in a violently homophobic society, "Paco" (as he's nicknamed despite not being Latino) discovers boxing—and Queen—in time to save his life, thanks to two crucial surrogate fathers. Set to the music of the seminal rock band (sometimes using original recordings, sometimes interpretations by nearby piano accompanist Stephen Mello), the music is, like the ring, anything but arbitrary, and beautifully deployed overall. There are some rough or abrupt transitions and some muddiness in the underscoring of dialogue, but these are minor and passing and hardly take away from a unique, enthralling work directed with incisive attention to emotional as well as social truths by Wolfgang Wachalovsky (cofounder of queer performance incubator THEOFFCENTER, which co-produced with Burning Monk Collective). Indeed, it's the very rawness around the edges of this studiously developed piece—including a passionate digression concerning the current "It Gets Better" campaign pitched at queer youth—that gives it an immediate and politically-charged quality above and beyond the electricity of the setting and the pulsating athletic movement it foregrounds. Beyond the stage-ring, moreover, the play remains as serious as its site-specific setting: its development has led to the founding in LA of an Empowerment Center for disadvantaged queer youth as well as the first Gay Boxing League. (Avila)
Loveland The Marsh, 1062 Valencia; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org . $20-35. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm (also Sun/8, 7pm). Through Sun/8. Ann Rudolph's one-woman show continues its successful run.
Party of 2 — The New Mating Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter; 1-800-838-3006, www.partyof2themusical.com . $27-29. Fri, 9pm. Open-ended. A musical about relationships by Shopping! The Musical author Morris Bobrow.
Secret Identity Crisis SF Playhouse, Stage 2, 533 Sutter; 869-5384, www.un-scripted.com . $10-20. Thurs-Sat, 8pm (no show Sat/7). Through May 14. Un-Scripted Theater Company presents a story about unmasked heroes.
Shopping! The Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter; (800) 838-3006, www.shoppingthemusical.com . $27-29. Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. A musical comedy revue about shopping by Morris Bobrow.
A Streetcar Named Desire Actors Theatre, 855 Bush; 345-1287, www.actorstheatresf.org . $26-38. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through June 4. Actors Theatre of San Francisco presents the Tennessee Williams tale.
Talking With Angels Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com . $21-35. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through May 21. A play by Shelley Mitchell set in Nazi-occupied Hungary.
Vice Palace: The Last Cockettes Musical Thrillpeddlers' Hypnodrome, 575 10th St; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com . $30-35. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through July 31. Thrillpeddlers presents composer Scrumbly Koldewyn's revival of the 1972 musical revue.
East 14th – True Tale of a Reluctant Player The Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston Way, Berk; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org . $20-50. Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Sun/8. Don Reed's one-man show continues.
*Eccentricities of a Nightingale Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org . $10-55. Tues, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Sun/8. Bracketed literally from beginning to end by fireworks, Aurora Theatre's production of Tennessee Williams' The Eccentricities of a Nightingale offers some serious bang. On the surface, a tragic-comic tale of unrequited love in small-town Mississippi, Eccentricities plunges into deeper waters, exploring the ever-waged war between societal norms and its misfits -- and the struggle to remain true to oneself -- with a subtly layered approach. Protagonist Alma (Beth Wilmurt), the titular Nightingale, isolated by her complicated family circumstances and her own mild eccentricities, carries a long-burning torch for the boy-next-door, a rather callow young doctor (Thomas Gorrebeeck) with a terrifyingly overprotective mother (Marcia Pizzo). But Alma's yearning, as much habit as attraction, has less to do with a dream of settling down with a nice doctor husband, but rather of freeing herself from the conventions that threaten to crush her spirit. Alma's nervous artistic temperament hides a solidly pragmatic core, and when she has her young doctor alone in a hotel room at last, her plea for him to "give me an hour and I'll make a lifetime of it," rings not of desperation but of the adventure she craves. Director Tom Ross deftly brings out the gentle humor and bittersweet victory in the text via a strong cast and stellar design team. (Gluckstern)
Lady With All the Answers Center REPertory Company, Lesher Center for the Arts, Knight Stage 3 Theatre, 1601 Civic Center, Walnut Creek; (925) 943-SHOW, www.centerrep.org . $45. Thurs-Sat, 8:15pm; Sun, 2:15pm. Through May 15. Center REPpresents Kerri Shawn's one-woman play about Ann Landers.
Not a Genuine Black Man The Marsh Berkeley, TheaterStage, 2120 Allston Way, Berk; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org . $20-50. Thurs, 7:30pm. Through Thurs/5. Brian Copeland's one-man show continues.
Out of Sight The Marsh Berkeley, Theaterstage, 2120 Allston Way, Berk; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org . $20-50. Sat, 5pm (no show Sat/9); Sun, 3pm. Through May 8. Sara Felder's one-woman show returns.
Passion Play Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 649-5999, www.aeofberkeley.org . $10-15. Fri-Sat, 7pm (also Sun/8, and may 15, 2pm). Through May 21. Actors Ensemble of Berkeley presents the West Coast premiere of a time-travel play by Sarah Ruhl.
Three Sisters Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org . $29-73. Dates and times vary. Through May 22. Berkeley Rep presents a new version of Chekhov's 1901 play by Sarah Ruhl (In the Next Room, Eurydice), directed by Les Waters. The language sounds generally and pleasingly modern in the mouths of the titular Prozorov sisters—Olga (Wendy Rich Stetson), Masha (Natalia Payne), and Irina (Heather Wood)—although the production is rather traditional in staging (period set by Annie Smart, and corresponding costumes by Ilona Somogyi). We follow the restless siblings and their flock of soldier-admirers through a handful of years in their provincial town, where their late father was an elite military officer. In this period, the dashing officer Vershinin (Bruce McKenzie) brings a spark of new life—especially to the unhappily married Masha—and stokes the sisters' ultimately unanswered desire to return to their beloved Moscow. The production breathes a good deal of life into the play, whose half-foolish and heartbreakingly funny characters so palpably exude a complex set of longings and misplaced desires, but it labors under an initial stiffness and a somewhat jagged set of performances. (Payne's twitchy Masha, for instance, whose features maintain throughout a look of unwelcome surprise, feels incongruent at times). Some of the more moving turns concentrate here in the supporting characters, including James Carpenter as Chebutykin, the fawning old doctor who has forgotten all he used to know; Thomas Jay Ryan as Tuzenbach, the self-conscious Russian of German descent desperately smitten with Irina; and Alex Moggridge as the sisters' much put-upon, feckless, alternately gentle and petulant brother, Andrei. (Avila)
The World's Funniest Bubble Show The Marsh Berkeley, Cabaret, 2120 Allston Way, Berk; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org . $8-50. Through July 10. The Amazing Bubble Man performs.
DIVAfest EXIT Theatre, 156 Eddy; 673-3847, www.theexit.org . Check for times and prices. Through May 28. Plays and performances by women artists, including Maggie Cronin, Christina Augello, Margery Fairchild, Cheryl Smith, and Diane di Prima.