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.
"Master Harold" ... and the Boys Phoenix Theater, 414 Mason, Ste 601, SF; 1-800-838-3006, www.offbroadwaywest.org . $18-40. Opens Sat/15, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Nov 19. Off Broadway West Theatre Company performs Athol Fugard's South African-set drama.
On the Air Pier 29 on the Embarcadero (at Battery), SF; (415) 438-2668, love.zinzanni.org. $117 and up (includes dinner). Opens Thurs/13, 6pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 6pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Dec 31. Teatro ZinZanni's final performance at Pier 39 riffs on the company's own struggles to stay in San Francisco. Geoff Hoyle and Duffy Bishop are the headlining guest stars.
red, black & GREEN: a blues (rbGb) Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF; (415) 978-2787, www.ybca.org . $5-25. Opens Thurs/13, 7:30pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 7:30pm. Through Oct 22. Marc Bamuthi Joseph's world premiere is a collaborative, multimedia performance work and installation addressing environmental racism, social ecology, and other topics.
Inanna's Descent Codornices Park, 1201 Euclid, Berk; www.raggedwing.org . Free. Opens Sat/15, 1-5pm. Runs Sat-Sun, 1pm. Through Oct 30. Special Halloween show Oct 31, 5-8pm. Ragged Wing Ensemble presents its second annual "outdoor, site-specific, ritual performance event for Halloween."
"AfroSolo Arts Festival" Various venues, SF; www.afrosolo.org . Free-$100. Through Oct 20. The AfroSolo Theatre Company presents its 18th annual festival celebrating African American artists, musicians, and performers.
Alice Down the Rwong Wrabbit Whole Emerald Tablet, 80 Fresno, SF; (415) 500-2323, www.brownpapertickets.com . $15. Fri/14-Sat/15, 9pm. Karen Light and Edna Barrón perform their new comedy based on Alice in Wonderland.
Almost Nothing, Day of Absence Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, 450 Post, SF; (415) 474-8800, www.lhtsf.org . $43-53. Previews Wed/12-Thurs/13, 8pm. Opens Fri/14, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through Nov 20. Lorraine Hansberry Theatre performs one-act plays by Marcos Barbosa and Douglas Turner Ward.
Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief Boxcar Theatre Playhouse, 505 Natoma, SF; www.boxcartheatre.org . $15-35. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Nov 5. Boxcar Theatre performs Pauls Vogel's dark comedy, inspired by the three female characters from Shakespeare's Othello.
Honey Brown Eyes SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter, SF; (415) 677-9596, www.sfplayhouse.org . $20-50. Tues-Thurs, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm). Through Nov 5. Bosnia in 1992 is divided in a horrifying civil war, some characteristics of which play out in parallel circumstances for two members of a single rock band in SF Playhouse's west coast premiere of Stefanie Zadravec's new play. In the first act, set in Visegrad, a young Bosnian Muslim woman (Jennifer Stuckert) is held at gunpoint in her kitchen by a jumpy soldier (Nic Grelli) engaged in a mission of murder and dispossession known as ethnic cleansing. The second act moves to Sarajevo and the apartment of an elderly woman (Wanda McCaddon) who gives shelter and a rare meal to an army fugitive (Chad Deverman). He in turn keeps the bereaved if indomitable woman company. Director Susi Damilano and cast are clearly committed to Zadravec's ambitious if hobbled play, but the action can be too contrived and unrealistic (especially in act one) to be credible while the tone — zigzagging between the horror of atrocity and the offbeat gestures of romantic comedy — comes over as confused indecision rather than a deliberate concoction. (Avila)
The Kipling Hotel: True Misadventures of the Electric Pink '80s Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org . $15-50. Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Nov 13. Acclaimed solo performer Don Reed (East 14th) premieres his new show, based on his post-Oakland years living in Los Angeles.
Making Porn Box Car Theatre Studios, 125A Hyde, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com . $25-50. Thurs, 8pm; Fri-Sun, 7pm (also Fri-Sat, 10pm). Through Oct 29. Ronnie Larsen brings back his crowd-pleasing comedy about the gay porn industry.
Not Getting Any Younger Marsh San Francisco, Studio Theater, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 826-5750, www.themarsh.org . $15-50. Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Oct 23. Marga Gomez is back at the Marsh, a couple of too-brief decades after inaugurating the theater's new stage with her first solo show — an apt setting, in other words, for the writer-performer's latest monologue, a reflection on the inevitable process of aging for a Latina lesbian comedian and artist who still hangs at Starbucks and can't be trusted with the details of her own Wikipedia entry. If the thought of someone as perennially irreverent, insouciant, and appealingly immature as Gomez makes you depressed, the show is, strangely enough, the best antidote. (Avila)
Nymph Errant Eureka Theater, 215 Jackson, SF; (415) 255-8207, www.42ndstmoon.org . $20-50. Wed, 7pm; Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Oct 23. 42nd Street Moon performs Cole Porter's madcap 1933 musical.
*The Odyssey Aboard Alma, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, SF; www.weplayers.org . $160. Oct 28-29, Nov 4-6, 11-12, and 18, 12:30pm. Heralding their hugely ambitious Spring 2012 production of The Odyssey, which will take place all over Angel Island, the WE Players are tackling the work on a slightly smaller scale by staging it on the historic scow schooner Alma, which is part of the Maritime National Historical Park fleet docked at the end of Hyde Street Pier. Using both boat and Bay as setting, the essential chapters of the ten-year voyage — encounters with the Cyclops, Circe, the Underworld, the Sirens, Aeolus, the Laestrygonians, and Calypso — are enacted through an intriguing mash-up of narration, choreography, sea chanteys, salty dog stories (like shaggy dog stories, but more water-logged), breathtaking views, and a few death-defying stunts the likes of which you won't see on many conventional stages. High points include the casual swapping of roles (every actor gets to play Odysseus, however briefly), Ross Travis' masked and flatulent Prometheus and sure-footed Hermes, Ava Roy's hot pants-clad Circe, Charlie Gurke's steady musical direction and multi-instrumental abilities, and the sail itself, an experiential bonus. Landlubbers beware, so much time facing the back of the boat where much of the action takes place can result in mild quease, even on a calm day. Take advantage of the downtime between scenes to walk around and face forward now and again. You'll want to anyway. (Gluckstern) *Once in a Lifetime American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary, SF; (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org . $10-85. Wed/12-Sat/15, 8pm (also Wed/12 and Sat/15, 2pm); Sun/16, 2pm. Three enterprising small-time New York theater makers head to Hollywood as voice coaches for silent screen actors fumbling the transition to talkies in American Conservatory Theater's revival of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's first Broadway collaboration. Originally premiered in 1930, the satirical take on the industry and its corruption of art and more is ever apt if not exactly fresh, and not all the comedy in its hefty three acts still lands where it should. That said, you probably couldn't ask for a better revival of the piece, which retains much to admire and enjoy. Beautifully designed in grand fashion (including wowing sets by Daniel Ostling and snazzy costuming by Alex Jaeger), director Mark Rucker's slick and savvy production ensures a perfect pace and wonderfully sharp ensemble acting led by the terrific trio of Julia Coffey, Patrick Lane, and John Wernke — but including some notable turns in multiple roles, including by René Augesen, Margot Hall, and Will LeBow. Rucker inserts some choice period film clips (the mesmerizing moments speaking with perhaps inadvertent force to the power of the celluloid medium and its tensions with theater, a sub-theme of the story), while Alexander V. Nichols' video design adds further moment to this continent-crossing Hollywood escapade. (Avila)
"San Francisco Olympians Festival" Exit Theater, 156 Eddy, SF; www.sfolympians.com . Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 28. No Nude Men Productions presents a festival of 12 new full-length plays written by 14 local writers. Each play focuses on one of the Olympian characters from ancient Greece.
ShEvil Dead Cellspace, 2050 Bryant, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com . $25. Sat/15, Oct 21, and 28-29, 8pm. Primitive Screwheads return with a horror play (in which the audience is literally sprayed with blood, so leave the fancy suit at home!) based on the Evil Dead movies.
"Shocktoberfest 12: Fear Over Frisco" Hypnodrome Theatre, 575 10th St, SF; (415) 377-4202, www.thrillpeddlers.com . $25-35. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Nov 19. In its annual season-scented horror bid, Thrillpeddlers joins forces with SF's Czar of Noir, writer-director Eddie Muller, for a sharply penned triplet of plays that resurrect lurid San Francisco lore as flesh-and-blood action. In the slightly sluggish but intriguing Grand Inquisitor, a solitary young woman modeling herself on Louise Brooks in Lulu (an alluringly Lulu-like Bonni Suval) believes she has located the Zodiac killer's widow (a sweet but cagey Mary Gibboney) — a scenario that just can't end well for somebody, yet manages to defy expectations. An Obvious Explanation turns on an amnesiac (Daniel Bakken) whose brother (Flynn de Marco) explains the female corpse in the rollaway (Zelda Koznofski) before asking bro where he hid a certain pile of money. Enter a brash doctor (Suval) with a new drug and ambitions of her own vis-à-vis the hapless head case. Russell Blackwood directs The Drug, which adapts a Grand Guignol classic to the hoity-toity milieu of the Van Nesses and seedy Chinatown opium dens, where a rough-playing attorney (an ever persuasive Eric Tyson Wertz) determines to turn a gruesome case involving the duplicitous Mrs. Van Ness (an equally sure, sultry Kära Emry) to his own advantage. The evening also offers a blackout spook show and some smoothly atmospheric musical numbers, including Muller's rousing "Fear Over Frisco" (music composed by Scrumbly Koldewyn; accompaniment by Steve Bolinger and Birdie-Bob Watt) and an aptly low-down Irving Berlin number — both winningly performed by the entire company. (Avila)
Sorya! A Minor Miracle (Part One) NOHSpace, Project Artaud, 2840 Mariposa, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com . $12-18. Sun-Mon, 7pm. Through Oct 24. Each year, NOHspace residents Theatre of Yugen present a program of short Kyogen and Noh pieces, demonstrating the building blocks that define their unique approach. Blending classical Japanese theatrical styles with original and contemporary works, the company's multi-cultural ensemble has been performing their specialized brand of East-West fusion since 1978. This year's Sorya! program includes two modern-day works written by Greg Giovanni, a Philadelphia-based playwright and Noh artist, directed by Theatre of Yugen artistic director Jubilith Moore, and one traditional comedy, Boshibari (Tied to a Pole), directed by company founder Yuriko Doi. This piece is by far the strongest of the three, a tale of two servants pulling one over their master, who has tied them up in order to prevent them from breaking into the sake cellar. Lluis Valls and Sheila Berotti as Taro and Jiro execute the highly-ritualized aspects of the Kyogen farce with deft mobility and expressiveness, working together to overcome their captivity just enough to enjoy a few drinks before being discovered by their irate master (Sheila Devitt). The other two pieces, one set in Narnia and the other based on an Irish folk ballad, are less compelling, though no less ambitious, and Stephen Siegel and Karen Marek's joint performance as a pair of squabbling dwarves is worthy of praise. (Gluckstern)
*Tutor: Enter the Enclave Exit Studio, 156 Eddy, SF; (415) 673-3847, www.darkporchtheatre.com . $15-25. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 22. Dark Porch Theatre performs Martin Schwartz's play, inspired by an 18th century German drama, about a tutor who realizes the creepy family he works for is not quite what they seem.
Attempts on Her Life Zellerbach Playhouse, Bancroft at Telegraph, UC Berkeley, Berk; tdps.berkeley.edu. $15. Fri/14-Sat/15, 8pm; Sun/16, 2pm. "Annie" never appears onstage but is the much discussed, indeterminate subject of British playwright Martin Crimp's dazzling 1997 play, which spins the titular "her" into a postmodern cipher-self coughing up — in a shrewd, caustic, at times hilarious slew of discrete but interrelated scenes — the detritus of an international world/netherworld of consumerism, terrorism, media, and murder. The play, which premiered at the cusp of the millennium (and locally in a memorable 2002 production by foolsFURY), retains perhaps all of its original force in these menacing times, but unfortunately much of it is lost or diluted in director Scott Wallin's production for UC Berkeley's Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. The staging (set within a large initially bare stage with audience members on either side arena-style) holds some effective surprises, but is unhelpfully diffused or static at times, while the performance of the polyglot 10-actor ensemble is generally weak (the monologue "Kinda Funny" is one among a handful of notable exceptions), especially when the cast attempts singing and moving together. The decidedly mixed success here leaves room for another attempt soon on this elusive and stimulating work. (Avila)
Bellwether Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; (415) 388-5208, www.marintheatre.org . $34-55. Tues, Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat/15 and Oct 29, 2pm; Oct 20, 1pm); Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Oct 30. Marin Theatre Company performs Steve Yockey's spooky fairy tale for adults.
Clementine in the Lower 9 TheatreWorks at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro, Mtn View; (650) 463-1960, www.theatreworks.org . $19-69. Tues-Wed, 7:30pm; Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Oct 30. TheatreWorks presents the world premiere of Dan Dietz's post-Katrina New Orleans drama.
*A Delicate Balance Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org . $10-48. Tues, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Extended through Oct 23. Aurora Theatre performs Edward Albee's comedy of manners.
*Phaedra Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; (510) 841-6500, www.shotgunplayers.org . $17-26. Wed-Thurs, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Oct 23. Catherine (Catherine Castellanos) is the loveless matron in the impeccably tidy, upper-class home of middle-aged right-wing judge Antonio (Keith Burkland), secretly infatuated with her stepson (Patrick Alparone), the prodigal returning home from jail and rehab for a new start. Catherine's cold, obsessively ordered run of the household — with heavy-lifting by her cheerful, steadfast housekeeper (a wonderfully genuine Trish Mulholland) — masks a desolation and chaos inside her, a churning emptiness evoked in the deliberately listless pace of act one and the skudding clouds we can see reflected in the walls of designer Nina Ball's impressively stolid, icily tasteful living room. Portland Center Stage's Rose Riordan directs a strong cast (which includes Cindy Im, as the stepson's rehab partner and sexual interest) in a modern-day adaptation of the Greek myth by Adam Bock (The Shaker Chair, Swimming in the Shallows), in a worthy premiere for Shotgun Players. The drama comes leavened by Bock's well-developed humor and the dialogue, while inconsistent, can be eloquent. The storm that breaks in the second act, however, feels a bit compressed and, especially after the languid first act, contributes to a somewhat pinched narrative. But whatever its limitations, Catherine's predicament is palpably dramatic, especially in Castellanos's deeply moving performance — among her best work to date and alone worth giving Phaedra a chance. (Avila)
*Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org . $14.50-73. Tues-Sun, showtimes vary. Through Oct 30. The life of stage and screen legend Rita Moreno is a subject that has no trouble filling two swift and varied acts, especially as related in anecdote, song, comedy, and dance by the serene multiple–award-winning performer and Berkeley resident herself. Indeed, that so much material gets covered so succinctly but rarely abruptly is a real achievement of this attractively adorned autobiographical solo show crafted with playwright and Berkeley Rep artistic director Tony Taccone. (Avila)
The Taming of the Shrew Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Wy, Orinda; (510) 809-3290, www.calshakes.org . $35-66. Wed/12-Thurs/13, 7:30pm; Fri/14-Sat/15, 8pm; Sun/16, 4pm. California Shakespeare Theatre's last show of the season is a high-fashion, pop-art take on Shakespeare's battle of the sexes.
The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh Berkeley, TheaterStage, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 826-5750, www.themarsh.org . $8-50. Sun, 11am. Through Nov 20. Louis "The Amazing Bubble Man" Pearl returns with this kid-friendly, bubble-tastic comedy.
Alonzo King LINES Ballet Novellus Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Howard, SF; www.linesballet.org . Fri/14-Sat/15 and Oct 21-22, 8pm; Sun/15 and Oct 23, 5pm; Oct 19-20, 7:30pm. $15-65. The company performs its fall home season, featuring two world premieres.
"Hula Show 2011" Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon, SF; (415) 392-4400, www.cityboxoffice.com . Sat/15, Oct 21-22, 8pm; Sun/16, 4pm; Oct 23, noon (family matinee) and 4pm. $10-45. Patrick Makuakane's Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu performs its annual show mixing traditional and contemporary forms of hula, with special guests Golden Gate Men's Chorus.
*"PanderFest 2011" Stage Werx 446, 446 Valencia, SF; www.panderexpress.com . Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 29. $20. San Francisco's Crisis Hopkins and (PianoFight's S.H.I.T. Show makers) Mission Control join forces for a tag-team evening of sketch and "improv" (quotes kind of necessary this time). Claiming dubiously to fill a need for yet another festival in this city (though at the same time striving for above-average fawning of the public), the show delivers two acts of mostly spot-on comedy by two agreeable ensembles and is thus a fine night out anyway. The program (based rather loosely on online-video–generated audience suggestions, interspersed with the sneezing Panda baby and other YouTube perennials) also inaugurates Stage Werx's cozy new Mission District venue — the former digs of Intersection for the Arts and a huge improvement over Stage Werx's old subterranean lair on Sutter Street. Highlights of a ridiculous evening include a two-part Crisis Hopkins sketch detailing a site visit by a ball-wrecking contractor (Christy Daly) to her chary foreman (Sam Shaw) and his withering cherries; and Mission Control's pointed '70s TV show homage with a twist, Good Cop, Stab Cop. (Avila)
"San Francisco Trolley Dances 2011" Tours leave from SF Public Library, 100 Larkin, SF; (415) 226-1139, www.epiphanydance.org . Sat/15-Sun/16, every 45 minutes from 11am-2:45pm. Free with Muni fare ($2). Ephiphany Productions presents its eighth annual moving festival of local dance companies performing site-specific, outdoor pieces.
"To Bury a Cat: A Clown Show" NOHspace in Project Artaud, 2840 Mariposa, SF; 1-800-838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com . Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. $10. Theatre of Yugen's ARTburst Program presents this performance by Clowns On a Stick.
"Witches of Wonder" Big Umbrella Studios, 960 Divisadero, SF; www.bigumbrellastudios.com . Fri, 7pm. Free. All all-female cast sends up Halloween, Day of the Dead, and "all things goth" in this performance.