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 .
The Bereaved Thick House, 1695 18th St, SF; www.crowdedfire.org . $10-35. Previews Thu/4-Sat/6, 8pm. Opens Mon/8, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through April 27. Crowded Fire Theater launches its Mainstage season with Thomas Bradshaw's wicked comedy about "sex, drugs, and the American dream."
Carnival! Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.42ndstreetmoon.org . $25-75. Previews Wed/3, 7pm; Thu/4-Fri/5, 8pm. Opens Sat/6, 6pm. Runs Wed, 7pm; Thu-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm (also April 13, 1pm); Sun, 3pm. Through April 21. 42nd Street Moon performs the Tony Award-winning musical.
Show Me Yours: Songs of Innocence and Experience Alcove Theater, 414 Mason, Ste 502, SF; www.thealcovetheater.com . $27. Opens Thu/5, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through April 27. New Musical Theater of San Francisco performs a new musical revue written by Pen and Piano, the company's resident group of writers and composers.
The Arsonists Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org . $35-60. Previews Fri/5-Sat/6 and April 10, 8pm; Sun/7, 2pm; Tue/9, 7pm. Opens April 11, 8pm. Runs Tue and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm); Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through May 12. Aurora Theatre Company performs Max Frisch's classic comic parable, translated by Alistair Beaton.
Being Earnest Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro, Mtn View; www.theatreworks.org . $23-73. Previews Wed/3-Fri/5, 8pm. Opens Sat/6. Runs Tue-Wed, 7:30pm; Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through April 28. TheatreWorks performs the world premiere of Paul Gordon's musical take on Oscar Wilde's comedy.
Love Letters Various Marin County venues; www.porchlight.net . $15-30. April 5-28. Porch Light Theater performs A.R. Gurney's romantic play at four different Marin venues; check website for addresses and showtimes.
"Pear Slices" Pear Avenue Theatre, 1220 Pear, Mtn View; www.thepear.org . $10-30. Previews Thu/4, 8pm. Opens Fri/5, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through April 28. Nine original short plays by members of the Pear Playwrights Guild.
The Bus New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org . $32-45. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through April 28. NCTC performs James Lantz's tale of two young men whose meeting place for their secret relationship is a church bus.
The Chairs Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor, SF; www.cuttingball.com . $20-45. Thu/4, 7:30pm; Fri/5-Sat/6, 8pm (also Sat/6, 2pm); Sun/7, 5pm. In Rob Melrose's new translation of Eugene Ionesco's The Chairs, an elderly couple sit in the austere parlor of their lonely lighthouse, chortling over a spate of private wordplay and reminiscing of sprightlier times, until their initially frantic and disjointed dialogue settles into a smooth flow, well-polished by decades of endearments and gentle bickering. Possibly the last two survivors of a not entirely explained apocalypse, the isolated nonagenarians (magnificently played by David Sinaiko and Tamar Cohn) nevertheless make it known that important guests are expected to arrive at any moment in order to hear a hired orator (Derek Fischer) deliver the Old Man's "message," which he has spent a lifetime honing. As the doorbell begins to ring, a jarring squall, and invisible guests and dozens of mismatched chairs begin to crowd their peaceable empire in claustrophobia-inducing numbers, their companionable seclusion is shattered for good. Director Annie Elias manages to coax both gravitas and decorum out of this little-produced, yet influential absurdist relic, imbuing her protagonists with a depth of character that belies their farcical circumstances, while Theodore J.H. Hulsker's murmuring sound design of crashing waves, angry winds, and the strident doorbell could almost be another character in the play, so thoroughly does it set the tone in ways that Ionesco might not have approved of, but is all the better for. (Gluckstern)
The Couch Tides Theatre, 533 Sutter, Second Flr, SF; www.3girlstheatre.org . $30. Thu/4-Sat/6, 8pm; Sun/7, 2pm. As the centerpiece of its second annual festival of plays in honor of Women's History Month, 3Girls Theatre, devoted to Bay Area women playwrights, revives Lynne Kaufman's fitful but enjoyable 1985 dramatic comedy about the inception of the famous sexual and psychiatric triangle between Carl Jung (Peter Ruocco), wife Emma Jung (Courtney Walsh), and his mistress and analysand Toni Wolff (Maggie Mason). In this, her first play, Kaufman (whose most recent play, Acid Test, explores the life of Ram Dass) folds in Carl's critical 1912 break with mentor Sigmund Freud (Louis Parnell) for an action-packed day Chez Jung. (Also on the scene is the Jung's precocious daughter Katherine, played by a sure and animated Hattie Rose Allen Bellino). Amy Glazer directs a solid cast who convincingly blends the farcical aspects of the dialogue with its meatier and more dramatic ones, as new ties and power dynamics are sometimes roughly, other times genteelly negotiated. The former is usually the stuff of high comedy, as when Freud goes apoplectic upon learning Jung is not necessarily the disciple and "son" he had thought him to be. And Jung's (proto-) New Agey leanings only add fuel to the fire: When Carl turns to the I Ching to decide on the best course of action for his career going forward, Freud erupts, "You idiot! You're playing tiddlywinks with the human race!" But it is ultimately the politics of love and the household that take center stage, with Walsh's vulnerable yet ever dignified Emma emerging as, if not the greatest psychiatrist, perhaps the greatest strategist of them all. (Avila)
Eurydice Gough Street Playhouse, 1622 Gough, SF; www.custommade.org . $25-30. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through April 14. Custom Made Theatre Co. performs Sarah Ruhl's inventive take on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, exploring the story through the heroine's eyes.
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.
The Happy Ones Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Bldg D, Third Flr, SF; www.magictheatre.org . $22-62. Opens Wed/3, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2:30pm; no matinee April 20); Sun, 2:30pm; Tue, 7pm. Through April 21. An Orange County appliance store owner finds his life turned upside down in Julie Marie Myatt's drama at Magic Theatre.
reasons to be pretty San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post, Second Flr, SF; www.sfplayhouse.org . $30-100. Tue-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm). Through May 11. San Francisco Playhouse's tenth season continues with Neil LaBute's romantic drama.
The Resurrection of SHE Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St, SF; www.brava.org . $20-30. Thu/4-Sat/6, 8pm; Sun/7, 3pm. San Francisco's inimitable Rhodessa Jones is the beguiling heart of this musically transcendent and visually evocative performance-memoir, co-produced by Brava Theater and Cultural Odyssey. It's a surefooted meander through a great swath of personal and historical experience led by an African American woman whose decades-long theater career has been the expression and instigation of many female "resurrections." Backed by a multimedia collage designed by Stephanie Johnson and Pam Peniston, and accompanied onstage by excellent multi-instrumentalists and composers Idris Ackamoor (who also directed the show) and David Molina, Jones begins with a fraught poetical invocation of an African girl child roaming free on the deck of a slave ship. From there she delves into a by turns humorous, harrowing, and inspiring narrative rooted in her own Southern family history and the origins of what she calls her life-saving encounter with theater — one manifestation of which has been her powerful work with incarcerated women in the Medea Project. A recent iteration of the Project, in South Africa's Naturena prison, forms the narrative anchor of the second act. A formidable performer and expert storyteller, Jones commands attention whether channeling specific characters, speaking impromptu to her audience, or erupting into song (in one a several canny musical numbers). In the process, she makes trivial the show's few hiccups or loose ends with a sense of communion as impressive as her remarkable life. (Avila)
Sex and the City: LIVE! Rebel, 1760 Market, SF; trannyshack.com/sexandthecity. $25. Wed, 7 and 9pm. Open-ended. It seems a no-brainer. Not just the HBO series itself — that's definitely missing some gray matter — but putting it onstage as a drag show. Mais naturellement! Why was Sex and the City not conceived of as a drag show in the first place? Making the sordid not exactly palatable but somehow, I don't know, friendlier (and the canned a little cannier), Velvet Rage Productions mounts two verbatim episodes from the widely adored cable show, with Trannyshack's Heklina in a smashing portrayal of SJP's Carrie; D'Arcy Drollinger stealing much of the show as ever-randy Samantha (already more or less a gay man trapped in a woman's body); Lady Bear as an endearingly out-to-lunch Miranda; and ever assured, quick-witted Trixxie Carr as pent-up Charlotte. There's also a solid and enjoyable supporting cast courtesy of Cookie Dough, Jordan Wheeler, and Leigh Crow (as Mr. Big). That's some heavyweight talent trodding the straining boards of bar Rebel's tiny stage. The show's still two-dimensional, even in 3D, but noticeably bigger than your 50" plasma flat panel. (Avila)
Steve Seabrook: Better Than You Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org . $15-50. Thu, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Extended through May 18. Self-awareness, self-actualization, self-aggrandizement — for these things we turn to the professionals: the self-empowerment coaches, the self-help authors and motivational speakers. What's the good of having a "self" unless someone shows you how to use it? Writer-performer Kurt Bodden's Steve Seabrook wants to sell you on a better you, but his "Better Than You" weekend seminar (and tie-in book series, assorted CDs, and other paraphernalia) belies a certain divided loyalty in its own self-flattering title. The bitter fruit of the personal growth industry may sound overly ripe for the picking, but Bodden's deftly executed "seminar" and its behind-the-scenes reveals, directed by Mark Kenward, explore the terrain with panache, cool wit, and shrewd characterization. As both writer and performer, Bodden keeps his Steve Seabrook just this side of overly sensational or maudlin, a believable figure, finally, whose all-too-ordinary life ends up something of a modest model of its own. (Avila)
Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma: The Next Cockettes Musical Hypnodrome, 575 10th St, SF; www.thrillpeddlers.com . $30-35. Opens Thu/4, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through June 1. Thrillpeddlers' sixth annual Theatre of the Ridiculous Revival presents a restored version of the Cockettes' 1971 Art Deco-inspired musical extravaganza.
The Voice: One Man's Journey Into Sex Addition and Recovery Stage Werx Theater, 446 Valencia, SF; thevoice.brownpapertickets.com. $10-18. Fri/5-Sat/6, 8pm. Ticket sales for David Kleinberg's autobiographical solo show benefit 12-step sex addiction recovery programs and other non-profits.
The Coast of Utopia: Voyage & Shipwreck Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org . $20-35. Shipwreck runs Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through May 5. Voyage opens Wed/3, 3pm. Runs April 13, 20, 27, and May 4, 3pm. Last year in the Shotgun Players' production of Voyage, the first part of Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia trilogy (also playing in repertory through May 4), we were introduced to a tight circle of Russian thinkers and dreamers, chafing against the oppressive regime of Nicholas I. In the second part, Shipwrecked, we find them older, perhaps wiser, struggling to keep their revolutionary ideals alive while also juggling familial concerns and personal passions. Focused mainly on Alexander Herzen (Patrick Kelley Jones) and family, Shipwrecked travels from Russia to Germany, France, Italy, and the English Channel, buffeted from all directions by the forces of the uprisings and burgeoning political consciousness of the European proletariat. It's an unwieldy, sprawling world that Stoppard, and history, have built (made somewhat more so by the Shotgun production's strangely languid pace during even the most dramatic sequences) but it's worth making the effort to spend time absorbing the singular world views of Russian émigré Herzen, his impulsively passionate wife Natalie (Caitlyn Louchard), the cantankerous, influential critic Vissarion Belinsky (Nick Medina), professional rabble-rouser Michael Bakunin (Joseph Salazar) and up-and-coming writer Ivan Turgenev (Richard Reinholdt) as they desperately seek to carve out both their personal identities and a greater, cohesive Russian one from the imperfect turmoil of Western philosophy. (Gluckstern)
Fallaci Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org . $29-89. Tue, Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through April 21. Berkeley Rep performs Pulitzer-winning journalist Lawrence Wright's new play about Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci.
The Mountaintop Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield, Palo Alto; www.theatreworks.org . $23-75. Wed/3-Thu/4, 11am (also Thu/4, 8pm); Sat/6, 8pm; Sun/7, 2pm. TheatreWorks performs Katori Hall's play that re-imagines the events on the night before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination.
The Real Americans Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org . $25-50. Fri/5, 8pm; Sat/6, 5pm. Dan Hoyle shifts his popular show about small-town America to the Marsh's Berkeley outpost.
The Whipping Man Marin Theatre Center, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; www.marintheatre.org . $36-57. Tue-Sat, 8pm (also April 20, 2pm; April 11, 1pm); Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through April 21. Marin Theatre Company performs the Bay Area premiere of Matthew Lopez's Civil War drama.
"The Buddy Club Children's Shows" Randall Museum, 199 Museum Wy, SF; www.thebuddyclub.com . Sun/7, 11am. $8. The Bubble Lady performs.
"Cabaret Showcase Showdown: Best Pop Cabaret Singer" Martuni's, 4 Valencia, SF; (415) 241-0205. Sun/7, 7pm. $7. With guest judge Dylan Germick and musical arranger Lynden Bair.
Caroline Lugo and Carolé Acuña's Ballet Flamenco Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; www.carolinalugo.com . Sun/7 and April 13, 6:15pm. $15-19. Flamenco performance by the mother-daughter dance company, featuring live musicians.
"Fifth Annual Flow Show/San Francisco" Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF; www.dancemission.com . Fri/5-Sat/6, 8pm; Sun/7, 7pm. $20 (no one turned away for lack of funds). Contemporary dance and flow arts showcase, incorporating props like hoops and yo-yos.
"A Kind of Sad Love Song" Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth St, SF; www.bindlestiffstudio.org . Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3:30pm); Sun/7, 3:30pm. Through April 14. $10-20. Bindlestiff Studio presents the world premiere of Jeffrey Lo's relationship drama, performed in repertory by two separate casts of Pilipino American actors.
"The Madness of the Elephant" Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, Kanbar Hall, 3200 California, SF; www.jccsf.org/arts . Fri/5-Sat/6, 8pm. $15-30. West African dance, music, and theater group Duniya Dance and Drum Company perform an exploration of the reign of Guinea's first president, Sekou Touré.
"Miss Coco Peru: She's Got Balls!" Castro Theatre, 429 Castro, SF; www.ticketfly.com . Sat/6, 8pm. $28-45. Miss Coco Peru (a.k.a. Clinton Leupp) reminisces about her life in this solo musical comedy.
"Mission Position Live" Cinecave, 1034 Valencia, SF; www.missionpositionlive.com . Thu, 8pm. Ongoing. $10. Stand-up comedy with rotating performers.
"The Moth StorySLAM" Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF; www.rickshawstop.com . Mon/8, 7pm. $8-16. Open mic storytelling competition affiliated with KQED's "The Moth Radio Hour."
"OCB: Obsessive Compulsive Broadway" Martuni's, 4 Valencia, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com . Wed/3, 7pm. $7. Steven Slatten performs a comedy about the highs and lows of working on Broadway, with songs from Rent, Hair, and other shows.
Ophelia Fort Mason Center (starting at the Firehouse), Marina at Laguna, SF; www.carteblanche-sf.com . Thu and Sat-Sun, 8:30pm. Through April 14. $22. Carte Blanche performs a walk-through performance featuring dance, theater, and interactive video.
"Pamtastic's Comedy Clubhouse Presents: The Mutiny Radio Comedy Showcase" Mutiny Radio, 2781 21st St, SF; www.mutinyradio.org . Fri/5, 8:30pm. $5-20. With Jamie Bell, Vince Mancini, Dustin Hempstead, and more.
Red Hots Burlesque El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; www.redhotsburlesque.com . Wed, 7:30-9pm. Ongoing. $5-10. Come for the burlesque show, stay for OMG! Karaoke starting at 8pm (no cover for karaoke).
"Rotunda Dance Series: San Francisco Ballet School Trainee Program" San Francisco City Hall, Van Ness and Grove, SF; www.dancersgroup.org . Fri/5, noon. Free. The most advanced students at SF Ballet's school present a free, public performance under City Hall's rotunda.
"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.
"Up in the Air" Garage, 715 Bryant, SF; www.milissapayne.com . Wed/3-Thu/4, 8pm. New dance work inspired by hot air ballooning by the Milissa Payne Project.
"The Divine Game" Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org . April 15 and 29, 8pm. $20. First Person Singular and Shotgun Cabaret present this dramatic re-enactment of Nabokov teaching at Cornell in the 1950s.
"I Look Like An Egg, But I Identify as a Cookie" Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org . Mon/8-Tue/9, 8pm. $20. Heather Gold brings her hit solo comedy (with cookies!) to the East Bay.