Stage

Material world

David Mamet's Hollywood soul search
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The year 1988 marked the apex of David Mamet's celebrity. He'd won a Pulitzer Prize for Glengarry Glen Ross, and American Buffalo was being produced by every little theater on the planet. He'd scripted several mostly admired films and had just directed his first, the coldly ingenious House of Games.

It must have been a heady time. One doesn't get the impression that Mamet is the type to enjoy simply being celebrated. Read more »

Queen's density

Julie Queen goes from boldly careless to overly careful in "Ten Dollar Destiny"
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Over the past two decades Julie Queen has earned her ballsy-woman stripes. She's played truck-driver killer Aileen Wuornos in Carla Lucero's opera Wuornos and the lead in Robert Rodríguez's Frida, based on the life of painter Kahlo. In the '90s, as a member of the Qube Chix, the avant-garde singing trio lead by Pamela Z, she belted out heady Karlheinz Stockhausen atonality and defiant riot-grrrl lyrics at the same time. Read more »

Where is home?

Danny Hoch brings his new Brooklyn tale to the Bay
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"I've never been inside here before. I don't like to come in here, because I feel alienated in my own neighborhood by this place, and that is kind of what this play is about," Danny Hoch said recently. His new solo stage production, Taking Over, opens Jan. 16 at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Read more »

Magic garden

Yaelisa and Caminos Flamencos
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A most welcome gift arrived Dec. 12: pure dance, pure music, and pure poetry. It was "Jardín de Mis Sueños," Caminos Flamencos' new show (repeating in Mountain View on Dec. 21) and the last one at ODC Theater, which starts extensive renovations in January. Read more »

Durang harangue

Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge serves a heaping helping of humbug
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The annual relentless prosecution of Christmas is a happy time for some. For others, not so much. For her part, Gladys Cratchit (Joan Mankin), the long-suffering wife of Bob (Keith Burkland) — that misty-eyed mistletoe of a man harried six days a week by his grasping gargoyle of an employer, Ebenezer Scrooge (Victor Talmadge) — is ready to throw herself off London Bridge. One sees her point. Read more »

Will trade thought for food

"What You Will" -- and won't -- in TheatreWorks' Twelfth Night
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"If music be the food of love, let's party" goes the catchphrase for TheatreWorks' holiday production of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, or What You Will. As this jiggering with Orsino's famous opening line suggests, artistic director Robert Kelley takes the Bard's invitation to do "what you will" as a license to rock, with a San Francisco Summer of Love theme meant to warm the cockles on a winter's eve. It's a theme the show's producers run with at full tilt. Read more »

Ceres business

Dynamic choreography propelled "Limits of the Marvelous"
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Brittany Brown Ceres's dances are voluptuous and lucid. They are also finely crafted, though in her first full-evening concert, "Limits of the Marvelous" — at Dance Mission Theater on Nov. 30 — they were not always quite as finely performed. The larger ensemble numbers' speed suggested technical challenges not always met. Read more »

In and out

Unpacking the social pressure to procreate in The Crowd You're In With
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Playwright Rebecca Gilman's work has often courted subjects with ripped-from-the-headlines appeal, such as Spinning into Butter's take on racism at a small New England college or Boy Gets Girl's stalker scenario. Her latest play, The Crowd You're In With, is no less timely. But at first blush it seems quieter and more understated in its choice of setting and subject matter: a backyard barbeque and a clash between three couples over whether or not to have children. Read more »

Historically challenged

War and peace in Philip Glass's Appomattox
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The central scene in Appomattox, Philip Glass's new opera now world-premiering with San Francisco Opera, is the fateful meeting of generals Ulysses S. Grant (Andrew Shore) and Robert E. Lee (Dwayne Croft) in a private residence in the Virginia town of Appomattox Court House, where Lee surrendered on behalf of the South on April 9, 1865, officially bringing the catastrophic Civil War to a dainty close. Read more »

Beyond borders

Benedictus draws from a real-life meeting to explore political power games
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An uneasy double consciousness attends the able and purposeful world premiere of Benedictus — now up at the Thick House — whose plot concerns a back-channel effort to avert an impending US invasion of Iran. Read more »