The unconscious, the underworld, the undead what is it that under-the-mattress anxiety points to, exactly? And what might it have to do with a pack of powdered French fops in Louis Seize costumes? Given the blissful nonchalance with which Dark Porch Theater's Under the Bed tackles that thing called plot, it's probably best not to mull it over too much. Read more »
There's a section in Josh Kornbluth's new show wherein the veteran (but weirdly ageless) monologist, waxing on admiringly about Sheldon S. Wolin, notes his old Princeton political science prof's capacity for turning a student's half-baked ideas into $10 notions. It reminded me of a professor I knew who was adept at the same thing. Read more »
Two weeks before the world premiere of Aaron Loeb's First Person Shooter, a play that explores the controversial relationship between video games and violence in the aftermath of a Columbine-like school shooting, Virginia Tech suddenly made the subject almost too relevant. SF Playhouse and PlayGround, the coproducing companies, considered a postponement according to excerpts from e-mails between the theater's cofounders, the director, and the playwright, which were reprinted in the program but in the end went forward with the opening. Read more »
The May Day rampage of the Los Angeles Police Department over peaceful protesters and journalists at an immigrants' rights march lends an undeniable immediacy to America Tropical, a new and at times poignant chamber opera by composer David Conte and librettist Oliver Mayer that addresses the legacy of racial and class exploitation built into the very fabric of the City of Angels.
The compact 60-minute work, which premiered April 27 at the Thick House under the auspices of San Francisco's Thick Description, takes its cue from América Tropic Read more »
REVIEW In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, one of the only voices raised on behalf of understanding Timothy McVeigh that is, as someone slightly more complicated than a Hollywood-style incarnation of pure evil was that of Gore Vidal. Vidal insisted on pointing to the obvious: the bombing of offices that included the local headquarters of the FBI and the ATF although utterly cruel and misguided in leading to 168 deaths was not arbitrary wickedness but a carefully considered act of revenge. Read more »
The human race either sinks or swims. That's evolution as Charles Darwin first saw it. But flippers and a seal pelt, that's pure Kurt Vonnegut. The novelist plays God like no other, wresting the species from its self-destruction, then sending it on its wobbly way with a childlike capacity for invention and a wry if discontented grasp of human folly. That's Galápagos, anyway, his 1985 best-seller in which evolution saves humankind from its big and mischievous brains by sending it back to the sea. Read more »
Philip Kan Gotanda's After the War, enjoying an exceptional world premiere at the American Conservatory Theater, is set during 1948 in a Fillmore boardinghouse run by a laid-back jazz musician and second-generation Japanese American named Chester "Chet" Monkawa (Vancouver's Hiro Kanagawa in an impressive US debut). Read more »
The title of David Wiltse's 2003 play, The Good German, points in two directions at once: there's the image of the individual who stands up to the injustice being perpetrated by his or her government, and there's the image of the individual who follows the flag, however reluctantly, wherever it may lead. Of the play's four characters, only one looks even remotely like a saint, and she's killed early on. Read more »
Between Kirsten Greenidge's rumbling and ambitious Rust and Chantal Bilodeau's titilutf8g if more staid Pleasure and Pain, a metatheme is already emerging from the Magic Theatre's annual three-play Hot House festival. Both Greenidge and Bilodeau merge a contemporary identity-focused story line and a fractured mise-en-scène to explore the porous border between mundane reality and individual and collective fictions.
Rust centers on a troubled patch in the high-flying career of football star Randall Mifflin (Mikaal Sulaiman). Read more »