Theater

One of us

Emotional monstrosities animate 'Edward Gant's Amazing Feats of Loneliness'

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER Take away their unconventional looks and odd talents, and the eponymous carnival performers of Freaks — Tod Browning's classic carnie horror movie — were not so unusual. Ordinary folks, for the most part, with ordinary problems and everyday virtues. The title secretly pointed to the monstrous souls of their "normal-looking" but heartless colleagues, corrupt to the point of betrayal and murder.Read more »

Bravo!

THE YEAR IN THEATER: Highlights from 2013, on and off the boards

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arts@sfbg.com

YEAR IN THEATER Before the holiday season crushes us in its tinsel-glinted maw and poops us out into 2014, it's time to cast a backward glance and ponder 2013's best moments in theater and performance.

Most satisfyingly enigmatic flights Getting lost can be a good thing. It can concentrate the attention, heighten the senses, activate the imagination, leave room for reflection — and leave something to talk about afterward. This is as true for a visit to the theater as it is for a walk around town.Read more »

Band practice

Reading by moonlight with Nicole Kidman Is Fucking Gorgeous

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER We meet above the waterfall in Yerba Buena Gardens. It's cold, getting dark. Everyone seems relieved to get inside the YBCA theater next door. We'll talk here for the next hour, standing around a worktable with a gold lamé circle spread over it, before the band heads downstairs to a windowless rehearsal space in the deep well of the building.Read more »

Eat your heart out

Kneehigh's comic-romantic 'Tristan & Yseult' is high-flying theater for the masses

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER Crowd-pleasing can sometimes sound like a put-down — hey, sometimes it is — but it becomes a virtue in Kneehigh's Tristan & Yseult. The Cornwall-based company (already known locally for Brief Encounter at ACT in 2009 and The Wild Bride at Berkeley Rep last winter) has returned to Berkeley Rep with a remounting of its 2003 hit. And it proves as accomplished and intelligent as it is shamelessly entertaining.Read more »

Family album

Margo Hall and Marcus Shelby craft a musical memoir in 'Be Bop Baby'

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER Forgetting can be a key to understanding, and to freedom. This is something any jazz musician knows. Learning theory, practicing scales, getting to know your instrument and your craft — it's all prelude to forgetting, to letting go. What comes back to you in the moment, ideally, is deeper than any superficial knowledge. It's everything behind the music — a life.Read more »

Cul de sac

Familiar narrative tropes foreshorten Campo Santo's 'Alleluia, the Road'

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arts@sfbg.com

Two mothers are coping with grief — and becoming friends — in a room at a Bakersfield community center. Ruth (Nora El Samahy) is still not at the point of speaking the depth of her burden, and instead chirps on about the horror visited on her murdered child with a kind of fierce, enforced casualness, fueled by too much coffee. Mary (Catherine Castellanos), meanwhile, her emotional turmoil welling just beneath the surface, has a stronger bearing — and a peculiar lilt indicative of someone who has only recently heard the sound of her own voice.Read more »

The horror

Lightening up the darkness in 'Underneath the Lintel' and 'Grand Guignol'

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER Just last night a cordial campfire conversation with a hobgoblin and a menorah tumbled precipitously from the obscenity of rents in the city to the cold hard facts of our existence on this planet. Halloween was not yet over, and the really scary stuff had already returned.Read more »

The art of dialogue

Voices and impressions from Poland's Dialog Festival
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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER Maybe there's no better way to grasp your own time and place than by leaving it — in this case, trading San Francisco for Wroclaw, Poland, and Pacific Standard Time for a whiplashing case of jet lag. Wroclaw was home base for a little more than a week during the recent Dialog Festival (Oct. 11–18; dialogfestival.pl/en), which was in its seventh season as a major biennial international theater festival created and programmed by Krystyna Meissner, a force in Polish and European theater for decades.Read more »

Government smackdown

The Taming hits below the Beltway but stays shy of a knockout

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER The premise of Bay Area playwright Lauren Gunderson's latest, The Taming (not to be confused with her other latest, I and You, running more or less simultaneously at Marin Theatre Company), felt riotously germane on opening night, less than a week into the recent shutdown of the federal government. But only at first.Read more »

BEST PEACH OF A PLAYWRIGHT

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We're declaring 2012-2013 the theatre season of Lauren Gunderson, y'all. Ever since this prolific Georgia native's Exit, Pursued by a Bear debuted at Crowded Fire Theater in 2011, Gunderson's scripts are smart, sassy, and fueled by revenge and science. "I think I write about scientists more than I write about science," she told Creative Loafing Atlanta. Read more »