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Heartbreakingly Hilarious
By Ann Taylor (Mar 6, 2009)
The city of San Francisco has a long and captivating history, from the building of Spanish missions to the 1906 earthquake to the bust of the dotcom industry. Throughout that history, San Francisco has become one of the most wonderful, and most tragic, cities in the world. John Bisceglie’s SF Follies surveys the beauty and the horror of living in San Francisco through the lens of absurdity, giving residents and visitors alike a humorous second look at life in the Bay Area. More
An Electrifying Take On A Touchy Subject
By Ann Taylor (Feb 6, 2009)
Few are perhaps aware that one of the first devices to benefit from the harnessing of electricity was, in addition to the toaster, the vibrator. Yes, that kind of vibrator. In the 19th century, doctors on the cutting edge of medical progress armed themselves with electric vibrators in the battle against hysteria. “Hysteria” was a blanket term for numerous “illnesses”, from anxiety and depression to outspokenness, and was primarily applied to women. Doctors felt that hysteria was caused by an excess of fluid in the womb that needed to be released through “paroxysms”- orgasms. More
The Light of Dark Days
By Ann Taylor (Dec 19, 2008)
The holiday season is upon us, and Christmas carols blare from every department store while garish displays persuade consumers to show their appreciation of loved ones through the purchase of material goods. It is also at this time of year that we are reminded to look past the temptations of material culture and consider the true spirit of whichever holiday we choose to celebrate. Regardless of how we greet this time of year, whether with excited anticipation or with concentrated avoidance, it does present us with a unique opportunity: to experience an abundance of artistic endeavors that celebrate the creative spirit. More
A Sensuous Garden of Delights
By Ann Taylor (Dec 12, 2008)
The stories of the 1001 Nights conjure exotic images of glittering jewels, desert caravans, magic genies in long-forgotten lamps, and evil viziers plotting to overtake the kingdom. However, also included are simpler, more human tales of love, betrayal, honor, forgiveness, kindness, death, and bodily functions. It is these aspects of the stories that Mary Zimmerman takes up in her play, “The Arabian Nights." While the times and places that she captures are beautiful, faraway, and exotic, the stories that she chooses to tell, and the way in which she chooses to tell them, are surprisingly familiar. More
A Brilliant Meditation
By Nirmala Nataraj (Nov 7, 2008)
Playwright Jane Anderson’s “The Quality of Life", currently at the American Conservatory Theater, is a brilliant meditation on a morass of issues: love, loss, grief, Red State v. Blue State, spiritual transcendence, and the possibility of shared understanding in times of crisis. Given all the issues that snake through the story with the mathematical complexity of a Moebius strip, Anderson, who also directs, displays tremendous skill in weaving her plot points together with seamless ease and opting for relatable, believable characters rather than a grand metanarrative about the human condition. More
Solid Gothic
By Ann Taylor (Oct 17, 2008)
As I walk into the Exit Theatre, it is as though I am entering the bowels of Hell itself-- the hallway narrows and darkens, and I find an empty seat in the tiny black womb of the theatre. The stage is small, the setting spare: a stool in the middle, a hanging cloak, and four grinning skulls contemplating the action that is about to unfold. I am vividly reminded of Faustian tales of men selling their souls to the devil in return for magical knowledge. In fact, the play I am here to see is just such a story. More
Ambitious But Uneven
By Nirmala Nataraj (Sep 26, 2008)
Playwright Itamar Moses’ “Yellowjackets” is creating quite the stir on Berkeley Rep’s Thrust Stage, which has been impressively thrown into relief by Annie Smart’s vivid, graffiti-spackled set and a towering fence that’s more suggestive of a high-security prison than a high school. The play swirls with mid-90s slang (sending a shiver of recognition down the spines of those of us who braved adolescence during that epoch), urban politics, racially charged turbulence, schoolyard violence and bullying, the Kafkaesque K-12 bureaucracy, and the riotously epic, hormone-driven confusion that characterizes the American teenage experience. More
Two acts are better than one
By Jessica Moskowitz (Aug 15, 2008)
Theater aficionados, thespians and patrons of the alternative art community -- these are the people that will enjoy “Bad Habits", Terrance McNally’s billing of one-acts that highlight the absurdity of our self medicating society currently on stage at the black box Mission space Theater Rhinoceros. Everyone else should stay at home. More
Tony winner leaves audience joyous
By Jessica Moskowitz (Aug 1, 2008)
If you adoringly hum refrains from the American musicals of Cole Porter and George and Ira Gershwin, you will be charmed and delighted by the frolicking, play within a play “The Drowsy Chaperone” currently on stage at SHN’s ornate Orpheum Theater. If you prefer baseball to musical theater you may not understand some of the shows self-referential humor, but you will still have a damn good time. More
Experimental Theatre That Doesn’t Suck
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jul 25, 2008)
Since 1999, Cutting Ball Theater has been regaling Bay Area audiences with the sort of stage productions that tend to be so rare in modern theatre: intelligent, provocative, challenging, impossibly literary pieces that teem with playfulness and a throbbing vein of experimentalism. Artistic director Rob Melrose tends to deal in creating minor monuments to the exhilarating range of possibility that live theatre can offer (without the bombast or ginormous budget), from brief dramaturgical sketches by local playwrights to cheeky, audacious revisions of beloved Shakespeare plays. More
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