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Giving Voice to the Women of Iraq
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jan 26, 2006)
Heather Raffo's exquisitely written, tautly acted play "9 Parts of Desire" is the kind of one-woman show that leaves viewers breathless at the very outset. For one thing, it's both topical and startlingly original. After all, how many portrayals of Iraqi women have we seen beyond the distorted media platitudes lamenting the unilateral plight of Middle Eastern females? More
A Year Of Comedic Diversity
By Chris Ellis (Jan 20, 2006)
As a fellow San Franciscan, my night often involves a journey out to find a small local club or bar with the expectation of finding something unique, personal and familiar. You know, something that has the word "San Francisco" in it. We are a savvy bunch, but love it when we're given a chance to shout out when our names are being called on the microphone. What better way to promote SF spirit than to award yourself with copious amounts of sketch comedy, candid conversations with famous people, and weird happenings at this year's 5th annual SF Sketchfest. More
Never the Same Thing
By Clifton Lemon (Jan 20, 2006)
"Sexual Perversity in Chicago" is the raunchy, biting, hilarious and occasionally tragic period piece about the intersecting love lives (and the concomitant discourse about them) of four typical, mid-seventies twentysomethings that launched David Mamet's illustrious career as a playwright. It's refreshing, entertaining, at times cruel, and simultaneously pointedly anachronistic and eminently relevant to the current "battle of the sexes", whatever form it happens to be taking today. More
Baroque Modern
By Clifton Lemon (Jan 11, 2006)
Vampires, with all their attendant darkness, sensuality, decadence, and existential complexity, always carry the promise of a good show. The vampire theme, like vampires themselves, is eerily eternal and disturbingly familiar. Perhaps it's one of the elemental story lines embedded in our collective unconscious, if there is such a thing. The collaboration of Anne Rice (novel), Elton John (music), and Bernie Taupin (lyrics) did not disappoint, and there are many surprises in this work. More
Bring in the Clowns
By Nirmala Nataraj (Nov 18, 2005)
Before Cirque du Soleil's Bay Area premiere of their show Corteo, I had a fairly tenebrous vision of what the flamboyant French-Canadian troupe would regale us with. "Corteo" is Italian for funeral procession, and from the tacit description on the company's website, the framework of the performance is a clown's deathbed ruminations. More
If You've Got It, Flaunt It
By Nirmala Nataraj (Sep 16, 2005)
Russian dramatist Nikolai Gogol's short story "The Overcoat" is a cautionary tale of mystical and fantastic proportions, centered on the dreary life of a low-class man. In keeping with the naturalist oeuvre of his literary counterparts, Gogol infused the tale with Dickensian details of the quotidian -- minutiae that served his leitmotif of toilsome monotony and culture-specific oppression. More
Fringe Benefits
By Clifton Lemon (Sep 9, 2005)
Ask your homies why they live in the Big City, and the answer is likely to include the phrase "all the cultural events…" But if you inquire what the last "cultural event" was that they had partaken in, you're likely to encounter long pauses, vacant looks, or maybe a vague recollection of a Quentin Tarantino flick. It's a shame; in the Bay Area, right under our noses, in our own backyards, there's a wealth of cutting-edge performance art and small theatre that seems to go largely unnoticed. We default to the cineplexes when we want out-of-home entertainment, but the problem is (in case you hadn't noticed) big studio movies kind of suck lately. More
The Foibles of Sexual Identity
By Nirmala Nataraj (Aug 19, 2005)
Ah, the fluidity of human sexuality. The ease with which some of us pass from orientation to orientation without the slightest desire for good, old-fashioned fixity of preference speaks volumes about the fallacy of a set identity. Not only does Dan Rothenberg's one-man show, "Regretrosexual", proffer us with the best theater title in decades; it also presents us with an engaging, light-hearted exploration of the one thing most of us take too seriously: sexual orientation. More
Enchantingly Light
By Nirmala Nataraj (Aug 11, 2005)
There really is no place like home, that magical fantasy realm we often prefer to the real thing. You know the home I'm talking about-the place where incredulity is suspended in favor of schlocky family fare, nostalgia, and the belief that no matter how bad things are, it always "turns out" in the end. That's where classic sagas of unreality, like The Wizard of Oz (at least in its technicolor incarnation) come in. The musical Wicked, the sensation which took home 14 major awards (including a few Grammys and Tonys), plays up to the fanciful expectations of diehard Broadway lovers, in its limited engagement at the Orpheum Theatre. More
A Classic Case of the Domestic Squabble
By Nirmala Nataraj (Aug 4, 2005)
Frustratingly verbose games of cat and mouse; privileged yet disgruntled middle-aged harpies having at it; hardly suppressed Electra complexes; emasculated college professors burying their woes in a nightcap and a novel. Yes, my friends, that's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" in a proverbial nutshell. Edward Albee's 1962 play, with its characteristic histrionics and intentional shock value, might seem dated these days, but it did for theater what films like Last Tango in Paris did for cinema--namely, it created a new vernacular for its form, one which seethed with bitter contempt for traditional family values and canned gender roles. More
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