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Beatboxing in the Afterlife
By Matt Crawford (Jan 15, 2010)
Tim Barsky’s The Bright River is yet another in a long line of these oddly mesmerizing and imaginative works on the afterlife. More
Rollicking and Wrenching
By Ann Taylor (Nov 13, 2009)
Tiny Kushner, in its West Coast premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theater, defies these traditional expectations of drama, providing an evening of incredibly intense yet utterly riveting short plays. More
Horrifying to Hysterical
By Ann Taylor (Oct 23, 2009)
Halloween is undoubtedly my favorite holiday. This time of year is as close to a change in seasons as we get here in the Bay Area, with dead leaves crunching underfoot and weeklong downpours of rain. As nature begins her period of hibernation and the beauty of new life fades into the inevitable, we get a chance to explore the darker side of the human imagination -- finally! And of course, the arts scene furnishes us with some excellent opportunities to contemplate the macabre, the melancholy, the monstrous, and the mystical, from major productions of legendary stories to less well-known, but no less fascinating, shows and original plays. More
Style over Substance
By Nirmala Nataraj (Sep 25, 2009)
Upon walking into Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theatre to see the world premiere of the rock opera “American Idiot", you will get a cordial high decibel warning in the form of ear plugs. Just to be on the safe side. Based on the 2004 multi-platinum concept album by punk-rock trio (and Bay Area natives) Green Day, “American Idiot” spares us the adenoidal baying of frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, as well as the manic, three-chord conniptions that would identify the band well past its post-adolescent rise to fame. More
Delightfully Disturbing
By Ann Taylor (Jul 31, 2009)
Ken Kesey’s famous book, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was published in 1962, at the dawn of the Hippie movement and at the height of the Civil Rights movement. A year later, in 1963, Dale Wasserman published a stage adaptation of the novel, and in 1975 the famous film version was released. Now, SF Playhouse stages its own production of this mesmerizing story, bringing back to the forefront the dangerous side of industrialization and technology. More
A Darker Side to Magic
By Nirmala Nataraj (Jul 16, 2009)
“Ever get the feeling that everything you’ve experienced tonight has happened before and will happen again?” That’s the enigmatic question that bookends magician Christian Cagigal’s latest show, “Now and at the Hour.” Cagigal is best known for “The Pandora Experiment", a brilliant solo performance that consistently played to sold-out audiences at the EXIT Theatre’s diminutive yet aptly intimate café in 2007 and 2008. While Cagigal has sacrificed childhood whimsy and ethereal parlor tricks for a more dramatic turn, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree in his new piece. More
Reality TV’s True Inspiration
By Ann Taylor (May 15, 2009)
Like all the best (or perhaps worst) episodes of Jerry Springer, Euripides’ Ion has it all: a mother forced to abandon her child, questionable paternity, attempted murder, and funny glasses. The ancient Greeks truly did form the foundation of Western society. Boxcar Theatre’s production of Ion pares down the original story for the sake of an outdoor production, but maintains the utterly dysfunctional family dynamic loved by audiences everywhere. More
Shocking Shenanigans
By Ann Taylor (Apr 17, 2009)
Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. Like the waters of the ancient Roman baths, Thrillpeddlers’"Audacious Artefacts" douses its audience in alternating splashes of horror and sex, shocking the system. From 1897 until 1962, the Theatre du Grand Guignol in Paris confronted its audiences with horror plays designed to terrify interspersed with sex farces that provided comic relief from said terror. Thrillpeddlers brings to stage four short plays of the Parisian Grand Guignol that probe the depths of human depravity and sexuality, culminating in a downright dirty (yet hysterical) sex romp. More
A Brave Attempt, But Not Quite There
By Ann Taylor (Apr 3, 2009)
Honor. Glory. Bloodshed. These are the words that come to mind at the mention of Homer’s Iliad, the famous epic poem about the wrath of Achilles during the last year of the Trojan War. While the poem itself is rather long and tedious in places, the tensions between the characters as well as Homer’s descriptions of the battles would seem rich fodder for a theatrical production. Yet, American Conservatory Theatre’s production of "War Music", a stage adaption of Christopher Logue’s book by the same name, provides none of the spectacle, excitement, and tension one might expect from a modern remake of Homer’s classic tale of war. More
Dostoevsky Distilled
By Ann Taylor (Mar 19, 2009)
Three actors, two chairs, a table, and a bed: this is what Berkeley Rep’s production of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment has reduced the story to, yet the ultimate power of the novel remains, concentrated into these carefully chosen fragments. To take on the challenge of adapting Dostoevsky’s enormously complex and voluminous novel into a stage play takes incredible will, and not only do playwrights Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus turn the story into a captivating psychological journey but they also successfully distill the main themes of Dostoevsky’s work into a 90-minute production. More
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