Sandra Tsing Loh, performer, writer and comedian, is a bright, gutsy woman whose newest on-stage memoir, The Madwoman in the Volvo, reveals much more about a person’s private life than an audience is accustomed to learning. But we are lucky to be able to experience such a courageous, funny and perceptive woman, one who’s not ashamed to share menopause’s trials, tribulations and treats. (OK, so what if the treats are largely food-related?)
The Kneehigh Theatre of Cornwall (The Wild Bride, Tristan and Yseult, Meow, Meow), in association with Birmingham Repertory Theatre, is back in Berkeley for the holidays, before traveling to Los Angeles and New York City.
Keith Josef Adkins has written an admirable play that tells the tale of two free brothers of color in 1843’s Northern Kentucky. I use the word admirable because the plight of the very different brothers — one with small goals for the future and one with brave principles — brings to light the dark and largely unexplored cruel treatment of free people of color before the Civil War. The impetus for Safe House, which is playing at Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre, is Adkins’ extensive genealogical research, which traced his roots back to a mixed-race couple who lived before the American Revolution and settled in Northern Kentucky, where one line of their free Black descendants were shoemakers.
The Last Tiger in Haiti, a world premiere co-production between Berkeley Rep and the La Jolla Playhouse, was written by a talented newcomer, Jeff Augustin, who was born in Miami of Haitian parentage. He received his MFA in theater from UC San Diego just two years ago and has already landed many awards and artist residencies around the country. The production is directed by Joshua Kahan Brody, who is also is a graduate of UC San Diego’s MFA theater program. Please keep their newcomer status in mind, when you see the impactful, yet imperfect The Last Tiger in Haiti.
Fifty-four years after its Broadway debut, the award-winning Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee (1928-2016) hasn’t lost any of its strength and force. The alcohol-fueled psychological mêlée among George, Martha, Nick and Honey retains its full intensity and potency. Without the tight direction by Mark Jackson and the excellent performances by Beth Wilmurt, (Martha) David Sinaiko (George), Josh Schell (Nick) and Megan Trout (Honey), that might not have been the case. After all, in the wrong hands, the drama’s acrimony could easily be exaggerated into a SNL sketch. But no worries; this performance succeeds beyond expectations. I sat on the edge of my seat, totally engrossed during the entire three-act, three-hour performance.
With startlingly prescient timing, Berkeley Rep’s current production is a new adaptation of Pulitzer Prize winner Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 satirical political novel, It Can’t Happen Here. Originally written as a warning about the dangers of Hitler’s and Mussolini’s fascism, as well as Louisiana Senator Huey Kingfish Long’s demagoguery, It Can’t Happen Here translates all too well to the Presidential election of 2016.
Berkeley playwright Dorothy Bryant seemed delighted to be in the audience at the opening of Aurora Theatre’s 25th anniversary revival of her insightful two-person epistolary play, Dear Master, about famed 19th-century French authors George Sand and Gustave Flaubert. Dear Master is the salutation Flaubert used when writing to Sand, who was 17 years his senior.
Shotgun Players’ production of local playwright Christopher Chen’s stimulating, creative and complex work, Caught, confounded and ultimately conquered the Ashby Stage audience in its opening night performance. The mesmerizing Caught concerns truth and lies in their infinite varieties, and the place of truth in art, journalism and relationships. Since 2014, Caught has been produced in Philadelphia, Chicago, London, Seattle and New York to glowing reviews.
Why do people volunteer at soup kitchens? Is it so that they may selflessly serve others? Is it to make themselves feel worthy? Satisfy religious commitments? Or is it to forget their own problems? These questions and themes of friendship and falseness are presented in the stimulating and entertaining Grand Concourse, well directed by Shotgun’s Joanie McBrien. Playwright Heidi Schreck is a two-time Obie Award-winning actress and author of There Are No More Big Secrets, Creature, and Showtime’s Nurse Jackie.
Aurora’s new production of “Master Harold” … and the boys is a brilliant evening of theater. Its playwright is South Africa’s Athol Fugard, whose internationally respected anti-apartheid works include Blood Knot, Boesman and Lena, and My Children! My Africa! “Master Harold’s” cast of three, L. Peter Callender, Andrew Humann and Adrian Roberts, are all superb in their roles. And Timothy Near’s discerning direction perfects the production.
The Village Bike is a contemporary British play by Penelope Skinner about a pregnant woman who isn't getting enough sex.
Sarah Ruhl's evocative play is a heartfelt tribute to family and the ways in which loved ones may ease the pain and loneliness of aging and mortality.
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