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.
Shotgun Players prides itself on being “the little theater company that does big plays,” so producing its own extraordinary version of Hamlet seems absolutely appropriate. To begin its 25th season, Artistic Director Patrick Dooley assembled seven talented and gutsy players, who five minutes before the start of each performance pick names from a hat (actually Yorick’s skull) to determine which role each will play that evening. Although they’ve all rehearsed each part, to perform a major one, or two or three smaller parts, with so little prep time is incredibly difficult. It’s hard to imagine that Shotgun could pull this off, but the result at the evening I attended, was extremely successful. It’s different than other productions of Hamlet I’ve seen, but in a good way.
The super-creative David Ives has created a priceless combination of an 18th-century bawdy French farce and 21st-century clever American comedy.
A new play by MacArthur Fellow and Tony Award-winner Mary Zimmerman is always a reason to celebrate.