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Recent Stories

  • Aurora’s remarkable ”Master Harold’ … and the boys’

    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.

  • Ibsen redux: ‘Little Erik’ at Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre

    Little Eyolf, one of Henrik Ibsen’s lesser plays, has been updated and up-ended by writer and director Mark Jackson in the Aurora Theatre’s world premiere production of Little Erik. In re-writing Ibsen’s 1894 plot into a superficially contemporary story about a hard-driving executive wife, a mercurial wannabe novelist husband and a disregarded disabled child, Jackson seems to be on the right track until the latter half of the one-act, 80-minute drama, where all goes awry, as the writing departs spectacularly from Ibsen’s original plot and veers into surprisingly shoddy melodrama.

  • Architecture and the devil: ‘The Monster-Builder’ at Aurora

    Although The Monster-Builder is at times captivating, I’m still a bit flummoxed by its construction. It’s mostly a comedy that interlaces cogent comments about post-modern architecture. However, it awkwardly mixes its moods, alternatively presenting satire, farce and sex-capades with observations on building design, but without creating an integrated theatrical experience.

  • ‘Mud Blue Sky’ shines at Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre

    Most of us find flying a tedious chore these days, so you can imagine how flight attendants feel. In Marisa Wegrzyn’s bittersweet comedy, three female flight attendants reunite at a bland airport hotel near Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Rather than the clear blue sky flown by “stewardesses” of the past, their humorous and poignant reminiscences emanate from a Mud Blue Sky.

  • Detroit: Unpredictable, dark comedy shines at the Aurora

    The fiery dark comedy, Detroit, written by Lisa D’Amour, richly deserves the Obie Award it won in 2013 for the Best New American Play. When it first opened in Chicago at the Steppenwolf Theatre in 2010, the U.S. was floundering through the sudden and severe recession that turned people’s lives inside out. Detroit adroitly captures those angst-filled times and weightier concerns, yet has plenty of humor and satire that lessens the pall. It is also an exploration into the dream or mirage of the American middle class life.

  • The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

    UC BOTANICAL GARDEN’S 125TH BIRTHDAY During its 125 years of existence, the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley has served as a haven for endangered plants rescued from smugglers, a lab for studying climate change, biomagnetism and hummingbirds’ territorial behavior, a seed bank, a classroom for children and an idyllic backdrop for weddings. The Berkeley garden, home to one of the oldest, largest and most diverse collections in the U.S,. kicks off its 125th anniversary celebration on Sunday, June 28, with music (by the Tiny Rock Band and The Banjo Racketeers), a beer garden featuring Trumer, cupcakes (by Kelsey Robinson of The Whole Cake), lemonade, and gelato (by Bar Gelato) at its 34-acre site overlooking San Francisco Bay. Read all about it. (more…)

  • ‘Fifth of July’ at Aurora Theatre: A play with much to offer

    One of the fresh, modern aspects of the 1978 Fifth of July by Pulitzer Prize winner Lanford Wilson (1937–2011) is that it concerns a gay couple whose sexuality is never questioned. Neither is the relationship the subject of angst, derision or other negative reaction — just love and acceptance. Unfortunately, a few other elements of the play seem slightly off, despite the fact that Fifth of July has much to offer.

  • Dark but bitingly funny: ‘The Lyons’ at the Aurora Theatre

    In the opening act of The Lyons, Nicky Silver’s bitingly funny and undeniably moving play, we are in a hospital room in New York, where Ben Lyon (Will Marchetti) lies terminally ill with cancer, cursing with pain, as his wife Rita (Ellen Ratner, After the Revolution) thumbs through decorating magazines, casually discussing her plans to redecorate their living room after Ben dies. Not your average loving couple merely engaging in bickering banter, Ben and Rita have struggled through 40 years in a difficult marriage burdened by disappointment and regret.