Ubiquitous images of women laughing as they pick at salads inspired playwright Sheila Callaghan to explore women’s shame and self-deprivation, men’s chauvinism and insecurity and the deleterious influence of advertising.
"You may hate it or you may love it, but you are going to have to go home and be with it."
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.
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.
The Village Bike is a contemporary British play by Penelope Skinner about a pregnant woman who isn't getting enough sex.
SHOTGUN’S BLAST FESTIVAL Berkeley’s Shotgun Players have launched a new festival, BLAST, with the goal of “exploding the limits of possibility in theater.” The intention is for BLAST to be an annual celebration of difference — a month-long festival of new ideas and visions. “BLAST aims to explode the boundaries of the stage with performances by local and national theater artists. We think life is dynamic, changing, ephemeral, strange, and beautiful. Theater should be too,” says the theater. On Saturday and Sunday you can see My Mind is Like an Open Meadow, by Portland’s Hand2Mouth ensemble. A mixture of lighting, pre-recorded voice, music, dance and scenery, the piece is based on one year’s worth of recordings Erin Leddy made of her fascinating grandmother, actress Sarah Braveman (watch the trailer). BLAST runs through March 6 at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Free parking in the Ashby BART parking. Tickets: $15 advance/$20 door. Blast Pack tickets available for multiple performances. See full program at Shotgun Players’ website. (more…)
Since 1952, London audiences have been frightened, surprised and delighted by Dame Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, and Shotgun Player’s audience will be no exception. Under the talented direction of Shotgun’s Artistic Director, Patrick Dooley, with an outstanding cast and an elaborate stage set, this quintessential country house murder mystery seems as fresh, engaging and mysterious as it did 63 years ago.
One thing about Shotgun Players — they’re always up for trying unusual and challenging plays. Sometimes their attempts result in exceptional evenings, especially for a small local theater company. However, at other times their reach exceeds their grasp. The Rover, unfortunately in the latter group, is a production that only sometimes works, despite the best of intentions.
In the oft-told Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, the musician Orpheus follows his bride, Eurydice to the underworld to lead her back to life, but he is forbidden to turn his head and look at her. Nevertheless, because he fears that she may not be following him, he glances back and loses his love for all eternity. Contemporary playwright Sarah Ruhl has creatively turned the myth upside down in Shotgun Players’ winning Eurydice.
Shotgun Players has scored a bit hit with Caryl Churchill’s 1982 drama, Top Girls.
Astronomy and mysticism don’t normally mix, but they do, and with varying degrees of success, in Marisela Treviño Orta’s 80-minute one-act play, Heart Shaped Nebula, ably directed by Desdemona Chiang. The play chronicles the love story of Dalila and Miqueo, she, an astronomy and Greek mythology fanatic, he, an artist. These star-crossed lovers meet in high school in their small Texas town, a town not unlike Orta’s small hometown in Texas.
We are fortunate to have a company in Berkeley like Shotgun Players— always willing to take risks, to present large and small productions, classics, new material, or new takes on classics, as in Antigonick.