Theater abounds in the Bay Area!

rover_webI know I should devote a separate post to each show, but here’s a brief overview of good theater I’ve seen recently.

There There: An Evening with Gertrude Stein was a co-production of First Person Singular (aka Joe Christiano) and headquarters in Berkeley, performed in headquarter’s intimate space. This one-woman show featured the talented Gwen Loeb as Gertrude Stein. This little gem was written by Marty Martin many years ago to showcase an aging actress, but despite its successful run, the actress who commissioned it refused to let it be produced again. So it was tragically shelved…until Joe came across a copy at a secondhand book shop (not at Pegasus, where he works) and decided that it must be staged again. It had a short sold-out run, and I felt fortunate to have seen it. (And I’m not even a Gertrude Stein fan!)

Dick 3 is an imaginative, scaled-down version of Richard III, performed with minimal costumes and set among the tables in the bar at Pianofight, one of the newest theater spots in San Francisco. SF Theater Pub’s Stuart Bousel adapted and directed Shakespeare’s tale of greed and power quite successfully with far fewer actors and less fake blood than the Globe Theater would ever be able to. This, too, enjoyed a very short run and is now over, but watch for Bousel’s other theatrical offerings. He is everywhere these days.

Winding up its 12-night festival at the Exit Theatre this weekend is the SF Olympians VI: The Wine Dark Sea. I only managed to make it to the second night, A Bevy of Beauties, staged readings of eight short plays featuring female figures from Greek mythology. They were all entertaining and made me realize how much Greek mythology I don’t know already. (Did you know there was a goddess of seagulls?) And it’s clear that festival founder, Stuart Bousel, is a fount of wisdom on the subject.

The Rover at Shotgun’s Ashby stage is a dark comedy and great fun. I’m a big fan of Jeremy Kahn, who was able to play the womanizer of the title with such humor and charm that you couldn’t dislike him. Although written in 1677 by Aphra Behn (probably the first woman playwright), the play felt current, directed with flair by M. Graham Smith. Caitlyn Louchard was an appropriately feisty Hellena who was fun to watch as she played the worthy adversary and love interest of the two-faced Willmore. Elissa Beth Stebbins deftly played two roles so distinct that audience members not paying close attention might have thought she was two different actresses. The Rover was extended but ends tomorrow, so if you haven’t gone, get thee to the box office forthwith!

monster builder

Another entertaining night in the theater is Aurora’s current offering, The Monster Builder, playing off the title of Ibsen’s much more gloomy play, The Master Builder. This farce by local playwright Amy Freed pokes fun at ego-maniacal “starchitects” and portrays the ongoing battle between post postmodern architecture and historical preservation. But if that sounds dry, know that the play is anything but. Full of wit, a little absurdity, and a stand-out performance from Danny Scheie as the hilarious Gregor Zubrowski, The Master Builder proves that a play can present a serious issue and evoke plenty of belly laughs at the same time.

With three of these opportunities still available, there is no excuse for depriving yourself of a great night of theater in the Bay Area. So much awaits you!