Stage Capsules

jaywalking
On NPR a few years ago, Marga Gomez seemed personable and sly, but live in her latest piece she's unbelievably amateurish and stiff. She speaks in awkward chunks of words, separated by ill-timed pauses that chop up the natural flow of sentences. Proclaiming every phrase at the same falsely ecstatic level, she seems to give no thought to rhythm or pitch; there's no music in her words. jaywalking is about days spent in Los Angeles trying to get on a TV series. (The conceit is that Gomez wants to be the first lesbian Latina on Baywatch.) Guess what she discovered? Nobody walks in L.A., and people there are superficial. Her too-obvious targets include John Tesh, dieting, ultra-femme L.A. lesbians, slimy agents, gay rumors about Whitney Houston and Ricky Martin, and Gomez's nemesis, Jennifer Lopez. Gomez's writing is lazy, both structurally and intellectually. Motifs recur to no purpose, and with no real insights, her story is as superficial as anything being ridiculed. Those lines that are funny are sabotaged by her lousy delivery: "I bet some of you, in your heart of hearts, wish it was Jennifer Lopez here tonight instead of me," she accuses. You betcha. With a terrific set by Dana Peter Porras featuring a luminous Japanese lantern of a stoplight.

-- Joe Mader

(Un) Common Ground
Soapstone Theater Group's (Un) Common Ground is about redemption and forgiveness, as portrayed by former offenders and victims who express their own true histories with violence. Through 20 autobiographical scenes, the audience learns what an enormous spiritual feat it is to rebuild a life shattered by incest, rape, broken bones, or murder. The ex-offenders witness and help create a forum to aid victims in expressing the impact of violence in their lives. Although the subject matter is extremely painful, the performers endow their stories with a combination of rage and love that is chillingly beautiful, through singing, poetic language, imaginative scenes, and their own unfaltering conviction about the message they wish to impart. The play provides no final answers about right and wrong ways to overcome violence, but instead demonstrates the importance of creative acts as a vehicle for self-expression, development, and recovery, and because a main goal of this performance is to re-create a community that violence has destroyed, being part of the audience carried with it a humanizing weight inaccessible to most theater productions.

Details

jaywalking
Through Dec. 12 at Theater Rhinoceros, 2826 16th St. (at South Van Ness), S.F. Call 861-5079.

(Un) Common Ground
Nov. 19 and 20 at the Lorraine Hansberry Theater, 620 Sutter (at Mason), S.F. Call 474-8800

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