A Man of No Importance

A Dublin bus conductor tries to mount Oscar Wilde. At his church. In 1964.


Through April 11

Tickets are $18-28


www.nctcsf .org

New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), S.F.

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The man in question is a Dublin bus conductor, Alfie Byrne, who tries to mount an amateur production of Oscar Wilde's Salomé at his local church in 1964. He's unmarried and middle-aged, which makes him queer enough in Irish-Catholic eyes; he also secretly loves a young bus driver named Robbie. What Alfie's priest worries about, though, is Salomé's erotic Dance of the Seven Veils: "You shoulda told me this Salomey was a dirty play," says Father Kenny. "It's not dirty, Father," says Alfie. "It's great airt." Terrence McNally has adapted the 1994 movie with Albert Finney into a musical, and the cloying subject matter may work better this way. Stephen Flaherty's music relies on a few classical string instruments and some elements of Irish folk -- a guitar, a flute, and a fiddle, played live -- and Lynn Ahrens' lyrics are not too cheesy. Overall the show is sweet and well made, with strong performances in the central roles (Arthur Scappaticci as Alfie, Levi Damione as Robbie), but it's also light and inconsequential. McNally himself will be in residence at the New Conservatory this season, so a West Coast premiere of his newest show serves as a gesture welcoming him to town.

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