Three Hotels

A cold businessman selling bad baby formula to Africans gets his due

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Through April 11

Tickets are $10-18

401-8081

w ww.thickdescription.org

Thick House, 1695 18th St. (between Carolina and Arkansas), S.F.

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A corporate officer named Geoff Hoyle oversees Third World sales of a certain unsafe, belly-bloating baby formula; he makes a career of moving from one hotel to another, boosting numbers and quelling local concerns. We start with a hotel in Morocco, where Hoyle wears a tasteful white suit and seems on top of his game, talking coolly about the trials of promoting bad formula to poor African mothers. "We're not administering to the masses of the bloody halt and the lame," he says. "This is business." And the charm of Craig Souza's performance is that you almost sympathize with him. Three Hotels is essentially an anti-corporate, anti-globalist screed, but Jon Robin Baitz writes with enough human subtlety to flesh out his high-powered salesman before yanking the rug. Hoyle's wife, Barbara, disillusions us about their marriage in the second monologue, set in the Virgin Islands. (Michaela Greeley is pitch-perfect in the role of a chafing, liberal spouse.) Then we see the salesman in a casual suit and huaraches in Mexico, dwelling on the consequences of a drastic speech his (now ex-) wife was working up to in the Caribbean. These three monologues feel spare and sometimes static, but they travel a surprising distance in a short amount of time. Baitz has written an unexpectedly moving show. His curtain-raiser, Four Monologues (that's right; you're in for seven monologues if you see Three Hotels), is less compelling. This quartet belongs to last decade's NEA scandals, even if it's nicely performed.

 
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