Our critics weigh in on local theatre

Sacrament! Yes, Dave Eggers has written a play, too. Get over it. Even better: See it, and come out saying, "Oh yeah, I like Eggers." In collaboration with Campo Santo and director Kent Nicholson, the writer seems reinvigorated by the immediacy of theater. The tone is familiar: equal parts goofiness and gravitas, with results greater than the sum of their parts. The aesthetic is familiar as well: a handsome production, clean, controlled, and elegant in a pared-down way. And, of course, the material is familiar (from Eggers' novel You Shall Know Our Velocity!): Two young men, bearing a financial windfall and a friend's death, travel the world on impulse, grieving and giving away money. Should be easy enough. But, as Will (Sean San José) observes, "It's always so fucking complicated!" Identity, both civic and personal, is a creative act: It demands the effort of self-reflection, of converting memory into inspiration, yet the actors here pull it off. Danny Wolohan, as Hand, makes great, simple choices and is impossible not to like. He and San José have fine support from Tina Marie Murray and Michael Torres. If the cast's headlong charges into the text sometimes seem memorized beyond the prospect of discovery (and read like a phobia of stillness), it might be considered a thematic preoccupation. To discover mystery is an artist's privilege and his task, and Eggers won't let that opportunity be squandered. The show beseeches you to stay open above all; it'll leave you feeling at once wrung-out and ravenous. Through Aug. 8 at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (between 15th and 16th streets), S.F. Tickets are $9-15; call 626-3311 or visit www.theintersection.org. (Jonathan Kiefer) Reviewed June 9.

Are We Almost There?: Morris Bobrow's rollicking, long-running musical comedy about the trials and tribulations of travel, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, $20-$22. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 433-3040.

Balance: Actors Ensemble of Berkeley's production of Edward Albee's most suspenseful play, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, through Aug. 14, $10. Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck (at Berryman), Berkeley, 510-704-8210.

BATS: Sunday Players: Each week Bay Area Theatresports players pit their improv work against all comers as the audience votes them off one by one until the winner stands alone on the stage, 8 p.m. Sundays, $8, 474-6776 (information). Fort Mason, Bldg. B, Marina & Buchanan.

Bay Area Playwrights Festival: An annual series of script-in-hand performances, workshops, and discussions that's become a haven for theater writers both established and fledgling, through Sunday, Aug. 8, $12-$75, 263-3986 (information). Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina & Buchanan, 441-8822.

Beach Blanket Babylon: This North Beach perennial features crazy hats, media personality caricatures, a splash of romance, and little substance, 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7 and 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 and 7 p.m. Sundays, $25-$65. Club Fugazi, 678 Green (at Powell), 421-4222.

Becca and Heidi: Local playwright Sharon Eberhardt's new one-woman play about split personality and morality, 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, through Saturday, Aug. 7, $15-$20, 454-7788 (information). Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.

Dark Matter: The latest drama from Dooley author Harry C. Cronin concerns fallout from the indiscretions of a Catholic priest, 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, and Saturday, Aug. 7, 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8; $15-$20. Jon Sims Center for the Arts, 1519 Mission (at 11th St.), 554-0402.

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change: Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts' original comic musical examines our embarrassing inner notions on relationships, 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 5 and 9 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays, through Sept. 30; $35-$55. Marines Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter (at Mason), 877-771-6900.

Improvised Bawdy Shakespeare: The Un-Scripted Theater Company takes on Shakespeare in a fancy-dress two-hour all-improvised show, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, through Aug. 21, $7-$10, 869-5384 (information). Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy (between Taylor & Mason), 673-3847.

Megan's Skin: Jose Luis Leiva directs Rey Carolino's comic drama about the travails of an Irish family, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, through Aug. 21, $10-$20. Jon Sims Center for the Arts, 1519 Mission (at 11th St.), 554-0402.

The Mysterious Mr. Looney: The Central Works company takes on this comic exploration of the purported true author of Shakespeare's works, 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 29; $8-$20. Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant (at Ellsworth), Berkeley, 510-843-4822.

Othello: The Marin Shakespeare Company's take on Shakespeare's story of jealousy, betrayal, and interracial passion, 8 p.m. Fridays-Sundays, 4 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 15; $15-$26. Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, Dominican University, 50 Acacia (at Grand), San Rafael, 499-1108.

Ragtime: The Foothill Music Theatre program launches a redux of E.L. Doctorow's tale of three families experiencing a quickly changing America, 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 15; $10-$24. Foothill College, Smithwick Theatre, 12345 El Monte Road (at Hwy. 280), Los Altos Hills, 650-949-7360.

She Stoops to Conquer: Marin Shakespeare Company's summertime Shakespeare festival continues with this comedy of mistaken identity, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 15; $15-$26. Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, Dominican University, 50 Acacia (at Grand), San Rafael, 499-1108.

Snakebit: Theatre Q takes on the story of Michael, a social worker who loses his home and finds himself after a breakup, 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 22; $15-$20. Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro (at Mercy), Mountain View, 650-903-6000.

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