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Encore

Our critics weigh in on local theater

I Look Like an Egg, But I Identify as a Cookie. In her solo show, Heather Gold recounts the journey from Niagara Falls (where she spent the first 19 years of her life) to her current role as San Francisco's resident lesbian domestic goddess -- while baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies in front of a live audience. Even as she's plunking bits of soggy dough onto a battered metal baking tray and babbling on about her rugby-playing days as a law student at Yale, Gold, wielding her remarkable improvisation skills, creates an atmosphere of cozy intimacy. Certain parts of her monologue ramble on for too long, but even during the show's most half-baked moments, it's easy to understand why the audience gets so involved: Gold makes for an endearingly slapdash cook. Each performance involves a special guest, and it's a sheer pleasure to see a food-themed show that's not about battling one's body image (as is so often the case with productions by female artists -- e.g., Eve Ensler's The Good Body) and a program stuffed with recipes for delicacies like ginger snaps and caramel chocolate squares. Through Feb. 13 at Hotel Rex, 562 Sutter (between Powell and Mason), S.F. Tickets are $30-50; call (800) 838-3006 or visit www.subvert.com. (Chloe Veltman) Reviewed Jan. 12.

Not a Genuine Black Man. It's not easy being green, but try being a black kid in San Leandro in the early '70s. When Brian Copeland got there -- just a few months after the Summer of Love, he points out -- it was one of the most viciously racist suburbs in America. Now it's officially the most diverse. "Take that, San Francisco," Copeland chides. He's earned that attitude, not just for going through his hell of growing up, but also for extracting from it such affirmative, hilarious stuff. Copeland's rightfully popular one-man show is wrought from pain and rage but never really succumbs to bitterness. "Is that black?" he asks, and proves that it is. Some of his best stereotype-busting material doesn't feel especially new, but it does feel good. Besides, it's the stereotypes that have passed their expiration dates: Copeland's title comes from an accusation recently flung at him by a cranky listener who called in to his KGO radio program. This show is his response. With help from declarative lighting and David Ford's direction, Copeland creates an affecting hybrid of the dramatic monologue and the rollicking stand-up act. Through Jan. 29 at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd Street), S.F. Tickets are $15-22; call 826-5750 or visit www.themarsh.org. (Jonathan Kiefer) Reviewed June 2, 2004.

Rush Limbaugh in Night School. Charlie Varon has revived and revamped his hilarious 1994 solo tour de force, a satire that may owe more than a little to Tom Stoppard's Travesties, about Rush Limbaugh and a cast of mostly still-relevant national figures from the left and right. When a conservative Latino radio host threatens Limbaugh's dominance in a Florida market, the potbellied pundit puts on a beard and enrolls in Spanish night classes (at the New School), where he falls in love with a fugitive ex-member of the Weather Underground. For obscure reasons Limbaugh also tries to play Othello in blackface, in a star-studded production featuring Garrison Keillor, directed by Spalding Gray. Things go predictably to hell. Varon's in full command of his characters; the voices are sharp, if not perfect; and his timing is hard to beat. But he and Limbaugh are both visibly older. Varon's point in 1994 was that Limbaugh had upended the whole idea of satire -- he'd turned a traditional weapon of the underprivileged into a tool of power, and the last 10 years have only shown how potent that strategy can be. Limbaugh was pretty much on his own in 1994; lately his talk-radio spawn have probably helped a) elect a new governor in California, and b) re-elect a president. Depressing. Through Feb. 20 at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd Street), S.F. Tickets are $15-22; call 826-5750 or visit www.themarsh.org. (Michael Scott Moore) Reviewed Dec. 15, 2004.

I Look Like an Egg, But I Identify as a 
Cookie.
Phyllis Christopher
I Look Like an Egg, But I Identify as a Cookie.
Rush Limbaugh in Night School.
Rush Limbaugh in Night School.

Also Playing

Are We Almost There?
Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 433-3040.

BATS: Sunday Players
Fort Mason, Bldg. B, Marina & Buchanan, 474-6776.

Beach Blanket Babylon
Club Fugazi, 678 Green (at Powell), 421-4222.

Beyond Therapy
Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 433-3040.

Big City Improv
Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 433-3040.

Caroline, or Change
Curran Theatre, 445 Geary (between Taylor and Mason), 551-2000.

Comedy Improv at Your Disposal
Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 433-3040.

Creative Drama Classes
New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org.

Fronteras Americanas
Mills College Theater, Lisser Hall, 5000 MacArthur (between Seminary and High exits), Oakland.

The Gamester
Geary Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), 749-2228.

GayProv
Off-Market Studio, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 896-6477, www.cafearts.com.

Grease
Orpheum Theater, 1192 Market (at Eighth St.), 512-7770.

Italian.Queer.Dangerous
Jon Sims Center for the Arts, 1519 Mission (at 11th St.), 554-0402, www.jonsimsctr.org.

Jury of Her Peers and The Necklace
Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D (Marina & Buchanan), 441-8822.

Love, Chaos & Dinner
Pier 29, Embarcadero (at Battery), 273-1620.

Mambo Italiano
New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org.

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