By Jonathan Ramos
By Juan De Anda
By Mollie McWilliams
By Juan De Anda
By Mollie McWilliams
By Juan De Anda
By Jonathan Curiel
By Alexis Coe
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 gingersnaps and caramel chocolate squares. Through Feb. 27 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.
No Exit. In Jean-Paul Sartre's 1944 play No Exit, three newly deceased people from different walks of life are condemned to an unusual kind of hell: They must spend the rest of eternity together in a sparsely furnished 19th-century-style salon. Joseph Garcin is a South American journalist killed in a cowardly attempt to flee Rio during a political uprising. Estelle Rigo, a voluptuous young Parisian socialite, killed her baby before succumbing to pneumonia. And Ines Serrano, a lesbian postal worker, dispatched her lover's husband only to be killed in turn by her lover. In the Cutting Ball Theater's powerful production, the actors are presented with the barest of canvases upon which to paint Sartre's vision of eternity. The economy and precision of Rob Melrose's unembellished translation set a tone as chilly as that of the original. Jon Brennan's scenic design seems flat and almost two-dimensional against the permanent glare of cold white light. Given the sparseness of the text and the stage, the audience's gaze cannot help but be focused on the characters, just as they are forced to focus on one another. Barely a year goes by without some Bay Area company or other seeing fit to give No Exit an airing. This year marks the centennial of Sartre's birth, an auspicious time to premiere a sharp new translation. The Cutting Ball's production, with its elegance and force, mines deep into the soul of Sartre's text, holding up a mirror to human nature. Through Feb. 26 at Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy (between Taylor and Mason), S.F. Tickets are $15-20; call 419-3584 or visit www.cuttingball.com. (Chloe Veltman) Reviewed Feb. 2.
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 Feb. 26 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.
Rapunzel. The Children's Theatre Association of San Francisco gives the well-known yarn about a girl with exceedingly long locks a new sheen with its romping musical adaptation of Rapunzel, staged in the Legion of Honor's gorgeous, subterranean wedding cake of a theater. With its gender stereotyping -- a frilly pink dress and squeaky voice for the generously tressed damsel in distress, and a feathered cap, black boots, and swagger for her handsome prince -- and tidy moral messages, this production presents, in some ways, a traditional retelling of the Grimm fairy tale. But the fizzy book and lyrics by David Crane and Marta Kauffman (an interesting departure for the Emmy Award-winning writing duo behind the Friends television series), composer Michael Skloff's toe-twirling tunes, and quirky performances by CTA's strong-voiced ensemble ensure that the cobwebby one-liner "Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair" isn't a letdown. In fact, some of the jokes play as well to adults as they do to children. From a vegetarian witch (played alternately by Suzy Cronholm and Susan Pelosi) who wears too much hairspray and enjoys turning little boys into Brussels sprouts with her magic ring to a love duet with the tongue-in-cheek refrain "Me, my hair, and I," CTA's show is a scalp-tickling experience. Through Feb. 12 at the Florence Gould Theater, Legion of Honor, 34th Avenue & Clement, S.F. Tickets are $8-10; call 750-3600 or visit www.ctasf.com. (Chloe Veltman) Reviewed Jan. 19.