Decades of developments in the Middle East peace process follow a grim cycle: Grand plans for peace are inevitably followed by bickering, then by heated debates and veiled threats, until finally someone bombs the hell out of someone else and chaos reigns once more. The young protagonist of Traveling Jewish Theatre's new drama, Blood Relative, follows a similar circuit in his own life. The product of a Jewish mother and a Muslim pop, our hero is claimed by both cultures yet belongs to neither and seems doomed to be pulled apart by his conflicting sympathies. On a quest for the reconciliation of his two halves, he travels through a mystical desert landscape meeting characters from either side of the great divide, each of whom gives him a different perspective on resolving his personal schism (and by extension the split between Israel and Palestine).
Produced via a lengthy process that brought together TJT members with artists and others with personal experiences from both sides of the Jewish/Palestinian chasm, Blood Relative is sure to tweak sensitivities. In fact, TJT counts on it -- cast/audience dialogues follow many performances, giving theatergoers a chance to discuss what they've seen onstage and maybe even come to terms with their own contradictory emotions. The play opens at 7 tonight (and runs through April 17 in San Francisco, after which it moves to Berkeley's Julia Morgan Center for an April 21-May 1 run) at Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida (at Mariposa), S.F. Tickets are $12-35; call 285-8080 or visit www.atjt.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
Usually, the lightning wit of talented actors is the only tool onstage during improvisational theater performances. Electric Candyland has plenty of that: Its performers hail from high-quality outfits including Killing My Lobster, the Legal Briefs, and Tilted Frame. But the show also boasts a load of technology to help the spontaneous action along: Internet searches and live video feeds thrown up on viewing screens, for example. The intersection of real-time research and real-time sketch writing could easily be as funny as regular improv and as bizarre as regular Net surfing. The show starts at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (through March 26) at the Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth Street), S.F. Admission is $15; call 896-6477 or visit www.offmarkettheater.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Vintage rock returns
In an era when bands were anything but subtle, Blue Oyster Cult carved out a niche amongst '70s Bad Company sound-alikes with just a few atmospheric hits ("Don't Fear the Reaper," "Burning for You"), plus some memorably awful clunkers ("Godzilla," oh the pain!). Add in a little dark imagery (the band's logo references the Titan god who swallowed his son, the Grim Reaper) and a killer light show, and you've got the formula for three decades of arena tours. These days the band members hide sags and wrinkles under black leather and shades. But they can still make those electric guitars wail, and any formerly troubled teen who hatched suicide plans to the strains of "Reaper" will still feel the magic at a live Cult gig. The Substitutes open at 8 p.m. at Slim's, 333 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $25; call 255-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
Off the Wall
Dance that will floor you
Remember the brain-shifting experience of learning about negative space, and realizing that space holding nothing can be as artistically important as occupied space? Lizz Roman & Dancers take the idea to the next level in CellGround, a site-specific "dance installation": Performers are set to use the entire venue as a "floor": This includes the walls, ceilings, and rafters of the giant warehouse. In addition, the audience moves from the main floor to a second-tier seating area (as the dancers move downstairs) midperformance, for an additional change in perspective.
Ms. Roman's choreography has gotten plenty of attention from Bay Area dance fans, and her focus on architecture makes her a treat for intellectuals as well. The dance installation begins at 8 p.m. nightly (and continues March 24-26) at Cell Space, 2050 Bryant (at 19th Street), S.F. Admission is $20; call 269-1283 or visit www.cellspace.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
The name pretty much says it all: Mandonna. These fun-loving lads adore the Material Girl, and they're just waiting for you to justify their love. Complete with elaborate costume changes and slutty dance moves, the band's show is an incredibly popular collection of Madonna's greatest hits. Lead singer Mark Edwards is goofy, adorable, and heavily bearded, and his versatile lungs have charmed many a wannabe. The bikini-clad dancers get crazy for you, the band is burnin' up, and audiences generally get into the groove. Open your heart as Tom Jonesing opens at 8 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $15; call 885-0750 or visit www.mandonna.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city