Wash, Rinse, Repeat: The Big Funk

A convincing peek at four romantic explorers, held in a tent behind a Castro salon

Here's a postmodern, urban fairy tale about the subtle entwining of lovers' neuroses, the comforting and constricting circle of family, and the intoxicating promise of love's redemption. Playwright John Patrick Shanley offers a convincing, Freudian peek at the seething subconscious of four modern romantic explorers. AtmosTheatre's production takes place in a tent behind a Castro District hair salon, with white Christmas lights, blankets, and cheap wine to ward off the cold. It's a lovely setting for a satisfying evening of theater. The actors find the rhythm of Shanley's Irish, working-class flow and fill the space with humor and passion. The writing is raw, earnest, and fiery, naked in its desire to address and transcend the contradictions of contemporary existence. It's fitting, then, that two of the most striking images are of people without clothes. The first act offers the powerful scene of a woman being bathed onstage, which leaves the character (and the audience) feeling innocent and redeemed. In the final moments of the second act, Shanley abandons narrative cohesion and holds a mirror up to nature, as one of the characters sheds his clothes and confronts us with the fragile, fleeting nature of our being. It's not sexual, and it's not aggressive — it's a casual, liberating flash of true freedom. Frank Wortham


Through Nov. 18 at Every 6 Weeks Hair Salon, 323 Noe (at Market), S.F. Tickets are $10-15; visit www.atmostheatre.com.

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