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Our critics weigh in on local theater

Tings Dey Happen. Based on his experiences as a Fulbright Scholar studying oil politics in Nigeria (American's fifth-biggest oil supplier), solo performer Dan Hoyle drills deep beneath the surface of media hype and NGO cant to help us understand the forces at work behind the oil-rich country's escalating cycle of corruption and violence. On his journey backward and forward between Nigeria's oil capital, Port Harcourt, and the lawless hinterlands of the Niger Delta, Hoyle — with acute attention to physical detail (and an ear for pidgin) — embodies a soft-spoken, 23-year-old rebel sniper whose chief desire is to obtain a university degree; a warlord armed with four cellphones and a family photo album, like Marlon Brando in The Godfather; and a nerdy Japanese member of the Young Diplomats Club in Lagos working on a thesis about the Tanzanian cashew nut, among many others. Like Anna Deavere Smith, one of the most famous practitioners of this style of show, Hoyle takes a journalistic approach. But unlike Smith, whose slavish impersonation of the speech nuances of her interviewees seems more stenography than artistry, Hoyle filters his Nigerian experience through his vivid imagination, creating full-blooded characters that are as theatrical as they are real. Through March 31 at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia (between 21st and 22nd sts.), S.F. Tickets are $15-22; call 826-5750 or visit www.themarsh.org. (C.V.) Reviewed Jan. 10.

365 Plays/365 Days
New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972.
Altar Boyz
Orpheum Theater, 1192 Market (at Eighth St.), 512-7770.
American $uicide
The Thick House, 1695 18th St. (at Arkansas), 401-8081.
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), 433-1226.
Big City Improv
Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 433-1226.
The Birthday Party
Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley, 510-843-4822.
'Bot
Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina & Buchanan, 441-8822.
Chemical Imbalance
Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.
The Cider House Rules
Zeum Theater, 221 Fourth St. (at Howard), 820-3320.
Dead Certain
Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 896-6477.
Emperor Norton, The Musical
Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 433-1226.
Family Jewels: the Making of Veronica Klaus
Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 861-5079.
Fiction
Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Geary), Suite 601, 989-0023.
GayProv
Off-Market Studio, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 896-6477.
Guys and Dolls
Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic (at Locust), Walnut Creek, 925-943-7469.
Hardly Breathing
Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.
Hedda Gabler
American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), 749-2228.
How We First Met
Theatre 39 at Pier 39, 2 Beach (Beach & Embarcadero).
Improv Revolution
Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 896-6477.
Jesus Hopped the A Train
SF Playhouse, 536 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596.
Lola Montez
Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant (at Ellsworth), Berkeley, 510-558-1381.
Love, Chaos & Dinner
Pier 29, Embarcadero (at Battery), 273-1620.
Menopause the Musical
Theatre 39 at Pier 39, 2 Beach (Beach & Embarcadero), 433-3939.
Monday Night Improv Jam
Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 368-9909.
Monday Night Make Em Ups
San Francisco Comedy College, 414 Mason, #705 (at Geary), 921-2051.
Monday Night Marsh
The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.
Murder Mystery Dinner
The Archbishop's Mansion, 1000 Fulton (at Steiner), 563-7872.
Nathan the Wise
Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida (at Mariposa), 285-8282.
Once Upon a Mattress
Diego Rivera Theater/CCSF, 50 Phelan (at Judson), 239-3100.
One-Man Star Wars Trilogy
Post Street Theatre, 450 Post (at Mason), 321-2900.
A Place to Stand
Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th St.), 626-3311.
Pleasure and Pain
Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina & Buchanan, 441-8822.
The Rose Tattoo
Actors Theatre San Francisco, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 296-9179.
Rust
Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina & Buchanan, 441-8822.
Saturday Night Special
Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 433-1226.
Shopping! The Musical
Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 433-1226.
To the Lighthouse
Berkeley Repertory's Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley, 510-647-2949.
Trying
Lucie Stern Theater, 1305 Middlefield (at Embarcadero), Palo Alto, 650-903-6000.
Woyzeck
Exit Theatre on Taylor, 277 Taylor (at Ellis), 673-3847.

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