I recently received an e-mail from a theater-going friend, asking why SF Weekly sometimes lets great productions slip by without so much as a mention while consistently devoting column inches to, as he put it, "the typically bland A.C.T. show." Our primary obligation is to aim, within certain parameters like space and geographic spread, for diversity to review, indiscriminately, big productions and small, classic and contemporary plays, text-based, musical, and experimental theater. Yet despite this goal, it would be a lie to deny the comparative frequency with which certain performing arts organizations appear on these pages. And as San Francisco's flagship theater company, A.C.T. gets more coverage in these pages than most.
Looking back at A.C.T.'s last few seasons, I am beginning to wonder if my friend has a point. Most of the memorable productions that have come out of the Geary Theater in recent times (e.g. like The Black Rider and The Overcoat) have been imports from outside rather than homegrown work. I can count the number of shows that have gripped me in the last couple of years on half of one hand. I'm trying to remain positive, but it's getting increasingly hard. I wonder what it will take to turn this critic's obscene sense of optimism into the merely obscene?