Woman's Will offers capitalist critique for free

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Through Aug. 17. Free. Call 510-420-0813 or visit www.womanswill.org.
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It's tough to criticize free theater in the park, especially when the material in question is more adventurous than, say, Shakespeare's greatest hits. So bravo to the all-female troupe Woman's Will for staging The Good Person of Szechuan, Bertolt Brecht's 1943 exploration of the disconnect between capitalist endeavor and human decency. The story concerns good-natured prostitute Shan Te (El Beh), who attempts to start her own tobacco business, only to be foiled by the greediness of her predatory friends and relatives. In response, she disguises herself as a man named Shui Ta — a ruthless efficiency expert who enacts her fantasies of entrepreneurial aggression and keeps her business in the black. Brecht's brand of socialist censure is the perfect material for free theater in public spaces, but his sly comic style requires a tonal precision Woman's Will just doesn't achieve in this somewhat sloppy production. If you go, make sure to bring sunscreen and plenty of cushions: At just short of three hours, this is one hell of a long time to park your ass on the grass for an uneven critique of capitalism.

 
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