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Our critics weigh in on local theater

The Bonesetter's Daughter. When most of us in the West think of Chinese civilization, the word "epic" springs to mind. But unlike such recent operatic forays into chinoiserie such as Tan Dun's sprawling 2006 historical saga The First Emperor, novelist Amy Tan and composer Stewart Wallace's jeweled casket of a new opera presents a more intimate view of Chinese culture. The grandiose, sweeping quality of Tan's original 2001 novel chronicling an American-born Chinese woman's relationship with her aging immigrant mother and ghostly Chinese grandmother is mostly absent from this musical adaptation. As in the novel, the opera's narrative moves backward from 1990s San Francisco to rural China of the 1930s and World War II–era Hong Kong. But from Wallace's quietly simmering-shimmering score to Tan's colloquial libretto, the opera bears more resemblance to a portrait painting than a canvas depicting a panoramic vista. Through Oct. 3 at War Memorial Opera House, 3012 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. Tickets are $15-$290; call 864-3330 or visit www.sfopera.com. (Chloe Veltman) Reviewed Sept. 24.

Yellowjackets. Set in 1994 at the dramatist's alma mater, Berkeley High, Itamar Moses' world premiere at Berkeley Rep explores how a bunch of teenagers attempt to cope with a rash of unsettling upheavals that threaten to rupture school life. When a fight breaks out between rival gangs, Berkeley High's leaders decide to instigate a closed-campus policy. Random, unprovoked altercations escalate across campus; the school newspaper comes under fire for running a racially incendiary article; disagreements over plans to abolish the school's tracking program on socioeconomic grounds further hamper students' ability to concentrate on their schoolwork. Over the course of two and a half hours, we get to know and empathize with a cast of contrasting characters. Through Oct. 12 at Berkeley Rep, 2025 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley. Tickets are $13.50-$71; call 510-647-2949 or visit www.berkeleyrep.org. (C.V.) Reviewed Sept. 17.

Beyond the Mirror: A production in conjunction with the Exile Theater of Afghanistan telling the story of three decades of war and occupation. Through Oct. 12. Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St. (at York), 647-2822.

Family Baggage: A series of tragicomic vignettes by Errol Strider and Lou Montgomery. Through Oct. 18. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 896-6477.

Galileo: Bertolt Brecht's play about the later life of Galileo Galilei. Oct. 2-26. The Garage, 975 Howard (at Sixth St.), 289-2000.

The History Boys: A drama by Alan Bennett about eight English schoolboys vying for admittance to prestigious universities. Through Oct. 26. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972.

I'm Yours! Or, Deranged by Love: Precarious Theatre presents a story of star-crossed lovers that mixes Don Quixote with rock 'n' roll. Oct. 2-25. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.

K of D, an Urban Legend: Charlotte is a small-town Midwestern girl with a chilling ability: she can give the "K of D," or "kiss of death." Through Oct. 19. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D (Marina & Buchanan), 441-8822.

May Day Parade: Bugles, Bass Drums & the Baptist Church: A one-man comedy by Wayne Harris. Oct. 4-Nov. 9. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.

My Name Is Vera Cupido: A poetic search for love beyond death by Stephanie Fleischmann. Oct. 4-Nov. 2. The Thick House, 1695 18th St. (at Arkansas), 401-8081.

One-Man Star Wars Trilogy: Charles Ross' comic one-man recreation of the original movies. Through Oct. 12. Post Street Theatre, 450 Post (at Mason), 321-2900.

Orchards: An evening of short plays adapted from stories by Anton Chekhov. Through Oct. 25. Off-Market Studio, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 896-6477.

Russian on the Side: In this one-man comedy cabaret, Mark Nadler performs musical classics, dishing gossip on the composers in between. Oct. 2-Nov. 16. Marines Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter (at Mason), 771-6900.

Saved or Destroyed: A wry comedy by Harry Kondoleon that takes place in a rehearsal hall, merging actors with the parts they play. Oct. 2-11. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.

Vampire Lesbians of Sodom with Sleeping Beauty, or Coma: In these two comedies by Charles Busch, vampiresses meet up in Sodom and a young office temp becomes the face of the '60s. Oct. 2-Nov. 1. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell).

 
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