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Our critics weigh in on local theater

The W. Kamau Bell Curve. After the election of Barack Obama, what could an African-American comedian with a gift for uncovering the nuances of race possibly have to say in our obviously post-race society? Well, it turns out W. Kamau Bell has plenty to say in his latest one-man show. In his laid-back, conversational style, he deftly deconstructs the ponytail Michelle Obama sported when she voted on Election Day; how the world would be a better place if the government would curb anonymous Internet postings with the Say It to My Face Act; and the racism inherent in that hipster staple, superskinny jeans. Not all his musings and observations hit the mark. An extended riff on how John McCain is evil not only seems like an easy target (or "so Bay Area," as Bell would say) but also already old news in what is otherwise a very current and thought-provoking show. Bell has no brilliant solutions to share with us about how we can fix race relations for good, but that's one of his main points. For all the power of electing the country's first black president, there are still some racial issues – a lot of racial issues – where there can be no real meeting in the middle. This show encapsulates beautifully how far we all have come, and how far we've yet to go. Through Dec. 13 at Climate, 285 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F.; Jan. 6-Feb. 28 at SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), S.F. Tickets are $25 (2 for 1 if you bring a friend of a different race); 263-0830 or www.climatetheater.com. (Molly Rhodes) Reviewed Nov. 19.

Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party: Abe Lincoln is outed in this Christmas comedy by Aaron Loeb. Continues through Jan. 7. SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596, www.sfplayhouse.org.

As Bees in Honey Drown: A young gay writer captures the eye of a mysterious woman in black. Through Dec. 21. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org.

Barry Humphries: The Man Who Is Dame Edna: In conversation with Jan Wahl. Fri., Dec. 5, 11:30 a.m. Commonwealth Club, 595 Market (at Second St.), 597-6701, www.commonwealthclub.org.

Beauty and the Beast: RubberMatchSeriez and Footloose take on the classic. Dec. 5-7. Shotwell Studios, 3252A 19th St. (at Folsom), 289-2000, www.venue9.com/shotwell.html.

A Christmas Carol: The A.C.T.'s celebrated show, directed by Domenique Lozano. Dec. 4-27. American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), 749-2228, www.act-sfbay.org.

The Golden Girls Christmas Episodes: w/ Heklina, Cookie Dough, Matthew Martin, & Pollo Del Mar. Dec. 4-27, $20, www.heklina.com. Mama Calizo's Voice Factory, 1519 Mission (at Van Ness), 690-9410, www.voicefactorysf.org.

The Great Puppet Bollywood Extravaganza: The Un-Scripted Theater Company improvises a Bollywood musical. Dec. 4-20. SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596, www.sfplayhouse.org.

Magic Holiday: David Hirata's up-close magic show. Dec. 7-29. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750, www.themarsh.org.

Magic Theatre Raw Play Series: Sick by Zayd Dohrn: Mon., Dec. 8, 6 p.m. Commonwealth Club, 595 Market (at Second St.), 597-6701, www.commonwealthclub.org.

Not a Genuine Black Man: Brian Copeland's one-man show returns! Dec. 4-6. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750, www.themarsh.org.

The Phantom of the Opera: Through Jan. 4. Orpheum Theater, 1192 Market (at Eighth St.), 512-7770.

Star Wars: Live on Stage!: Dec. 5-27, $20, www.darkroomsf.com/starwars. Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987, www.darkroomsf.com.

Tenderloin Xmas Hustler: W/ Michael Turner, Charli Galindo, Jeremy Estrada, Audra Wolfmann, Andy Pettiit, Raya Light. Dec. 4-27, www.tenderloinxmashustler.com. Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Geary), Suite 601, 989-0023.

Wrapping Paper Caper: Liebe Wetzel's Lunatique Fantastique presents a mystery. Dec. 7-Jan. 4. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750, www.themarsh.org.

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