By Jonathan Ramos
By Juan De Anda
By Mollie McWilliams
By Juan De Anda
By Mollie McWilliams
By Juan De Anda
By Jonathan Curiel
By Alexis Coe
The Model Apartment. Comedy may be tragedy plus time, but sometimes a tragedy is so immense that it can only devolve into savage farce. Donald Margulies' The Model Apartment, currently playing at Traveling Jewish Theatre, considers the limits of comedy by focusing on a pair of Holocaust survivors in their golden years. Lola (Naomi Newman) and Max (Jarion Monroe) are retirees making the twilight move from Brooklyn to Florida. But their new condo isn't ready, so they relocate temporarily to a model apartment in which everything is a shining, useless surface — the cigarette tray is glued to the coffee table, and the refrigerator is an unplugged prop. As they settle down to sleep, they're confronted by their Nazi-obsessed daughter, Debbie, played here in an aggressively comic and frankly stunning performance by Amy Resnick. For the rest of the night, Lola and Max find themselves dwelling on past horrors, all the while surrounded by the more banal horrors of the present. This production, smartly directed by Amy Glazer, works best whenever Debbie is onstage to dredge up her mother's unreliable memories from the concentration camp — long-buried traumas that emerge amid the oppressive Miami pastels of Lisa Clark's pitch-perfect set. The result is a disorienting, inconclusive fever dream designed to mock the notion that time heals all wounds. Through April 5 at Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida (at 17th St.), S.F. $15-$34; 292-1233 or www.atjt.com. (Chris Jensen) Reviewed March 11.
Where the Sidewalk Ends.The beauty and wonder of this amalgamated adaptation of several classic Shel Silverstein books grab you from the moment the curtain is stripped away. Director and designer Nick Olivero and writer Sarah Savage have created an enchanting world that neatly captures the playfulness of Silverstein's best-loved poems and stories, where the color and warmth of Amy Knight's costumes and Christian Foster Howes' music burst forth from a black-and-white backdrop. Michelle Ianiro is particularly captivating as the nurturing Tree, looking out for the young Shel as he struggles with his mom and falls for the neighborhood girl. His journey from 7-year-old boy to elderly man loses steam in the second half, as Shel ventures off to find his own missing piece. The stage is stripped bare for his big emotional discovery about whom he wants to become as a man and husband, yet the actors don't quite have the chops, nor Savage the nuanced insights, to carry this off. But even if Boxcar Theatre has yet to uncover the "adult" heart of the story, the production is so good at bringing to life the childlike charm, silliness, and joy of Silverstein's books that it's still a pleasure to join in the fun. Through March 27 at Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma (at Sixth St.), S.F. $16-$32; 776-1747 or www.boxcartheare.org. (Molly Rhodes) Reviewed March 11.
Act a Lady: Gender bending in a small, Prohibition-era town. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through April 26. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org.
Audacious Artefacts: Parisian Grand Guignol: Through May 2, $15-$30. The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), 377-4202, www.thrillpeddlers.com.
Baptized to the Bone: A comedy by Dave Johnson about a theater producer scrambling for money. Starting March 27, Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through May 3. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org.
BATS: Sunday Players: Each week Bay Area Theatresports players pit their improv work against all comers as the audience votes them off one by one until the winner stands alone on the stage. Sundays, 7 p.m., $5-$8, www.improv.org. Bayfront Theater, 16 Marina (at Laguna), 474-6776, www.improv.org/shows/bayfront.htm.
Beach Blanket Babylon: A North Beach perennial featuring crazy hats, media personality caricatures, a splash of romance, and little substance. Now with Rod Blagojevich! Wednesdays, Thursdays, 8 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 6:30 & 9:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 5 p.m., $25-$80, www.beachblanketbabylon.com. Club Fugazi, 678 Green (at Powell), 421-4222.
Big City Improv: Actors take audience suggestions and create comedy from nothing. Fridays, 10 p.m., $15-$20, www.bigcityimprov.com. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100, www.sheltontheater.com.
E.O. 9066: Lunatique Fantastique's puppetry. Saturdays, 1 p.m. Continues through April 25, $15-$50. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750, www.themarsh.org.
La Favorita: Pocket Opera's production of Gaetano Donizetti's opera. Starting March 29, Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through April 5. Florence Gould Theater at the Legion of Honor, 100 34th Ave. (at El Camino del Mar), 863-3330, www.famsf.org/legion/index.asp.
High Spirits: A musical based on Coward's Blithe Spirit. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through April 5. Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson (at Front), 788-7469, www.eurekatheatre.org.
KML Klass Reading: The troupe performs skits written by Killing My Lobster's sketch class. Fri., March 27; Sat., March 28. Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th St.), 626-3311, www.theintersection.org.
Lead: Lesbians rule the world in this Crazed Ape production. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through March 28. Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847, www.sffringe.org/.