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Our critics weigh in on local theater

Wednesday, Jun 3 2009
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Wreckage.Two siblings find themselves alone on a strange beach, then embark on a gender-bending odyssey — it's a premise that worked beautifully for Shakespeare in Twelfth Night. In Wreckage, currently making its premiere at Crowded Fire, playwright Caridad Svich takes that premise into far less subtle territory, placing her two main characters in lurid situations to highlight the fluidity of gender roles. As if that weren't heavy enough, she loads the script with poetic language that strains under its own importance, full of portentous phrases like "the cold massacre of night" and words like "beauteous." None of the ideas are especially fresh and none of it feels especially human, at least by the time one of the main characters is raped in a scene more exploitative than the "culture of brutality" Svich intends to critique. Too bad, because the production looks fantastic: Tim Szostek's smart lighting design makes the most of Evren Odcikin's elegant set, and Wesley Cabral's multimedia segments serve as the show's stylish high points. The actors, meanwhile, try their best with the dialogue, but they're given lines that no performer could sell. It's not their fault that they signed up for drama and got stuck with kitsch. Through June 6 at Boxcar Playhouse, 505 Natoma (at Sixth St.), S.F. $15-$25; 433-1235 or www.crowdedfire.org. (Chris Jensen) Reviewed May 27.

Fukú Americanus. After finding great success bringing Dave Eggers' novel You Shall Know Our Velocity to the stage (Sacrament, 2004), the Mission's Campo Santo is tackling Junot Díaz' Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. It's a wildly ambitious task given that the novel covers three generations of a Dominican family emigrating to New Jersey, a good dose of Dominican history, a family curse (fukú), and overflows with references to '80s nerd pop culture. Much like the book, the first section of this adaptation, which introduces the overweight "ghetto nerd" Oscar (Brian Rivera), is a bit overwhelming in style and language. The English and Spanish dialogue is rapid-fire, with actors jumping around and shouting over each other. By the second section — when Oscar's punky sister, Lola (Vanessa Cota), and his mother (Maria Candelaria) and grandmother (Anna Maria Luera) are introduced — character and plot ground themselves and the audience can better appreciate Díaz' acrobatic language. The cast is rock solid; the highlight is Carlos Aguirre, who not only skillfully plays multiple roles but also beatboxes a live soundtrack over this whirling dervish of a play. This production is funny, energetic, and in-your-face; the exact qualities that make the book so original and wondrous. Through June 21 at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th St.), S.F. $15-$25; 626-2787 ext. 109 or www.theintersection.org. (Nathaniel Eaton) Reviewed May 27.

At Home at the Zoo: Edward Albee's drama, directed by Rebecca Taichman. Starting June 5, Tuesdays-Saturdays. Continues through July 5. American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), 749-2228, www.act-sfbay.org.

The Barber of Seville: Pocket Opera's production of Gioachino Rossini's piece. Sat., June 6, 2 p.m.; Sun., June 14, 2 p.m. Legion of Honor, 100 34th Ave. (at Clement), 863-3330, www.thinker.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.

Captain Stormfield's Report from Heaven: The afterlife according to Mark Twain. Fridays, Sundays. Continues through June 28, www.thepeoplestheatre.com. Pena Pachamama, 1630 Powell, 646-0018, penapachamama.com.

Circus Finelli: Slavic slapstick cabaret. Starting June 5, Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through June 21. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 730-3433, www.stagewerx.org.

Dead Man's Cell Phone: Sarah Ruhl's comedy about technology. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Continues through June 13. SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596, www.sfplayhouse.org.

East 14th Street: Don Reed's solo show about growing up in Oakland. Fridays-Sundays. Continues through June 14. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750, www.themarsh.org.

Eccentrics of San Francisco's Barbary Coast ... A Magical Escapade: Historical magic show with Walt Anthony, David Miller, Brian Scott, and Ruth Fraser. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 27, $30, www.sanfranciscomagicparlor.com. Chancellor Hotel, 433 Powell (at Post), 362-2004, www.chancellorhotel.com.

Fukú Americanus: Based on the novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Through June 21, 8 p.m., $15-$25. Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th St.), 626-3311, www.theintersection.org.

FURYfactory 2009: Festival of works from nationwide ensembles. June 9-27, www.foolsfury.org. Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida (at Mariposa), 292-1233, www.atjt.com.

Jericho Road Improvement Association: Hella Fresh Theatre's production about an Oakland police officer. Starting June 4, Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through June 27, www.hellafreshtheatre.com. Phoenix Arts Association Theatre, 414 Mason (at Geary), Suite 601, 989-0023, www.phoenixtheatresf.org.

KML Hits Highway 101: The comedy troupe goes on the road with the Schacter family. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through June 14. Zeum Theater, 221 Fourth St. (at Howard), 820-3320, www.zeum.org/visitor/zeumTheater.html.

Krapp's Last Tape: Cutting Ball Theater's production of Samuel Beckett's drama. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through June 21. Exit Theatre on Taylor, 277 Taylor (at Ellis), 931-3847, www.sffringe.org.

The Land of Infants: Megan O'Patry's drama about grave diggers and a mob boss. Starting June 4, Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through June 27. El Teatro de la Esperanza, 2940 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 338-1341.

Lettucetown Lies: Kenny Yun comes of age in Salinas. Starting June 5, Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through June 27. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750, www.themarsh.org.

Love Humiliation & Karaoke: Enzo Lombard's play about losing everything, directed by W. Kamau Bell. Starting June 4, Thursdays. Continues through June 25. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 730-3433, www.stagewerx.org.

Mauritius: Theresa Rebeck's play about a dead mother's inheritance. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through June 28. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina & Buchanan, 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org.

Monday Night Marsh: On select Mondays a different lineup of musicians, actors, performance artists, and others takes the stage at this regular event that's hosted local celebs like Josh Kornbluth and Marga Gomez in the past; see www.themarsh.org for a lineup of future shows. Mondays, $7. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750, www.themarsh.org.

Monty Python's Spamalot: Based on the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through July 5. Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor (at Market), 551-2000.

Mr. Marmalade: Noah Haidle's comedy about a young girl, produced by Custom Made Theatre Co. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through June 13. The Custom Stage, 965 Mission (at Sixth St.), 626-2060‚ www.custommade.org.

Not a Genuine Black Man: Brian Copeland's long-running drama about San Leandro. Through July 12. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 820-1656, www.cafearts.com.

Now and at the Hour: Christian Cagigal's magic show. Starting June 5, Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through Aug. 15. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 931-3847, www.theexit.org.

Point Break Live!: Bank-robbing surfers make audiences happy. Through June 30, 9 p.m., $25, www.myspace.com/pointbreaklive. CELLspace, 2050 Bryant (at 18th St.), 648-7562, www.cellspace.org.

Porgy and Bess: The story of the beggar and the woman he loves, directed by Francesca Zambello. June 9-27. War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness (at Grove), 864-3330, www.sfwmpac.org.

Shopping! The Musical: Songs and sketches about shopping. Daily, $23-$29, www.shoppingthemusical.com. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100, www.sheltontheater.com.

ShortLived 2.0: Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 27, $15-$20, www.pianofight.com. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 820-1656, www.cafearts.com.

Some Men: Playwright Terrence McNally marches through queer history. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through July 12. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org.

Strings: Terrence Beswick's play about brothers, produced by Guerrilla Rep. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 6, $10-$15. Mama Calizo's Voice Factory, 1519 Mission (at Van Ness), 690-9410, www.voicefactorysf.org.

Sultry Summer Magic: Teatro ZinZanni's new show features a rotating crew of headliners during the run, including Melanie Stace, Edna Wright and Honey Cone, Melba Moore, Sally Kellerman, and Darlene Love. Wednesdays-Sundays, $117-$200, 438-2668. Teatro ZinZanni, Piers 27 and 29 (Embarcadero & Battery), www.zinzanni.org.

Three on a Party: Word for Word's production of works by Tennessee Williams, Gertrude Stein, and Armistead Maupin. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through June 7. Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 861-5079, www.therhino.org.

Wicked: The Tony Award–winning musical. Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through June 27. Orpheum Theater, 1192 Market (at Eighth St.), 551-2000.

Wreckage: Caridad Svich's drama about two boys in love. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through June 6. Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma (at Sixth St.), 776-1747, www.boxcartheatre.org.

About The Author

Hiya Swanhuyser

About The Author

Nathaniel Eaton

About The Author

Michael Leaverton

About The Author

Chris Jensen

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