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Our critics weigh in on local theater

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.

2009 Rhino Benefit Spectacular!: Starring Leanne Borghesi, Laurie Bushman, Mike Finn, Scott Gessford, David Goodwin, and many others. Sun., June 14, 7 p.m. Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 861-5079, www.therhino.org.

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

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The Barber of Seville: Pocket Opera's production of Gioachino Rossini's piece. 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.

Brain-Dead Alive: Through June 27, 8 p.m., $20, www.primitivescrewheads.com. Great Star Theater, 630 Jackson (at Kearny).

Captain Stormfield's Report from Heaven: The afterlife according to Mark Twain, with dinner starting at 6 p.m. on Fridays and 5 p.m. on Sundays. Fridays, 7 p.m.; Sundays, 5:30 p.m. Continues through June 28, www.thepeoplestheatre.com. Pena Pachamama, 1630 Powell, (415) 646-0018, penapachamama.com.

Circus Finelli: Slavic slapstick cabaret. 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.

Driven: A staged reading of Patricia Milton's drama, directed by Caroline Altman. Tue., June 16, 7:30 p.m. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 730-3433, www.stagewerx.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.

Eighth Annual Bloomsday Celebration: Actors Robert Ayres, Bruce Bierman, Renee Gibbons, Oonagh Kavanagh, Laura Sheppard, and Maurice Wren present dramatic readings from Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Dubliners. Tue., June 16, 6:30 p.m. Mechanics' Institute Library, 57 Post (at Market), 393-0101, www.milibrary.org.

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

The Golden Girls: The Gay Episodes: With Heklina, Pollo Del Mar, Matthew Martin, Cookie Dough, Mike Finn, and Laurie Bushman. Thu., June 11, 7 & 9 p.m.; Fri., June 12, 7 & 9 p.m.; Sat., June 13, 5, 7 & 9 p.m.; Sun., June 14, 3 & 5 p.m.; Thu., June 18, 7 & 9 p.m.; Fri., June 19, 7 & 9 p.m.; Sat., June 20, 5, 7 & 9 p.m.; Sun., June 21, 3 & 5 p.m.; Thu., June 25, 7 & 9 p.m.; Fri., June 26, 7 & 9 p.m., www.heklina.com. Mama Calizo's Voice Factory, 1519 Mission (at Van Ness), 690-9410, www.voicefactorysf.org.

Jericho Road Improvement Association: Hella Fresh Theatre's production about an Oakland police officer. 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.

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