By Joseph Geha
By Jonathan Kiefer
By Katie Tandy
By Mollie McWilliams
By Jennifer Baires
By Jonathan Curiel
By Sherilyn Connelly
An Anonymous Story by Anton Chekhov. Why turn a Chekhov story into a play? It can't just be because Central Works' stately but somehow cozy space in the Julia Morgan–designed Berkeley City Club works so well as a Russian drawing room. Perhaps to challenge the old master's own judgments about which of his tales worked better for the stage than on the page? In this case, Gary Graves' intelligent adaptation notwithstanding, the original author did seem to know what was best. In 1887 or thereabouts, a tubercular revolutionary (Richard Frederick) poses under a false name as the footman of a philandering St. Petersburg bureaucrat (Jordan Winer), presumably for access to the man's powerful father (also Winer). But the revolutionary's plan changes when he falls for his boss' mistress (Cat Thompson) and considers ditching his political quest to run away with her. There's no question of Chekhov's eloquence, here delineating conflicts between wise and weary worldviews as sharply as it does those between social classes, nor any complaint to register against Søren Oliver's undaunted direction or Frederick's quietly commanding central performance. (The game cast also includes Sandra Schlecter as our man's thieving fellow servant and Dennis Markam as his employer's hoggish aristocrat pal.) Maybe the problem has to do with the exposedness of theater foiling the relative seclusion of prose: How much anonymity can a man have if he's standing right in front of us? Through March 28 at Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant (at Ellsworth), Berkeley. $14-$25; 510-558-1381 or www.centralworks.org. (Jonathan Kiefer) Reviewed March 10.
Baby: A Musical: Presented by Ray of Light Theatre. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through April 19. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 336-0513, www.cafearts.com/offmarket.
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.
Caddyshack Live!: Through March 27, 8 p.m., $20. Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987, www.darkroomsf.com.
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory: Presented by Young Performers Theatre. Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through March 28. Young Performers Theatre, 204 Bay St., Fort Mason (Marina & Buchanan), 346-5550, www.ypt.org.
Golden Boy: Tuesdays-Thursdays. Continues through March 25. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100, www.sheltontheater.com.
Halka: Presented by Pocket Opera. Sat., March 27, 2 p.m.; Sun., March 28, 2 p.m. Legion of Honor, 100 34th Ave. (at Clement), 863-3330, www.thinker.org.
Hearts on Fire: Thelma Houston, El Vez, and Christine Deaver perform in Teatro ZinZanni's new show. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 11:30 a.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through May 16, $117-$145. Pier 29, Embarcadero (at Battery), 273-1620.
Master Class: Terrence McNally's drama, directed by Arturo Catricala. Starting March 27, Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through May 2. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972, www.nctcsf.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.
Now and at the Hour: Christian Cagigal's popular magic-themed show. Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through March 27. Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847, www.sffringe.org.
Othello: Presented by African-American Shakespeare. Starting March 25, Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through April 18. African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton (at Webster), 922-2049, www.aaacc.org.
Point Break Live!: The boys are back in town again. Fridays, Saturdays, 9 p.m. Continues through May 1, www.pointbreaklivesf.com. Metreon, 101 Fourth St. (at Mission), 369-6030, www.westfield.com/metreon.
Scalpel!: D'Arcy Drollinger's musical. March 30-April 17, $20-$35. Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St. (at York), 641-7657, www.brava.org.
Sheherezade X: A short-play festival presented by the Playwrights' Center of San Francisco. Through March 27. The Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Post), 989-0023, www.phoenixtheatresf.org.
Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding: Saturdays, 7 p.m.; Fridays, 7 p.m., $88.50-$115.50, www.tonyandtinasanfrancisco.com. Swiss Louis Restaurant at Pier 39, 2 Beach (at Embarcadero), 421-2913, www.swisslouis.com.
Virgin Play Series: Staged Readings: Our Dad is in Atlantis by Javier Malpica. Mon., March 29, free. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina & Buchanan, 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org.
Wicked: Meet the witches of Oz. Through April 11. Orpheum Theater, 1192 Market (at Eighth St.), 551-2000.
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