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
Hot Greeks. To complement their wildly successful (and deservedly so) run of Pearls over Shanghai (running through August), Russell Blackwood and his merrily debaucherous Thrillpeddlers are simultaneously putting on the only other scripted Cockettes musical, Hot Greeks. It's a loose interpretation of Aristophanes' Lysistrata (the women of Greece try to end the Peloponnesian War by withholding sex from their men), in which the soldiers are college footballers and the women are cheerleaders. Most of the actors are in drag (if in clothes at all), plenty of double entendres are involved ("Everybody's got a buddy on the front"), and exposed cocks are — often literally — flying everywhere. The plot is paper-thin, but the company's enthusiasm, the lush costuming, and some of the songs ("The Hot Twat of Tangier") are quite entertaining. The second act, hosted by original Cockette composer and actor Scrumbly Koldewyn, plays as a depraved history and cabaret performance of random songs from other 1970s Cockettes productions, including the hilarious "Journey to the Center of Uranus!" Greeks feels more like a B-side to the truly thrilling Pearls, but together they revive a sexy history and tradition that feels truly San Francisco. It's freakishly fun. Through June 27 at the Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), S.F. $30-$69; 800-838-3006 or www.thrillpeddlers.com. (Nathaniel Eaton) Reviewed May 5.
In the Wake. As she did with her award-winning play, Well, the profoundly talented playwright Lisa Kron continues her exploration of the blind spots of the middle class. With In the Wake, she presents Ellen (the superb Heidi Schreck), a thirtysomething white, well-spoken liberal in a bubble of her own demographic — like many folks in the Bay Area. Set during the disputed Bush/Gore election of 2000 and through the start of the Iraq war — an "incomprehensible time," in Ellen's view — we meet a woman in intellectual and emotional crisis as chinks in her armor start to appear. She can see everyone else's weaknesses, but struggles to spot her own flaws. Kron writes all sides thoroughly and brilliantly; she has no political agenda except perhaps to show that interconnectedness is the key to understanding our experience. This play is a powerful statement that we must question everything and everyone — including ourselves. Through June 27 at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2015 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley. $13.50-$71; 510-647-2949 or www.berkeleyrep.org. (N.E.) Reviewed May 26.
Slasher. Apparent opening-night jitters, compounded by chronic set-change mishaps, didn't daunt the troupers in director Jon Tracy's production of Allison Moore's play. It just made everybody punchier, which seemed appropriate for the material. If only the material hadn't then let them down. Stuck waiting tables at a Hooters-esque dive in small-town Texas, a young woman (Tonya Glanz) has to be the family breadwinner, on account of dad being gone and mom (SF Playhouse cofounder Susi Damilano) having somehow disabled herself with seething righteous-feminist rage and a daily indulgence in pills. Thus: the decidedly mixed blessing of being cast by a desperate scumbag director (Robert Parsons) as the "last girl" (to die) in his newest no-budget slasher flick. "It's not real, mother," she explains. "I'm in control." Reply: "You're actually retarded, aren't you?" Conflicts escalate thereafter, as Moore piles up problems of female empowerment, exploitation, radicalism, and violence, but doesn't quite know what to do with them. Well, who does, right? Shouting out but then shying away from its own ambition, the play does indulge the dumb, primal fun of genre frolic and decadent degradation, only to give up on properly accounting for it. But at least the cast and crew don't cop out. Through June 5 at SF Playhouse, 588 Sutter (at Mason), S.F. $40; 677-9596 or www.sfplayhouse.org. (Jonathan Kiefer) Reviewed May 26.
Abigail: Salem Witch Trials – The Rock Opera: Through Sept. 23, 9 p.m., $10. Temple, 540 Howard (at First St.), 978-9942, www.templesf.com.
All My Sons: Arthur Miller's play, presented by the Actors Theatre, directed by Joyce Henderson. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through June 12. Actors Theatre San Francisco, 855 Bush (at Taylor), 345-1287, www.actorstheatresf.org.
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.
The Breath of Life: Presented by Spare Stage. Through June 6. Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa (at Florida), 621-7978, www.theatreofyugen.org.
Forever Never Comes: Presented by Crowded Fire. June 5-26. Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma (at Sixth St.), 776-1747, www.boxcartheatre.org.
Formerly Known As: A Festival of Art, Video, Writing, and Performance by Male Sex Workers: Curated by Kirk Read, featuring performances by Suppositori Spelling, Inbred Hybrid Collective, Adela Vazquez, Jesse Hewit, Christraper Sings, George Birimisa, Cyd Nova, Kirk Read, Ben McCoy, Jaime Cortez, horehound stillpoint, and more. Thu., June 3; Fri., June 4, www.armyoflovers.org. Center for Sex & Culture, 1519 Mission (at 11th St.), 255-1155, www.sexandculture.org.