Ten Must-See Spring Season Bay Area Plays

Out of Sight
Jan. 13-Feb. 13 at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), S.F. $15-$50; 800-838-3006 or www.themarsh.org.
What's that? You say you didn't ask for a one-woman show about lesbians, Palestine, and juggling? Well, the Marsh is giving it to you anyway, courtesy of confirmed genius Sara Felder. You're welcome.

Bone to Pick/Diadem
Jan. 14-Feb. 13 at EXIT on Taylor, 277 Taylor (at Eddy), S.F. $15-$50; 419-3584 or www.cuttingball.com.
Cutting Ball is one of San Francisco's most dependable outlets for smart, offbeat, well-produced plays, and this month the company is bringing back an audience favorite. In 2008, playwright Eugenie Chan reimagined the Ariadne myth in a short play called Bone to Pick, and now she's written a sort of prequel called Diadem. The two shows will be performed in tandem, with the exceptional Paige Rogers revisiting the role of Ariadne.

Clybourne Park
Jan. 20-Feb. 13 at A.C.T., 415 Geary (at Mason), S.F. $10-$83; 749-2228 or www.act-sf.org.
Call it the story of Hayes Valley (or any other "emerging" neighborhood in any major American city). Bruce Norris' critically lauded comedy Clybourne Park, winner of the London Evening Standard Award for Best New Play, makes its West Coast premiere this month at A.C.T. The play opens in 1959, with a white couple selling their Chicago home to a black family; in Act II, we find ourselves in the same home 50 years later, as the forces of gentrification transform the neighborhood back into a state of blinding whiteness. The show marks the A.C.T. mainstage debut of director Jonathan Moscone, whose productions at Cal Shakes are always worth a look. This is shaping up to be the local stage event of early 2011.

Harper Regan
Jan. 25-Mar. 5 at SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), S.F. $30-$45; 677-9596 or www.sfplayhouse.org.
Director Amy Glazer is one of San Francisco's foremost specialists in putting together sturdy interpretations of tough, new, little-seen plays. This month, she's at the helm of the West Coast premiere of acclaimed UK playwright Simon Stephens' Harper Regan, a play about an Englishwoman who simply walks out of her life, without reason or explanation, for 48 chaotic hours.

Next to Normal
Jan. 25-Feb. 20 at the Curran Theatre, 445 Geary (at Mason), S.F. $30-$99; 551-2000 or www.shnsf.com.
I don't usually get too excited about Broadway touring productions that make a stop in San Francisco — every show tends to be a pale imitation of the original staging. But Next to Normal, which won a Pulitzer for squeezing a lot of good tunes out of the agony of bipolar disorder, promises to be an exception. Alice Ripley reprises her Tony-winning role as a suburban mother struggling with mental illness.

Collapse
Jan. 28-Mar. 6 at Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley. $10-$55; 510-843-4822 or www.auroratheatre.org.
When the Mississippi River Bridge collapsed in Minneapolis in 2007, you probably didn't figure that somebody would write a comedy about it. But in Allison Moore's new play, making its world premiere at Aurora, the bridge's massive structural failure serves as a backdrop (and, presumably, a metaphor) for infertility, unemployment, and unexpected visits from crazy family members.

Hobo Grunt Circle
Feb. 17-Mar. 5 at EXIT Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Mason), S.F. $15-$25; 673-3847 or www.sffringe.org.
You may think you have an aversion to pitbulls, clowns, or both, but don't let that stop you from checking this out. Developed by New York's acclaimed puppet-theatre ensemble Lone Wolf Tribe, Hobo Grunt Circle tells the (mostly silent) story of a clown nursing an injured pit bull back to health.

Ruined
Feb. 25-Apr. 10 at Berkeley Rep, 2025 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley. $14.50-$73; 510-647-2949 or www.berkeleyrep.org.
These days, Berkeley Rep is best known for exporting shows to New York, but the company still imports plenty of good stuff from the Big Apple. This February brings the Bay Area premiere of Ruined, recipient of a 2009 Pulitzer. Lynn Nottage's uplifting, intense, unapologetically political drama focuses on the plight of women living in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Beardo
Mar. 23-Apr. 24 at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby (at Martin Luther King), Berkeley. $TBA; 510-841-6500 or www.shotgunplayers.org.
It takes some chutzpah to create a musical about Rasputin — not least when your work goes by the cheeky name of Beardo. Playwright Jason Craig and composer Dave Malloy, the guys responsible for 2008's unlikely hit Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage, are back at Shotgun to take a crack at the 20th century's most inimitable, unkillable hero-villain.

Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven
Mar. 24-Apr. 16 at the Thick House, 1695 18th St. (at Carolina), S.F. $TBA; 255-7846 or www.crowdedfire.org.
Oversensitive liberals take heed: Playwright Young Jean Lee openly mocks conventional pieties about race and ethnicity in America. Her much-praised Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven is a series of vignettes, one of which has an unnamed Korean-American woman finding herself pummeled by three Koreans in traditional dress. The show appears to be a great match for Crowded Fire, a feisty company specializing in difficult, subversive works by emerging playwrights. Just don't go expecting anything in the way of comfort.

 
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