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Our critics weigh in on local theater

Wednesday, Mar 23 2011

40 Pounds in 12 Weeks: A Love Story. "Break out the tissues, I got Daddy issues," Pidge Meade tells us in her new one-woman show, premiering at the Marsh. Sometimes funny, sometimes observant, but mostly self-indulgent and clichéd, 40 Pounds in 12 Weeks tells the story of Meade's battle with her overbearing father, a gymnastics coach who threatened to pull her college funding if she didn't drop 40 pounds over the course of a summer. Since that time, she has weighed as much as 200 pounds and as little as 130, almost constantly yo-yoing from one extreme to the other in the great American pastime of weight loss and gain. She complains about people who, long after she's lost weight, can talk only about the fact that she used to be heavy. But if she weren't guilty of exactly the same behavior, she wouldn't be doing an entire show about her former overweight self. Near the end of the play, Meade acknowledges her tendency toward preachiness and "narcissistic navel-gazing," which may qualify as self-awareness but doesn't make the play itself any less preachy or narcissistic. 40 Pounds is an exercise in pity rather than empathy, and it's a good example of why one-person shows leave so many people cold. Through March 26 at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), S.F. $15-$50; 800-838-3006 or (Chris Jensen) Reviewed March 9.

Sex and Death: A Night with Harold Pinter. Neither The Dumbwaiter nor The Lover can be numbered among Harold Pinter's major works. So it's understandable that Off Broadway West has packaged these one-act plays together under a new name: Sex and Death: A Night with Harold Pinter. The title and pairing are apt, but not perfect. As directed by Cecelia Palmtag, The Lover (a tale of infidelity) often seems more violent than The Dumbwaiter (a tale of two gangsters, directed by Durand Garcia). Like most Pinter plays, they can be played equally well for comic or dramatic effect. The results here are uneven, with Garcia and Palmtag going their own ways on tone, timing, and intensity. The "Death" portion of the evening has its charms, but suffers in part because the central conceit — two men in a room being given nonsensical instructions from an unknown source about a job they're supposed to do — has become something of an avant-garde trope since Pinter wrote it in 1959. The Lover, from 1962, hasn't as successfully infiltrated the culture and so, paradoxically, has aged better. It's hardly a new take on adultery, but it definitely surprises. If you're up for a lot of intensity and the occasional shrug, you'll enjoy rooting through Pinter's work. Through March 26 at the Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Geary), S.F. $35; 407-3214 or (Benjamin Wachs) Reviewed March 9.

007 James Bond in Ladykiller: Live: New play by Jim Fourniadis. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through March 26. $20. Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987.

7 Sins ... One More Time!: Solo performance by comedian James Judd. Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through April 10. $24.81-$40. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.

Bay One Acts Festival: Local theater. Wednesdays-Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through March 26. $20-$32. Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma (at Sixth St.), 776-1747.

Beach Blanket Babylon: Steve Silver's musical revue spoofs pop culture with extravagant costumes. Wednesdays-Sundays. $25-$130. 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. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100.

The Business: A Comedy Show: Wednesdays, 8 p.m. $5. Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987.

Hermes: Nude Men Productions stage Bennett Fisher's play about a group of derivative traders aiming to benefit from the Greek financial crisis. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through March 26. $5-$25. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.

The Homecoming: Play by Harold Pinter about a father and son competing for the affection of the son's wife. Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through March 27. $7.50-$83. American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), 749-2228.

Three Plays by Will Eno: Cutting Ball Theater stages three short plays by Will Eno: Lady Grey, Intermission, and Mr. Theatre Comes Home Different. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through April 10. $15-$50. Exit Theatre on Taylor, 277 Taylor (at Ellis), 673-3847.

Loveland: Solo show by Ann Randolph. Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through March 26. $20-$100. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.

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 for a lineup of future shows. Mondays. $7. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.

Obscura: A Magic Show: Christian Cagigal's one-person narrative involving magic and audience participation. Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through April 16. $15-$25. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.

The Oldest Profession: Paula Vogel's play about five women in their 70s. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.; Sat., April 9, 3 p.m. Continues through April 3. $10-$25. Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St. (at York), 641-7657.

Pearls over Shanghai: Thrillpeddlers brings back the Cockettes. Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through April 9. $30. The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), 377-4202.

Regrets Only: The complications of modern life and marriage in Manhattan. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through April 3. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972.

Secret Improv Society: Underground improvisational theater. Saturdays, 10 p.m. $15. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100.

Shopping! The Musical: Songs and sketches about shopping. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. $23-$29. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100.

Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding: Saturdays, 7 p.m.; Fridays, 7 p.m. $88.50-$115.50. Swiss Louis Restaurant at Pier 39, 2 Beach (at Embarcadero), 421-2913.

Upper Cut Improv Showcase: Improv and sketch comedy. Fridays, 7 p.m. $5. San Francisco Comedy College, 414 Mason (at Geary), 921-2051.

Wirehead: New play by Benjamin/Brown. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Continues through April 23. $40-$50. SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596.

About The Author

Hiya Swanhuyser

About The Author

Benjamin Wachs

About The Author

Chris Jensen

About The Author

Keith Bowers


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