More Theater Reviews

Our critics weigh in on local theater.

Reborning. It seems wrong to describe a play that hinges on trauma, suffering, and creepily realistic infant dolls as hilarious, but Reborning is just that. At times sitcom-y, at others heavily symbolic, Reborning bandies between levity and loss without missing a beat. Reborning-the-hobby is an art form that involves creating realistic replicas of babies for collectors. In Reborning-the-play, latex artist Kelly (Lauren English) creates babies to help people cope with the loss of their children, a practice that is rare in the real world, according to the bright-blue disclaimer that comes with the program. Portraying a young woman coming to grips with being abandoned at birth in truly horrific circumstances, English captures the quiet heaviness of Kelly's past with remarkable aptness and a barely concealed nervous energy. Daizy (Alexander Alioto) shines as her somewhat clueless yet well-intentioned dildo-making boyfriend, and Emily (Lorri Holt), Kelly's latest client, rounds out the small, exemplary cast with the marvelously addled air of a businesswoman in retreat from reality. Directed with just the right balance of rawness and finesse by Zayd Dohrn, Reborning proves that grim topics and taboos can also be damn funny. References to Sigmund Freud abound, proving that you can, in fact, say one thing but mean a mother. Through June 11 at SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), S.F. $30-$50; 677-9596 or www.sfplayhouse.org. (Anna Pulley) Reviewed May 25.

Vice Palace. Combine Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" with Fellini's La Dolce Vita, persuade most of your actors to show off their peens, then stage the whole thing as a '30s musical revue. You might end up with something like Vice Palace, but you'll be lucky if your version is anywhere near as much fun to watch. Thrillpeddlers' latest revival of a musical by the Cockettes — the ragtag band of gender-fucking misfits who enjoyed a brief heyday in San Francisco from 1969 to 1972 — isn't quite as solid as Pearls Over Shanghai, the company's long-running foray into psychedelic burlesque. But it's still a good-natured evening of minimally polished, unapologetically trashy entertainment. (If you're uncomfortable with the prospect of seeing a naked dude pull decorative ribbon out of his ass, then you might want to choose another show.) Vice Palace was the last musical performed by the Cockettes before the troupe disbanded, and some of the numbers demonstrate a cleverness, even a compositional maturity, that wouldn't have been out of place when Cole Porter and Jerome Kern ruled Broadway. Of course, Cole Porter never wrote a song called "A Crab on Uranus." Oh, well — his loss, I guess. Through July 31 at the Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), S.F. $30-$35; www.thrillpeddlers.com. (Chris Jensen) Reviewed May 11.

All Atheists Are Muslim: Written and performed by Zahra Noorbakhsh. Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues through July 10. $20. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 730-3433.

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All I Wanted to Say: New theater by Silvia Girardi. Through June 8, 7:30 p.m. $15. Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa (at Florida), 621-7978.

Assassins: Stephen Sondheim's musical. Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through June 25. $20-$36. Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson (at Front), 788-7469.

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. www.bigcityimprov.com. 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.

Caliente: Teatro ZinZanni production starring El Vez. A sister and brother lead a rebellion in an attempt to live out their dreams in show business. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays; Through June 19. $91-$186. Teatro ZinZanni, Piers 27 and 29 (Embarcadero and Battery), 438-2668.

The Edenites: No Nude Men Productions stages a play about San Francisco by Stuart Bousel. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through June 25. $12-$25. Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.

"Free Fridays! Improv Show": Late-night improv show. Fridays, 10:30 p.m. Continues through June 24. free. Alcove Theater, 414 Mason (at Derby).

Geezer: Geoff Hoyle's solo performance about what it's like to grow old. Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through July 10. $20-$50. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.

Hotshot: Terrence Beswick's story about two men and their struggle to cope with meth addiction. Benefit for the Castro Country Club. June 9-11. $30. Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987.

Juno en Victoria: A tragicomedy involving wealthy Victorian women and Greek gods and goddesses. Starting June 9. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through July 2. $24. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 730-3433.

Love Letters: Eva Marie Saint and Jeffrey Hayden star in a play about love letters. Starting June 11. Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through June 12. $40. The Rrazz Room, at the Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason (at Ellis), 394-1189.

Monday Night Marsh: Musicians, actors, performance artists, and others take the stage at this regular works-in-progress. Mondays. $7. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.

Much Ado About Lebowski: The Shakespeare adaptation of The Big Lebowski. Fridays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 30. $30-$25. CELLspace, 2050 Bryant (at 18th St.), 648-7562.

Nobody Move: New play based on Denis Johnson's latest book. Thursdays are pay-what-you-can. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Continues through June 12. $20-$35. Intersection for the Arts, 925 Mission (at Fifth St.), 626-2787.

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