Best Offbeat Theater - 2005
Exit Theatre has been a sanctuary for small-scale, big-attitude San Francisco stagecraft since 1983. Home to the theatrical free-for-all of the S.F. Fringe Festival, the theater (and the auxiliary Exit Stage Left a couple of blocks away) hosts a number of small companies and individual artists. This veritable fun house branches off into several performance areas, giving you the impression of drifting through an amusement park attraction with multiple spectacles simultaneously playing out. Here you can see everything from a musical farce on the life of Salvador Dali to a claustrophobic rendition of Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit to a one-woman S/M bedtime story. Some of the main theater's spaces contain tall chairs and bars that proffer the ambience of a 19th-century saloon, complemented by the fact that you can drink and nibble on snacks as you're entertained -- a strict no-no at more high-toned establishments. Sets range from dramatic to Spartan, but you can always count on an erudite, sassy performance.