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Our critics weigh in on local theater

Wednesday, Jun 10 2009
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Fukú Americanus. After finding great success bringing Dave Eggers' novel You Shall Know Our Velocity to the stage (Sacrament, 2004), the Mission's Campo Santo is tackling Junot Díaz' Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. It's a wildly ambitious task given that the novel covers three generations of a Dominican family emigrating to New Jersey, a good dose of Dominican history, a family curse (fukú), and overflows with references to '80s nerd pop culture. Much like the book, the first section of this adaptation, which introduces the overweight "ghetto nerd" Oscar (Brian Rivera), is a bit overwhelming in style and language. The English and Spanish dialogue is rapid-fire, with actors jumping around and shouting over each other. By the second section — when Oscar's punky sister, Lola (Vanessa Cota), and his mother (Maria Candelaria) and grandmother (Anna Maria Luera) are introduced — character and plot ground themselves and the audience can better appreciate Díaz' acrobatic language. The cast is rock solid; the highlight is Carlos Aguirre, who not only skillfully plays multiple roles but also beatboxes a live soundtrack over this whirling dervish of a play. This production is funny, energetic, and in-your-face; the exact qualities that make the book so original and wondrous. Through June 21 at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th St.), S.F. $15-$25; 626-2787 ext. 109 or www.theintersection.org. (Nathaniel Eaton) Reviewed May 27.

2009 Rhino Benefit Spectacular!: Starring Leanne Borghesi, Laurie Bushman, Mike Finn, Scott Gessford, David Goodwin, and many others. Sun., June 14, 7 p.m. Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 861-5079, www.therhino.org.

At Home at the Zoo: Edward Albee's drama, directed by Rebecca Taichman. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Continues through July 5. American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), 749-2228, www.act-sfbay.org.

The Barber of Seville: Pocket Opera's production of Gioachino Rossini's piece. Sun., June 14, 2 p.m. Legion of Honor, 100 34th Ave. (at Clement), 863-3330, www.thinker.org.

BATS: Sunday Players: Each week Bay Area Theatresports players pit their improv work against all comers as the audience votes them off one by one until the winner stands alone on the stage. Sundays, 7 p.m., $5-$8, www.improv.org. Bayfront Theater, 16 Marina (at Laguna), 474-6776, www.improv.org/shows/bayfront.htm.

Beach Blanket Babylon: A North Beach perennial featuring crazy hats, media personality caricatures, a splash of romance, and little substance. Now with Rod Blagojevich! Wednesdays, Thursdays, 8 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 6:30 & 9:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 5 p.m., $25-$80, www.beachblanketbabylon.com. 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, www.sheltontheater.com.

Brain-Dead Alive: Through June 27, 8 p.m., $20, www.primitivescrewheads.com. Great Star Theater, 630 Jackson (at Kearny).

Captain Stormfield's Report from Heaven: The afterlife according to Mark Twain, with dinner starting at 6 p.m. on Fridays and 5 p.m. on Sundays. Fridays, 7 p.m.; Sundays, 5:30 p.m. Continues through June 28, www.thepeoplestheatre.com. Pena Pachamama, 1630 Powell, (415) 646-0018, penapachamama.com.

Circus Finelli: Slavic slapstick cabaret. Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through June 21. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 730-3433, www.stagewerx.org.

Dead Man's Cell Phone: Sarah Ruhl's comedy about technology. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Continues through June 13. SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596, www.sfplayhouse.org.

Driven: A staged reading of Patricia Milton's drama, directed by Caroline Altman. Tue., June 16, 7:30 p.m. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 730-3433, www.stagewerx.org.

East 14th Street: Don Reed's solo show about growing up in Oakland. Fridays-Sundays. Continues through June 14. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750, www.themarsh.org.

Eccentrics of San Francisco's Barbary Coast ... A Magical Escapade: Historical magic show with Walt Anthony, David Miller, Brian Scott, and Ruth Fraser. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 27, $30, www.sanfranciscomagicparlor.com. Chancellor Hotel, 433 Powell (at Post), 362-2004, www.chancellorhotel.com.

Eighth Annual Bloomsday Celebration: Actors Robert Ayres, Bruce Bierman, Renee Gibbons, Oonagh Kavanagh, Laura Sheppard, and Maurice Wren present dramatic readings from Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Dubliners. Tue., June 16, 6:30 p.m. Mechanics' Institute Library, 57 Post (at Market), 393-0101, www.milibrary.org.

FURYfactory 2009: Festival of works from nationwide ensembles. Through June 27, www.foolsfury.org. Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida (at Mariposa), 292-1233, www.atjt.com.

The Golden Girls: The Gay Episodes: With Heklina, Pollo Del Mar, Matthew Martin, Cookie Dough, Mike Finn, and Laurie Bushman. Thu., June 11, 7 & 9 p.m.; Fri., June 12, 7 & 9 p.m.; Sat., June 13, 5, 7 & 9 p.m.; Sun., June 14, 3 & 5 p.m.; Thu., June 18, 7 & 9 p.m.; Fri., June 19, 7 & 9 p.m.; Sat., June 20, 5, 7 & 9 p.m.; Sun., June 21, 3 & 5 p.m.; Thu., June 25, 7 & 9 p.m.; Fri., June 26, 7 & 9 p.m., www.heklina.com. Mama Calizo's Voice Factory, 1519 Mission (at Van Ness), 690-9410, www.voicefactorysf.org.

Jericho Road Improvement Association: Hella Fresh Theatre's production about an Oakland police officer. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through June 27, www.hellafreshtheatre.com. Phoenix Arts Association Theatre, 414 Mason (at Geary), Suite 601, 989-0023, www.phoenixtheatresf.org.

KML Hits Highway 101: The comedy troupe goes on the road with the Schacter family. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through June 14. Zeum Theater, 221 Fourth St. (at Howard), 820-3320, www.zeum.org/visitor/zeumTheater.html.

Krapp's Last Tape: Cutting Ball Theater's production of Samuel Beckett's drama. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through June 21. Exit Theatre on Taylor, 277 Taylor (at Ellis), 931-3847, www.sffringe.org.

The Land of Infants: Megan O'Patry's drama about grave diggers and a mob boss. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through June 27. El Teatro de la Esperanza, 2940 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 338-1341.

Lettuce Town Lies: Kenny Yun comes of age in Salinas. Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through June 27. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750, www.themarsh.org.

Love Humiliation & Karaoke: Enzo Lombard's play about losing everything, directed by W. Kamau Bell. Thursdays. Continues through June 25. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 730-3433, www.stagewerx.org.

Mauritius: Theresa Rebeck's play about a dead mother's inheritance. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through June 28. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina & Buchanan, 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org.

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

Monty Python's Spamalot: Based on the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through July 5. Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor (at Market), 551-2000.

Mr. Marmalade: Noah Haidle's comedy about a young girl, produced by Custom Made Theatre Co. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through June 13. The Custom Stage, 965 Mission (at Sixth St.), 626-2060‚ www.custommade.org.

My Life on the Craigslist: Jeffery Self's tale of "Men 4 Men." June 10-27. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org.

Not a Genuine Black Man: Brian Copeland's long-running drama about San Leandro. Through July 12. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 820-1656, www.cafearts.com.

Now and at the Hour: Christian Cagigal's magic show. Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through Aug. 15. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 931-3847, www.theexit.org.

Pearls Over Shanghai: Through Aug. 16, $30. The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), 377-4202, www.thrillpeddlers.com.

Point Break Live!: Bank-robbing surfers make audiences happy. Through June 30, 9 p.m., $25, www.myspace.com/pointbreaklive. CELLspace, 2050 Bryant (at 18th St.), 648-7562, www.cellspace.org.

Porgy and Bess: The story of the beggar and the woman he loves, directed by Francesca Zambello. Through June 27. War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness (at Grove), 864-3330, www.sfwmpac.org.

Shopping! The Musical: Songs and sketches about shopping. Daily, $23-$29, www.shoppingthemusical.com. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100, www.sheltontheater.com.

ShortLived 2.0: Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 27, $15-$20, www.pianofight.com. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 820-1656, www.cafearts.com.

So Many Ways to Kill a Man: The story of Aeschylus' Agamemnon, as told by Ragged Wing Ensemble. June 16-17, 8 p.m. Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa (at Florida), 621-7978, www.theatreofyugen.org.

Soliloquy for Two: Short plays by Ron Coulter; ventriloquist Ron Coulter. June 12-13, 8 p.m. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 931-3847, www.theexit.org.

Some Men: Playwright Terrence McNally marches through queer history. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through July 12. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org.

Sultry Summer Magic: Teatro ZinZanni's new show features a rotating crew of headliners during the run, including Melanie Stace, Edna Wright and Honey Cone, Melba Moore, Sally Kellerman, and Darlene Love. Wednesdays-Sundays, $117-$200, 438-2668. Teatro ZinZanni, Piers 27 and 29 (Embarcadero & Battery), www.zinzanni.org.

Three on a Party: Word for Word's production of works by Tennessee Williams, Gertrude Stein, and Armistead Maupin. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through June 21. Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 861-5079, www.therhino.org.

Wicked: The Tony Award–winning musical. Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through June 27. Orpheum Theater, 1192 Market (at Eighth St.), 551-2000.

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