Through June 17 at Theater Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), S.F. Admission is $12-22; call 861-5079.
Spirituality for Dummies
In this evening of two short solo shows, Dan Rothenberg opens by charting his uneasy relationship with his bisexuality in "Anything But the Truth," personifying Truth as a lifelong companion whom he attempts, but ultimately fails, to ignore. Rothenberg is both amusing and astute describing his discomfort with the labels we attach to sexuality: "If you shop at the Gap you're gay; Banana Republic, you're bi." He hammers the sanitizing of the word "gay" ("A 'gay' man is a man who has the ability to pick out curtains"), and points out the general unacceptance of the messy realities of sex. And describing growing up in a suburb of Detroit, he draws a creatively apt metaphor between his town's repudiation of the city and its problems and his own denial of his sexual proclivities. Rothenberg could stand to vary the voice of Truth more, but his discovery that love and heartbreak defy labels is both comic and moving.
Joe Klocek's often wildly funny monologue, titled "Callback," succeeds less well. Despite his better intentions, Klocek recounts how as a comedian he quickly succumbed to the easy laughs garnered by dick jokes and "men and women are so different" banalities, the demands of the road and backwater venues forcing him to abandon more challenging material about being adopted and about religion. (When his priest used exactly the same words to explain the Immaculate Conception as his mother used to explain his adoption, he informed his first-grade classmates that he was a messiah.) Klocek has some howlers about wounding Butte, Montana's pride over its toxic waste dump, and taking on skinheads in Coeur d'Alene. However, his attempts to get at something truer through a theatrical construct don't really work. Redneck jokes, no matter how skillfully or truthfully told, aren't much deeper than dick jokes, and his routines about adoption and religion reveal his skill as a comic, but not much else. Klocek's journey, humorous as it is, doesn't take you far enough.
Extended through June 17 at the Bannam Place Theater, 50A Bannam Place (between Union and Green), S.F. Admission is $12-15; call 986-4607.