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Around San Francisco

The How and the Why at Aurora: A Densely Packed Exploration of Ideas and Emotions

Leo Stutzin | Posted 03.29.2016 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Nancy Carlin as a confident professor, right, and Martha Brigham as a nervous graduate student: a toast in academia Photos by David Allen Playwright...

Realistic Joneses at ACT: Beneath a Quirky Comedy, Deep Fears of Mortality

Leo Stutzin | Posted 03.19.2016 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Words don't come easily to the four personalities who populate Will Eno's The Realistic Joneses. And when they do come, very often those words communicate the failure of communication itself.

Macbeth at Berkeley Rep: Visually Stunning but Short on Dramatic Interplay and Impact

Leo Stutzin | Posted 03.02.2016 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Conleth Hill as Macbeth, Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare's classic tale Photos by Kevin Berne Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow ...

Little Erik in Berkeley: A Skeletal, Flawed Adaptation of a Domestic Drama by Ibsen

Leo Stutzin | Posted 02.06.2016 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Mark Jackson is recognized as one of the Bay Area's most adventurous and successful playwrights, but the pursuit of fresh challenges always carries an element of risk. Climbers sometimes slip. With Little Erik, his adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's rarely produced domestic drama Little Eyolf, Jackson slips badly.

Disgraced at Berkeley Rep: A Dramatic Triumph, Confronting Issues That Our Times Can't Avoid

Leo Stutzin | Posted 11.17.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Could any work of dramatic art be more timely, more provocative, more ripe for debate right now than Ayad Akhtar's Disgraced, which is receiving a sterling production at Berkeley Rep? That would be hard to imagine.

Monster-Builder at Aurora: Hilarity and Bizarre Twists in the World of Architecture

Leo Stutzin | Posted 11.16.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

One thing can be said with certainty about Aurora Theatre's production of Amy Freed's The Monster-Builder: It's hilarious. Big laughs start early and continue through to the play's bizarre climax.

Ah, Wilderness! at ACT: Lovely Look, Uneven Acting for O'Neill's Domestic Comedy

Leo Stutzin | Posted 10.27.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Eugene O'Neill is widely regarded as the playwright who lifted American theater out of the era of melodrama and into a realm of truthfulness and invention that was comparable with the best on the world's stages.

Amélie at Berkeley Rep: A Spirited Musical Adaptation of the Beloved French Film

Leo Stutzin | Posted 09.14.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

I would be remiss to say that the show's leads, its stagecraft and its tunefulness make it worth a look. The Amélie you see next week probably won't be a carbon copy of the one I saw a few days ago.

Between Riverside and Crazy: ACT Opens 49th Season With a Tough, Humane Pulitzer Prize Drama

Leo Stutzin | Posted 09.13.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

The past weighs heavily on Walter "Pops" Washington, the angry, suspicious ex-cop whose rage and stubbornness propel the fierce Between Riverside and Crazy, which opened American Conservatory Theater's 49th season a few days ago.

Mud Blue Sky at Aurora: High-Flying Comedy, Delivered With Compassion

Leo Stutzin | Posted 09.07.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Wegryzn understands people and she understands theatrical dynamics, and crafted those understandings into a 95-minute delight.

Detroit in Berkeley: A Giddy Treatment of an American Nightmare

Leo Stutzin | Posted 06.28.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

It's a Saturday Night Live skit extended to some 90 minutes, delivered with over-the-top goofiness that keeps an audience roaring and leaves any serious concerns outside the theater door.

ACT Inaugurates Remodeled Strand With Intriguing Love and Information

Leo Stutzin | Posted 06.23.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

American Conservatory Theater's new space on Market Street was named the Jewel when it opened as a movie house in 1917. In its current and extensively remodeled incarnation, which made its official debut last week with Caryl Churchill's engrossing and enigmatic Love and Information, the facility lives up to its original name.

Fifth of July at Aurora: Nostalgia, Laughs and Agony in a Decade of Disillusionment

Leo Stutzin | Posted 06.25.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Playwright Wilson's treatment of the psychological trauma faced by many veterans was one of the first theatrical explorations of the topic. And his treatment of the relationship between Ken and his lover was not only rare, but so controversial that many early reviewers could not even mention it.

Fierce Trials of Family and Faith in Berkeley Rep's Stunning Head of Passes

Leo Stutzin | Posted 06.20.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

After a short while, it turns into a deluge that pours through the roof in volumes that buckets can't contain; and finally, as lights flicker and thunder roars, it brings down the house. Literally. The roof crashes, floors and walls tilt, and flood waters rise. On Berkeley Rep's Thrust Stage.

Let There Be Love at ACT: Terrific Acting Buoys a Poignant Family Drama

Leo Stutzin | Posted 06.17.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

All those elements add up to a huge order, but ACT is serving it with compelling passion and humor, thanks in large part to an extraordinary performance by Carl Lumbly.

Talley's Folly at Aurora: A Radiant Staging of a Small Theatrical Gem

Leo Stutzin | Posted 06.13.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Lanford Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Talley's Folly is small, involving only one 40-ish man, one 30-ish woman and some 90 minutes of interplay between them. Their personal chemistry, along with the external realms that that the play explores, are things of theatrical beauty.

Tartuffe in Berkeley: Dark Undercurrents Dominate Moliere's Timeless Assault On Fraudulent Piety

Leo Stutzin | Posted 05.22.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Every successful satire has teeth, though most often they're employed lightly, nipping at common foibles and quirks of character. Moliere's Tartuffe, in the hands of Berkeley Rep, has fangs, fiercely tearing into greed and cruelty.

Mr. Burns at ACT: Hilarity Begins With Apocalyptic Events

Leo Stutzin | Posted 04.29.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Being reasonably familiar with the TV series will certainly let a viewer pick up nuances that went over my head, and I'm sure over many others, but you don't have to be a Simpsons addict to appreciate the delights of Mr. Burns. It sizzles.

Football's Joys and Agonies Get a Thorough Dissection in Berkeley Rep's Dramatic X's and O's

Leo Stutzin | Posted 03.28.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

The course of ardent love needs to involve pain, and sometimes even agony or tragedy, doesn't it? That's the formula in theater, if not always in life.

Stoppard's Indian Ink Returns to ACT, Visually Gorgeous but Dramatically Uneven

Leo Stutzin | Posted 03.27.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

No one should be surprised when any theatrical canvas painted by Tom Stoppard is enormous: In Indian Ink, he outdid himself, perhaps too ambitiously.

Kathleen Turner as a Red Hot Patriot: Turning Anger Into Wit

Leo Stutzin | Posted 01.28.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Turner as Ivins: exuberance, laughter and crusading journalism Photos by kevinberne.com Molly Ivins lives! Seven years after her death, the fiercel...

Physical Magic Under the Big Top: Cirque du Soleil's Kurios in SF

Leo Stutzin | Posted 01.19.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Who could fault the creators of Cirque du Soleil's visual extravaganzas for dressing each new show in some fresh and exotic guise? Novelty, after all, is an essential part of entertainment.

Aurora's Breakfast With Mugabe: Exploring the Terrors of a Tyrant

Leo Stutzin | Posted 01.14.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

'Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.' The words are Shakespeare's, of course, voiced by Henry IV more than four centuries ago. They mirror the thoughts and fears of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe in the early 21st century, as depicted in Fraser Grace's Breakfast With Mugabe.

Riveting Performance Anchors ACT's Controversial 'Testament'

Leo Stutzin | Posted 01.08.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Seana McKenna as Mary: opening her arms to a challenging role Photos by Kevin Berne Canadian actress Seana McKenna is divine. The role she fills...

Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five: A Strong Opener for Custom Made

Leo Stutzin | Posted 11.22.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Vonnegut's literary time allows a reader to pause, to linger and perhaps to reflect. Narratives on the printed page permit and often encourage such interludes. But Eric Simonson's stage adaptation of the 1969 masterpiece allows no such digression.