Measuring the mettle of men in Marin

It’s rare to see Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure presented as a laugh-out-loud comedy. But Director Robert Currier of Marin Shakespeare Company has done just that, turning this dark and complex drama into a commentary on today’s charged issues of sexual misbehavior and the inequities of the prison system. Currier and his cast deftly handled the darkness with a light and comic touch. The result was a delight. The play spends equal time on both mores and injustice. Originally...

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Rampaging rhinos at A.C.T.

It’s not necessary to decode Ionesco’s 1959 play, Rhinoceros, the playwright himself thoroughly explained its meaning. Hearkening back to his youth in Romania, he informed the public via interview of his university life, when one by one his colleagues abandoned their opposition to fascism and became part of the Iron Guard, the ultra nationalist, anti-Semitic paramilitary group founded in 1927 that rose to power in Romania at the beginning of World War II. Ionesco’s meaning is...

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Victorian Ladies detected at Central Works

With a painting of Diana the huntress over the mantel that houses their two separate collections of books and a porcelain statue of a long-haired hound, the sisters Loveday and Valeria live a genteel and irritable life together as Victorian ladies. Both have wandered slightly (and not so slightly) off the path of respectability, and they are about turn that wandering into a gallop. When the bodies of young actresses begin to turn up in the streets surrounding their lodging house for young...

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A deft and charming “Vanity Fair”

As the top-hatted Manager assures us from the stage setting of Vanity Fair: there are no morals here. But that’s a good thing, for as most of us have discovered, morals are not a lot of fun. And if there is one thing the A.C.T. production of Thackeray’s classic satire is, it’s fun. Delightfully, wackily, preposterously fun. Much more so than the darker, more biting original. The humor starts with the playwright’s witty handling of the book. The original was set in...

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Quote Unquote Collective’s “Mouthpiece”

This past weekend, Cal Performances presented Mouthpiece, a 65-minute performance piece developed by Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava of the Toronto–based theater group Quote Unquote Collective. Mouthpiece won the Stage Award for Performance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017, and the Berkeley performance was the last stage presentation of the piece, which took three years to develop. Mouthpiece has gone on to other manifestations, as a book by Canadian...

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The comedy of inappropriate misappropriation

“Is there a special place in hell for people who appropriate their own culture?” So asks Raj in Dipika Guha’s The Yoga Play, which recently opened at San Francisco Playhouse. The line gets a laugh, as did many lines in this hilarious look at how and why Americans misappropriate other cultures in our voracious curiosity to inhabit the world in all its wild and beautiful diversity. The play opens with Joan (Susi Damilano) talking out at the audience while behind her is the...

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