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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The 7 Fingers flights of desire

The acrobatic love duet between Émilie and Julien Silliau is punctuated with the snap of a fan and the crack of a whip in Reversible, the latest creation by Les 7 Doigts, which enchanted audiences this weekend at Cal Performances’ Zellerbach Hall. The sounds of whip and fan add rhythmic bite to the voice over of Ionesco’s absurdist play, The Bald Soprano. Like other productions by written, directed and choreographed by Gypsy Snider from her Montreal–based arts...

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The dark shores of Albee’s “Seascape”

It takes place on a beach, with scraggy grasses and a path winding up through the large, hilly dunes. The sand reflects back light, suggesting the open expanses along a vivid sea. Only above is not a blue dome of sky, but rather the black cavernous upper reaches of the stage, with bright white spots hung in regular patterns on the lighting grid. The effect is surreal and perfectly in keeping with Edward Albee’s 1975 Pulitzer Prize–winning play, Seascape. The production is the...

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“King of Yees” at SF Playhouse

Born in San Francisco Chinatown, unable to speak Chinese and a thoroughly American woman, playwright Lauren Yee has written an homage to her father and Chinese-American culture in King of the Yees, which opened at San Francisco Playhouse this past weekend.  The play is funny, insightful and touching. And it’s brilliantly produced, with inspired direction by Joshua Kahan Brody and non-stop, fast-paced acting by a team of five actors in multiple roles. Centered in an...

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Beauty’s subtle dance at Zellerbach Playhouse

Since the mid 20th century almost every art practice from the visual arts to performance has found the seductive powers of beauty troublesome. Too often it is accused of being the velvet glove for entrenched powers, a softening blow in league with oppression. So it is with some irony that Pavel Zustiak named his most recent performance piece, which premiered New York Live Arts in 2015, Custodians of Beauty. Cal Performances presented Custodians this past weekend at the...

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Finding true love at “Beach Blanket Babylon”

From the instant the band, dressed in all-black Blues Brothers shirts and fedoras, takes their place next to the stage at the Club Fugazi the long-lived and long-loved Beach Blanket Babylon is in full swing. The holiday show currently on-stage decks its halls with madcap satire and a chorus line of dancing Christmas trees adding merriment to anyone’s winter season. Though things are looking brighter, this year we need lots of cheer. The comic review, which began its bravura run in...

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