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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High voltage Cirque du Soleil

The circus is in town! Hurrah! Last week the Cirque du Soleil set up its big top tent for its latest gloriously glitzy, jaw-dropping production, Volta. Presenting, as always, a ferociously paced but immensely enjoyable show, the company has changed since its first shuddery start in Canada in 1984. I saw the original US 1987 show at the Los Angeles Art Festival, the run that would vault the company into international success, and although the amount of shiny costumes has multiplied...

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Facing the music of our lives

The Center Repertory Company presents Mark St. Germain’s comedy, Dancing Lessons, through November 17 at the Margaret Lesher Theater in Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts. The play premiered in Massachusetts in 2014. The 90-minute romantic comedy tells the story of two people who are intensely challenged by their lives and how they struggle to overcome the isolation of those lives by interacting with each other. Senga (Sharon Rietkerk) is a dancer who has had an accident,...

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A crisp and fresh “Women Laughing Alone with Salad”

Three women – one thin, one voluptuous, one middle-aged – are sitting on a park bench, eating enormous bowls of salad. Soon they are taken with giggles, then howls of laughter. Hmmm. How fun is it to eat salad? Shotgun Players’ production of Women Laughing Alone with Salad zeros in on this question. And the answers are engaging, hilarious and very familiar. [caption id="attachment_2089" align="aligncenter" width="720"]...

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The mind is a voice-over in “Fairview”

Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Fairview opened at Berkeley Rep this past week. A co-commission of Berkeley Rep and Soho Rep, the play was developed in Berkeley Reps’ The Ground Floor program and premiered at Soho Rep in New York this past June. The play pulls out a number of theatrical forms and practices but melds them into a madcap and very illuminating look at black-and-white relations in this, the United States of America. Part of the difficulty of overturning the biased and dismal...

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