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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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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