By the “Sweat” of their brow

Lynn Nottage’s 2017 Pulitzer Prize winning play, Sweat, opened at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater this past week. The play focuses on workers at a steel mill whose work slowly erodes until finally they are without jobs, and according to Nottage, without identity, marginalized. It was clear the audience wanted to love this play, and it was well cast, well acted and well presented. It is notable that Nottage remarks in the program notes that the Washington D.C. audience received the play...

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An epic “War of the Roses”

The War of the Roses now showing in a four-hour production at Cal Shakes in Orinda is a distillation of four of Shakespeare’s English histories, Henry VI, parts 1, 2 and 3 and Richard III. Consolidating the plays has been done several times in their 400-year-plus theatrical history. This version, a collaboration between Cal Shakes Artist Director Eric Ting and the company’s dramaturg Philippa Kelly, is a company first. Eric Ting directed the production. The...

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To sing a song that old was sung … Marin Shakes presents “Pericles”

Marin Shakespeare Company opened its third and final play of the season at the Forest Meadows Theater in Marin this past weekend. The seldom-produced Pericles, Prince of Tyre, was one of the last plays Shakespeare wrote and there are questions about whether the play was entirely written by England’s greatest playwright. Scholars more or less agree that the last half of the play was written by Shakespeare, and the first half possibly by a collaborator. The first verified production...

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To read a Will or not: Marin Shakespeare’s “Shakespeare’s Will”

Shakespeare’s Will is the second play in Marin Shakespeare Company’s summer season. The 90-minute play explores the unusual marriage between William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway. The couple remained married throughout their lives, even though Shakespeare appears to have left Stratford some time after 1585 and the birth of his children; his plays appearing in London in 1592. He returned to Stratford in 1596 to buy a home, New Place, for his family, but the following year he was...

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Berkeley Rep and the flight of angels

In the closing scenes of Angels in America: Perestroika, Roy Cohn rages that he is “the heart of modern conservatism.” It’s a chilling observation. Cohn as a young prosecutor pushed, unethically, for the death of Ethel Rosenberg and was chief counsel of Joe McCarthy’s HUA team. As a character in Berkeley Rep’s seven-and-a-half-hour revival of Kushner’s award-winning play, he is portrayed as crass, manipulative and despicably unethical; in the real world, his imprint can be...

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Kitka stars in primal “Iron Shoes” at Ashby Stage

On a darkened stage spattered with stars, 15 courageous singers, dancers and actors taught us about the power of narrative. Kitka, America’s premiere Balkan women’s chorus, wove together three fairy tales with discordant drones, powerhouse harmonies and primal wails of sorrow to bespell a sold-out audience. Composed by 30-year Kitka veteran Janet Kutulas, this song cycle had depths made more accessible by the edgy story-telling and remarkably fluid movement. Kutulas brought together...

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