Through July 24 at Bannam Place Theater, 50 Bannam, S.F. Admission is $8-15; call 831-8067.
-- Heather Wisner
Alice: Tales of a Curious Girl
At its best, Karen Hartman's take on Lewis Carroll's Alice explores the tension between a "grown-up" world in which Charles Dodgson's tales are a Freudian's wet dream -- a pedophile's symptomatic repression and transference -- and a child's world in which Wonderland conjures mysterious nonsense that makes a deeper sense. At the play's worst, feminist cant about Women's Lot creeps in. Still, director Tony Kelly creates both humor and genuine emotion, making good use of his actors. Maria Candelaria plays Alice sweetly and without condescension, capturing both fear and eagerness in growing up. Wilma Bonet and Da'Mon Vann, a pair of energetic pros, effortlessly switch among their various roles. They're hilarious as the Duchess and Cook who torture a baby with pepper and Tabasco, while Bonet's Queen of Hearts is a cross between Margaret Hamilton and Dr. Ruth. Richard Olmsted's set employs a checkerboard of pastel blues and greens and doors of varying size, and his lighting is evocative and whimsical. Gina Leishman's wonderful music and songs are simple and baroque, like ornately arranged lullabies played on a harpsichord. Despite the flaws in Hartman's script, Alice has theatrical magic.
Through July 11 at the New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom (at Ninth Street), S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 565-0331.
-- Joe Mader