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Our critics weigh in on local theater

Wednesday, Nov 12 2008

Angry Black White Boy. Adapted by hip-hop theater artist Dan Wolf from Adam Mansbach's novel (the playwright and the novelist share a white, Jewish, hip-hop–loving heritage), this rap-, beat-, and move-infused world premiere follows the hilariously ill-fated trajectory of a privileged suburban teenager toward becoming "the downest whiteboy in history." When we first meet Macon Detornay, he's 14 and trying to hold his own in a Malcolm X T-shirt at a Boston hip-hop conference. By the time we're done with him, he's been to jail for robbing white passengers in the cab he drives part-time, become a national media celebrity, and presided over one of New York's messiest and most misguided race riots. Not bad for the son of a pair of "standard-issue white liberals." Wolf and his collaborators at Intersection for the Arts plumb issues of contemporary urban identity with humor, passion, and understanding. Led by director Sean San Jose, the extraordinary ensemble cast (Myers Clark, Keith Pinto, Tommy Shepherd, and Wolf, who plays Detornay) takes our senses and our preconceptions about selfhood hostage with a guerrilla narrative about one hip-hop–obsessed white teenager's revenge against white America. Through Nov. 16 at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th St.) S.F. Tickets are $15-$25; call 626-3311 or visit Veltman) Reviewed Nov. 5.

Blessed Unrest. CentralWorks' latest collaborative deals with the history and emotions of the environmental movement, as brought to the limelight by Paul Hawken's best-selling book of the same title. The seamlessness of the production – including sound design by Gregory Scharpen and video design by Terry Lamb – underscores the call for all of us to join the mysterious woman who shows up at an international capitalist's home and make the world a better place. However, this call to action is undermined by the framework of the story, which seems stodgily stuck in an old paradigm. The Scroogelike moments when this white businessman is shown the error of his ways are beautifully staged, yet let the audience off the hook. They allow us to already feel more enlightened than this man – who among us in the Bay Area comes with a fondness for unrepentant capitalists? – and fail to challenge us to look at ourselves and what we could and should do. For all the simple pleasures of the production, it falls short of inspiring a desire to actually do something different with our lives. Through Nov. 23 at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant (at Ellsworth), Berkeley. Tickets are $14-$25; call 510-558-1381 or visit (Molly Rhodes) Reviewed Nov. 5.

The Rocky Horror Show. The Rocky Horror Picture Show — released in 1975, dismissed by critics, and revived in the late '70s as a midnight movie — might be the most audience-dependent film ever made. If you've ever attempted to watch it at home, without the benefit of a rowdy crowd hurling rice and insults at the screen, you know that it's a weirdly unsatisfying experience. The movie feels like a stage production under glass, which is why filmgoers have always needed to step in and provide the vital energy that the film alone lacks. For that reason, a well-executed live production of Rocky Horror will be a revelation for fans of the movie, because a good live version places the energy squarely where it belongs — with the performers. In Ray of Light's joyously sleazy production at the Victoria Theatre, the near-perfect cast manages to pay tribute to the film while outpacing it in almost every way. The only problem is that some audience members aren't quite sure what to do, since the beautifully executed production numbers render audience participation more or less irrelevant. The whole thing is brilliant proof that Rocky Horror doesn't need a cult following to be a smash. Through Nov. 15 at the Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St. (at Mission), S.F. Tickets are $22-$35; visit (Chris Jensen) Reviewed Nov. 5.

100 Years of Queer Theatre: A rotating series of eight short plays produced by Eastenders Repertory Company explores the impact of gay and lesbian playwrights over the past century. Through Nov. 23. Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 861-5079.

Animal Kingdom: When the Queen of Animals decides to retire, a wild contest breaks out among candidates. Through Nov. 15. Boxcar Playhouse, 505 Natoma (at Sixth St.), 776-1747.

As Bees in Honey Drown: In this drama by Douglas Carter Beane, a young gay writer captures the eye of a mysterious woman in black. Through Dec. 21. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972.

Chess: An opera about the Cold War and chess, with music by members of ABBA. Nov. 14-22. SFSU Campus/Little Theater, 1600 Holloway (at 19th Ave.) (Creative Arts Bldg.), 338-2467.

Circus Finelli — A Slapstick Slavic Cabaret: Unruly women clowns dazzle with amazing feats, acrobatics, and dance. Through Nov. 16. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell).

Current Nobody: A take on Homer's Odyssey by Melissa James Gibson. Nov. 14-Dec. 13. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.

Delinquent: Keith Hennessy's piece unites dance and spoken word to comment on the criminal justice system. Nov. 13-15. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third St.), 978-2787.

Elixir of Love: Gaetano Donizetti's opera about love and innocence, set in Napa Valley circa 1915. Through Nov. 26. War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness (at Grove), 864-3330.

Evie's Waltz: When a boy is expelled for bringing a gun to high school, his parents find themselves confronting a nightmare in this drama by Carter W. Lewis. Through Dec. 7. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D Marina and Buchanan), 441-8822.

Forever Tango: Fourteen tango dancers perform to a live 11-piece orchestra accompanied by a vocalist. Through Nov. 16. Post Street Theatre, 450 Post (at Mason), 321-2900.

Friends: When a young man who lives alone suddenly finds himself hosting a family of eight, he has to keep his wits about him in this drama by Kobo Abe. Through Nov. 21. $10-$35. Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St. (at York), 647-2822.

Ghost Train Coming: A struggling sex worker is visited by the reincarnation of Elvis, in this gritty, surreal, and campy comedy by Charles Pike. Through Nov. 22. The Garage, 975 Howard (at Sixth St.), 289-2000.

Girl Crazy: George and Ira Gershwin's musical comedy, in which a New York sophisticate moves to a dude ranch. A 42nd Street Moon production. Through Nov. 16. Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson (at Front), 788-7469.

Joe Turner's Come and Gone: Tony Award–nominated actor Delroy Lindo directs August Wilson's African-American epic about a man traumatized by seven years on a chain gang. Through Dec. 14. Berkeley Repertory's Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley, 510-647-2949.

Last Yiddish Poet: Two irreverent comedians meet up with the mythical "last" Yiddish poet, in this drama by Corey Fischer, Albert Greenberg, and Naomi Newman. Through Dec. 14. Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida (at Mariposa), 522-0786.

Long Day's Journey into Night: Eugene O'Neill's play, directed by Susan Jackson. Nov. 13-22. Diego Rivera Theater/CCSF, 50 Phelan (at Judson), 239-3100.

The Monk: Based on a 1795 novel by Matthew Lewis, this is a gothic tale of a 17th-century Spanish friar led into dissolution by an impoverished nun and a dissolute aristocrat. Staged by No Nude Men Productions. Through Nov. 22. Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.

Rita Moreno: Actress Moreno performs songs and stage shorts. Through Nov. 23. The Rrazz Room at Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason (at Ellis), 866-468-3399.

No Parole: An autobiographical comedy by Carlo D'Amore. Starting Nov. 13. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Dec. 13. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.

Of Mice and Men: John Steinbeck's drama about California migrant field workers during the Great Depression, directed by Keith Phillips and Phaedra Starr. Through Nov. 29. Actors Theatre San Francisco, 855 Bush (at Taylor), 345-1287.

On the Rocks: A comedy by Dina Laura and Mina Radhakrishnan, directed by Craig Ricks. Nov. 13-16. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 896-6477.

Katie Rubin & Alicia Dattner: Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through Nov. 26. $10-$20. The Garage, 975 Howard (at Sixth St.), 289-2000.

Russian on the Side: In this one-man comedy cabaret, Mark Nadler performs musical classics from Stravinsky to Sondheim, dishing gossip on the composers. Through Nov. 16. Marines Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter (at Mason), 771-6900.

Shocktoberfest!! 2008: Elemental Horror: A collection of one-act plays in the style of Grand Guignol terror theater, pitting the players against ice, fire, electro-magnetism, and each other. Through Nov. 22. The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), 248-1900.

Tenaya Rocks! A Sexy Geological Cabaret: Tenaya Hurst is a geo-anthropactress — a comedic intersection of geologist, anthropologist, and actress. Through Nov. 15. $20. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell).

That Horrible In-Between Place: Two women caught at one of life's intersections discuss love, anger, loss, jealousy, and need, in this drama by Gabrielle Gomez. Through Nov. 22. El Teatro de la Esperanza, 2940 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 338-1341.

Towle's Hill: A drama by Mark Kenward that tells the story of Gundlach Bundschu, California's oldest family-owned-and-operated winery. Through Nov. 21. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.


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