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Our critics weigh in on local theater

Wednesday, Jul 15 2009

Jack Goes Boating. It takes a while for this romantic comedy to fully draw you into its oddball world of reggae music, hookah smoking, and swimming lessons, yet from the start there is something sweet and lovely about the budding relationship between Jack and Connie that keeps you wanting to find out more. Touchingly played by Danny Wolohan and Beth Wilmurt, Jack and Connie have an open honesty with each other that more than makes up for the mediocre, halting lives they've led so far. Wilmurt in particular is wonderful at bringing out Connie's idiosyncrasies, from her surprisingly frank discussions about her sexual needs to her delight at the thought of a meal made just for her. Playwright Bob Glaudini brings these two awkward lovers together with the help of their married friends, Clyde and Lucy, who barely have a handle on their own struggles. The parries among all four are sometimes funny, sometimes bittersweet, and often skirt the edge of the ridiculous. But even in the moments when everything seems to be falling apart, Glaudini and the cast bring out the beauty and the grace in people who are looking to make something of their lives with the people they love. Through July 19 at Aurora Theatre Company, 2081 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley. $40-$42; 510-843-4822 or (Molly Rhodes) Reviewed July 8.

Now and at the Hour. Calling it just a "magic show" doesn't seem quite right. Christian Cagigal's Now and at the Hour is part sleight of hand, part personal revelation, and part straight-up creepiness. Some magicians look and behave as if they belong on used-car lots, but not Cagigal — he's rumpled and affable, and it's a pleasure to let him snow you. At a recent performance, he chose me to participate in his first trick, a mind-reading exercise in which he seemed to pluck a fairly random and startlingly specific memory from my brain. I don't know how he managed to do it, but the appearance of occult powers was strong enough to leave me feeling unsettled and slightly violated for the rest of the evening. Between each bit of magic, he tells stories of growing up with his father, a Vietnam vet who suffered from schizophrenia; by show's end, you get the sense that learning the art of illusion was young Cagigal's way of exerting power over a messy reality. Magic is a lonely discipline, full of secrets — but here, at least, is a performer who managed to put all of his childhood loneliness to thrilling use. Through Aug. 15 at EXIT Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), S.F. $15-$25; 673-3847 or (Chris Jensen) Reviewed July 8.

BATS: Sunday Players: Each week Bay Area Theatresports players pit their improv work against all comers as the audience votes them off one by one until the winner stands alone on the stage. Sundays, 7 p.m., $5-$8, Bayfront Theater, 16 Marina (at Laguna), 474-6776,

Bay Area Playwrights Festival 2009: The Playwrights Foundation produces five new plays. July 17-26, Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D (Marina & Buchanan), 441-8822,

Beach Blanket Babylon: A North Beach perennial featuring crazy hats, media personality caricatures, a splash of romance, and little substance. Now with Rod Blagojevich! Wednesdays, Thursdays, 8 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 6:30 & 9:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 5 p.m., $25-$80, Club Fugazi, 678 Green (at Powell), 421-4222.

Betrayal: Keith Phillips directs Harold Pinter's play. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through July 18. Actors Theatre San Francisco, 855 Bush (at Taylor), 345-1287,

Big City Improv: Actors take audience suggestions and create comedy from nothing. Fridays, 10 p.m., $15-$20, Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100,

James Judd's Whoop Click!: A mix of comedy, theater, and variety show, with rotating guests every week. Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Aug. 22, $20. Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987,

Carmen: Pocket Opera presents the classic. Sat., July 18; Sun., July 19. Legion of Honor, 100 34th Ave. (at Clement), 863-3330,

Lettucetown Lies: Kenny Yun comes of age in Salinas. Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through July 25. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750,

Maidrid's Bow: An Amazon Tale: Morgan Ludlow's comedy inspired by Proposition 8. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Aug. 8. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 730-3433,

Monday Night Marsh: On select Mondays a different lineup of musicians, actors, performance artists, and others takes the stage at this regular event that's hosted local celebs like Josh Kornbluth and Marga Gomez in the past; see for a lineup of future shows. Mondays, $7. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750,

Only the Truth Is Funny: Rick Reynolds' one-man show. Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through Aug. 30. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750,

PastForward: The 25th Anniversary Performance Series: Through July 18, 8 p.m., $8. The Lab, 2948 16th St. (at Capp), 864-8855,

Pearls Over Shanghai: Thrillpeddlers brings back the Cockettes. Through Aug. 16, $30. The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), 377-4202,

Philosophy Talk: Live at the Marsh: Sun., July 19, 12 & 3 p.m., $20-$35. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750,

Putting It Together: A revue of Stephen Sondheim's musicals. Wednesdays-Saturdays. Continues through Aug. 8. The Custom Stage, 965 Mission (at Sixth St.),

Rent Boy Ave.: A Fairy's Tale: Nick Olivero retells Hansel and Gretel in an urban rock fairy tale. Starting July 16, Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Aug. 9. Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma (at Sixth St.), 776-1747,

Shopping! The Musical: Songs and sketches about shopping. Fridays, Saturdays, $23-$29, Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100,

Songs to Make You Gay: Connie Champagne onstage. Go ahead, give it a shot. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Aug. 1. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972,

Sultry Summer Magic: Teatro ZinZanni's new show features a rotating crew of headliners during the run, including Melanie Stace, Edna Wright and Honey Cone, Melba Moore, Sally Kellerman, and Darlene Love. Wednesdays-Sundays, $117-$200, 438-2668. Teatro ZinZanni, Piers 27 and 29 (Embarcadero & Battery),

Unexpected Man: Yasmina Reza's drama about a novelist on a train. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through July 25, Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 931-3847,

View from the Bridge: Arthur Miller's drama, directed by Peter Tripp. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Aug. 22, The Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Post), 989-0023,

Wicked: Meet the witches of Oz. Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Sept. 27. Orpheum Theater, 1192 Market (at Eighth St.), 551-2000.

Zany and the Surreal: Work by physical theatre artists John Gilkey, Leonard Pitt, and James Donlon. July 18-19. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 931-3847,

About The Authors

Chris Jensen


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