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Our critics weigh in on local theater

Wednesday, May 5 2010

Andy Warhol: Good for the Jews? A great performer can be his own worst enemy if he looks in the mirror too much, and in his newest show, Andy Warhol: Good for the Jews?, Josh Kornbluth gets lost in reflection. While technically an examination of what Warhol's enigmatic "Ten Portraits of Jews" means, Kornbluth's monologue begins as a scattershot stand-up comedy routine ("Can you believe somebody paid me to do this? What's the deal?") and turns into an exercise in petty narcissism. Yes, his subject has always been himself (and his father), but what was profound in Love and Taxes is incestuous in Andy Warhol. For 90 minutes, Kornbluth can't get out of his own way: Every time he threatens to say something interesting about the world, he interrupts it to tell us more about himself. The show's final line actually concludes that whether or not Warhol was good for the Jews, he was good for Kornbluth, which really is the final word on everything for this production. Sure, it offers a few laughs and gasps — especially if you like bad puns — but this warmed-over therapy session leaves you wanting to change the subject. Through May 16 at the Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida (at Mariposa), S.F. $15-$45; 292-1233 or (Benjamin Wachs) Reviewed April 28.

John Gabriel Borkman. Be warned: The symmetry of the Bernie Madoff scandal, a selling point in Aurora's John Gabriel Borkman marketing push, is rather a red herring. Yes, the titular figure in Henrik Ibsen's 1896 play is a bank manager whose speculations with investors' money have propelled him to financial disaster and prison (followed by further solitary confinement in his own attic). But the real intention here, clarified in a recent translation by David Eldridge, is to examine a repressed and variously self-deluded Oslo family as it freezes to emotional death. Director Barbara Oliver's prim production is accordingly frosty — handsomely appointed, confidently carried, but ultimately more effective than affecting. While the embezzler (a commanding, credibly Nordic James Carpenter) broods on the misfortune of missed fortune, much fuss is made over the tarnishing of his family name. Borkman's wife (Karen Grassle) and her sister (Karen Lewis), former rivals for his love, carry on an emotional tug of war for the loyalty of his son (Aaron Wilton), who understandably just wants to get out from under it all. Be further warned: A happy ending is highly unlikely. Through May 9 at Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley. $34-$45; 510-843-4822 or (Jonathan Kiefer) Reviewed April 28.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee: Presented by Young People's Teen Musical Theatre. Through May 9. Randall Museum, 199 Museum (at Roosevelt), 554-9600,

An Accident: Lydia Stryk's play about recovery. Through May 9. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D (Marina & Buchanan), 441-8822,

An Apology for the Course and Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by Doctor John Faustus ... : A comedy by Mickle Maher. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through May 22. The Garage, 975 Howard (at Sixth St.), 885-4006,

Ashes to Ashes: Presented by Second Wind Productions. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through May 8. The Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Post), 989-0023,

Best of PlayGround 14: A Festival of New Writers & New Plays: Short plays. Starting May 6, Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through May 30. The Thick House, 1695 18th St. (at Arkansas), 401-8081,

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,

City Solo: Solo artists in the Bay Area. Sundays. Continues through May 23. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 336-0513,

The Consumption Series: Dance theater by Charles Slender. May 6-15, 8 p.m., $20. Mama Calizo's Voice Factory, 1519 Mission (at Van Ness), 690-9410,

Eat, Pray, Laugh!: Alicia Dattner's solo show. Wednesdays. Continues through May 26. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 336-0513,

Echo's Reach: By Tim Barsky and circus performers from City Circus/Acrosports. Fridays-Sundays. Continues through May 30. Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St. (at York), 641-7657,

Fishing: Presented by Open Tab Production. Starting May 7, Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through May 29. Shotwell Studios, 3252A 19th St. (at Folsom), 920-2223,

Geezer: A comedy about growing old by Geoff Hoyle. Fridays-Sundays. Continues through May 23. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750,

Hearts on Fire: Thelma Houston, El Vez, and Christine Deaver perform in Teatro ZinZanni's show. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 11:30 a.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through May 16, $117-$145. Pier 29, Embarcadero (at Battery), 273-1620.

Hot Greeks: Thrillpeddlers' new 1972 Cockettes revival. Thursdays, Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 27, $30-$69. The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), 377-4202,

La Rondine: Presented by Pocket Opera. Sun., May 9. Legion of Honor, 100 34th Ave. (at Clement), 863-3330,

Men Think They Are Better Than Grass: Presented by the Deborah Slater Dance Theater. Through May 9. Z Space, 450 Florida (at 17th St.), 626-0453,

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,

Monkey King: A Circus Adventure: Presented by the Clown Conservatory. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through May 25. Climate Theater, 285 Ninth St. (at Folsom), 263-0830,

Pearls over Shanghai: Thrillpeddlers brings back the Cockettes. Through Aug. 1, $30. The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), 377-4202,

Rhino: Adapted from Eugène Ionesco's Rhinoceros. May 6-29. Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma (at Sixth St.), 776-1747,

See Mom, I Didn't Forget!: With Julia Jackson, Thao P. Nguyen, Zahra Noorbakhsh, Martha Rynberg. Sun., May 9, 2 & 7 p.m. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100,

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

ShortLived: Audience-judged playwriting competition. Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through June 26. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 336-0513,

Slasher: A comedy by Allison Moore. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Continues through June 5. SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596,

St. Nicholas: Presented by Second Wind Productions. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through May 8. The Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Post), 989-0023,

Tell It Slant: Musical drama about Emily Dickinson. Fridays-Sundays. Continues through May 16. Fort Mason (Laguna & Bay), 345-7500,

Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding: Saturdays, 7 p.m.; Fridays, 7 p.m., $88.50-$115.50, Swiss Louis Restaurant at Pier 39, 2 Beach (at Embarcadero), 421-2913,

Very Warm for May: Presented by 42nd Street Moon. Starting May 6, Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 24. Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson (at Front), 788-7469,

Vinegar Tom: A musical by Caryl Churchill. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through May 9. SFSU Campus/Little Theater, 1600 Holloway (at 19th Ave.) (Creative Arts Bldg.), 338-2467,

Wanton Darkness: Presented by Second Wind Productions. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through May 8. The Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Post), 989-0023,

What Mama Said About Down There: Sia Amma's comedy. Thursdays, Sundays. Continues through June 3. Our Little Theater, 287 Ellis (at Taylor), 928-4060.

About The Authors

Jonathan Kiefer

SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.


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