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Our critics weigh in on local theater

Wednesday, Oct 27 2010

Compulsion. In this world premiere, playwright Rinne Groff does a masterful job of dramatizing the life of author and playwright Meyer Levin, who obsessed over bringing The Diary of Anne Frank to the stage. Levin secured, and then lost, an agreement with Anne's father, Otto, to write the stage adaptation of the bestseller. This disappointment spun Levin into a righteous and obsessive spiral for the rest of his life. As the character of Levin (named Sid Silver in this play), Broadway superstar Mandy Patinkin is passionate, paranoid, sanctimonious, pitiful, and awe-inspiring — all the elements that make this portrait of an artist undeniably brilliant. Matte Osian and the talented Hannah Cabell play all the other characters, while the spirit of Anne herself is embodied by a haunting marionette. Compulsion grapples with artistic ambition, moral obligation, Hollywoodizing history, and neurotic blindness all in one thrilling night of theater. Through Oct. 31 at Berkeley Rep, 2025 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley. $10-$73; 510-647-2949 or (Nathaniel Eaton) Reviewed Sept. 29.

9 Circles: The newest play by Bill Cain tells the story of a young American soldier on trial for his life. Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Nov. 7. $32-$53. Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller (at Evergreen), Mill Valley, 388-5200.

Beach Blanket Babylon: Steve Silver's musical revue spoofs pop culture with extravagant costumes. Wednesdays-Sundays. $25-$130. Club Fugazi, 678 Green (at Powell), 421-4222.

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.

Equus: This psychological thriller explores the reasons a teenager blinded six horses; it's loosely based on actual events. Wednesdays-Saturdays. Continues through Nov. 20. $10-$25. Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma (at Sixth St.), 776-1747.

Hail Caesar!: Teatro ZinZanni's new production. Through Oct. 31. $117-$145. Teatro ZinZanni, Piers 27 and 29 (Embarcadero and Battery), 438-2668.

Halloween Greek Shadow Puppet Play: Kharaghiozis Saves the Economy by Shadowlight Productions. Sun., Oct. 31, 7 p.m. Hallidie Plaza, Market (at Fifth St.).

Hedda Gabler: Off Broadway West Theatre Company's production of the Henrik Ibsen play. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Nov. 13. $25-$35. The Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Post), 989-0023.

(((JawVox))): During his final hour of a visit to Earth an extraterrestrial being reveals his comedic and candid observations, assuring the human race that their biggest fear is true: They are not alone. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Oct. 30. $10-$25. Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California (at Presidio), 292-1200.

Kiss of Blood: Thrillpeddlers' annual Shocktoberfest lineup including Grand Guignol terror plays Kiss of Blood, Lips of the Damned, and The Empress of Colma. Thursdays, Fridays; Sat., Oct. 30; Sun., Oct. 31. Continues through Nov. 19. $25-$35. The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), 377-4202.

Law and Order San Francisco Unit: The Musical (sort of)!: Comedy meets crime drama. Starting Nov. 1. Mondays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 15. $10. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.

Loveland: A solo production written and performed by Ann Randolph. Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through Nov. 13. $20-$50. The Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berkeley, 510-704-8291.

Make Drag, Not War!: Drag and theater work developed and performed as a collaboration between queens and Iraq war veterans; dance party follows. Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 8 p.m. $15-$20. CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission (at Ninth St.), 626-2060.

Mary Stuart: Shotgun Players production, adapted from Friedrich Schiller's Maria Stuart, depicting the power struggle between Elizabeth, Queen of England, and Mary, Queen of Scots. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Nov. 7. $20-$28. The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby (at MLK Jr.), Berkeley, 510-841-6500.

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.

Obscura: Christian Cagigal's magic show. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 18. $15-$25. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.

Pearls over Shanghai: Thrillpeddlers brings back the Cockettes. Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through Dec. 19. $30. The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), 377-4202.

The Real Americans: Dan Hoyle's solo show. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Nov. 6. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.

Reluctant: Joel Israel's spooky, mostly one-man show. Each performance features a different local female artist in the production. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 & 10 p.m. Continues through Nov. 13. $10-$25. Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St. (at York), 641-7657.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Cult classic features appearance by the performance troupe Barely Legal. Sat., Oct. 30, midnight. $8-$10. Albany Twin, 1115 Solano (at San Pablo), Albany, (510) 464-5980.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Cult classic features appearance by the performance troupe the Bawdy Caste. Sat., Oct. 30, midnight; Sun., Oct. 31, midnight. $8-$9.50. Clay, 2261 Fillmore (at Clay), 267-4893.

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

Three Sisters. Final Cut.: Tuesdays-Thursdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 17. $14-$28. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100.

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.

The Winter's Tale: The Actors Ensemble of Berkeley presents this Shakespeare play. Fridays-Sundays; Thu., Nov. 18. Continues through Nov. 20. $12-$15. Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck (at Berryman), Berkeley, 510-841-5580.

Word for Word: Staged reading of Lydia Davis piece. Mon., Nov. 1, 7 p.m. Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission (at Third St.), 655-7800.


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