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Our critics weigh in on local theater

Wednesday, Nov 10 2010

Shocktoberfest!! 2010: Kiss of Blood. The Thrillpeddlers are quintessential San Francisco: a bunch of freaks performing freaky shows. They emulate, celebrate, and reinterpret the Parisian shock and horror theater of the Grand Guignol with elaborate set pieces and lush, exotic costuming. Like San Francisco itself, artistic director Russell Blackwood and company aren't afraid to dabble in S&M, cross-dressing, sexual deviance, and plain old lusty fun — and this show is all of those. This round of three short plays involves severed fingers, gas masks, drag queens, botched brain surgery, and a giant functional guillotine at center stage. The Thrillpeddlers are very good at what they do, but I wish they would rely a little less on over-the-top campiness and more on what they advertise: danger, shock, and titillation. Through Nov. 19 at the Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), S.F. $30-$35; 800-838-3006 or (Nathaniel Eaton) Reviewed Oct. 27.

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.

Burning Libraries: Fridays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 14. $15-$30. Z Space, 450 Florida (at 17th St.), 626-0453.

Circus Finelli: San Francisco's all-women clown troupe, specializing in ridiculous circus comedy with a vaudeville aesthetic. Every other Wednesday, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 22. $10-$20. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 730-3433.

Coraline: A cautionary tale about attaining a perfect life that turns out to be not so perfect. Play and music by David Greenspan and Stephin Merritt. Starting Nov. 16. Tuesdays-Saturdays; Tuesdays-Saturdays; Sun., Dec. 26; Dec. 28-31; Tuesdays-Saturdays. Continues through Jan. 15. $30-$50. SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596.

Failure 2 Communicate: Performers Under Stress presents a physical theater piece told through multiple viewpoints about autistic high school kids, their gang-banger classmates, and educators. Fridays-Sundays. Continues through Nov. 14. $20. The Garage, 975 Howard (at Sixth St.), 885-4006.

The Great American Songbook: Liz Callaway Sings Sondheim. Sat., Nov. 13, 8 p.m. Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California (at Presidio), 292-1200.

Habibi: A new play about Palestinian immigrants by Sharif Abu-Hamdeh. Thursdays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 21. $15-$25. Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th St.), 626-2787.

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.

It's All the Rage: One-woman show starring Marilyn Pittman. Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through Dec. 5. $20-$35. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.

Law and Order San Francisco Unit: The Musical (sort of)!: Comedy meets crime drama. 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 (at Shattuck), Berkeley, 510-704-8291.

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.

Mortified: Fri., Nov. 12, 8 p.m. $12-$15. Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St. (at Mission), 647-2888.

Murder for Two: A musical take on the classic murder mystery in which one actor plays the detective and the other actor plays all of the suspects — and they both play the piano. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Nov. 21. Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson (at Front), 788-7469.

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

Or,: A work by Liz Duffy Adams that peers into the life and times of Aphra Behn. Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 5. $20-$30. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina & Buchanan, 441-8822.

Palomino: The new solo play by writer and actor David Cale. Tuesdays-Sundays; Through Nov. 24; Through Nov. 28; Through Dec. 5. Continues through Nov. 21. $10-$55. Aurora Theatre Company, 2081 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley, 510-843-4822.

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

A Perfect Ganesh: Terrence McNally's play about two women traveling from the U.S. to India. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Dec. 19. $24. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972.

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.

Secret Improv Society: Underground improvisational theater. Saturdays, 10 p.m. $15. 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.

The Tempest: A three-person chamber version of the Shakespeare play. Fridays-Sundays; Thu., Nov. 11; Thu., Nov. 18. Continues through Nov. 28. $15-$50. The Cutting Ball Theater, 277 Taylor St..

Tom Lenk Live: The actor and comedian (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Transformers) performs an alternative comedy/storytelling show with mortifying and crazy tales. Sat., Nov. 13, 8 p.m. $15. Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987.

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 Unexpected Man: Ironic comedy by Yasmina Reza. Fridays-Sundays. Continues through Nov. 14. $25. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.

West Side Story: Members from the touring cast of the Broadway musical present a benefit to raise funds for the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Mon., Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m. $25-$75. Marines Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter (at Mason), 771-6900.

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.

Wits 'n' Ass: An all-female lineup of comedy, including monologues, sketches, and excerpts from one-woman shows. Thu., Nov. 11, 8 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 9, 8 p.m. $10. Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987.


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