Stage listings are compiled by Guardian staff. Performance times may change; call venues to confirm. Reviewers are Robert Avila, Rita Felciano, and Nicole Gluckstern. Submit items for the listings at email@example.com.
Can You Dig It? Back Down East 14th — the 60s and Beyond Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Opens Sat/15, 8pm. Runs Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Aug 25. Solo performer Don Reed returns with a prequel to his autobiographical coming-of-age hits, East 14th and The Kipling Hotel.
Darling, A New Musical Children’s Creativity Museum, 221 Fourth St, SF; www.act-sf.org. $20. Opens Fri/14, 7:30pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 7:30pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through June 29. American Conservatory Theater’s Young Conservatory performs Ryan Scott Oliver and Brett Ryback’s jazz-age musical.
This Is How It Goes Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org. $32-60. Previews Fri/14-Sat/15 and June 19, 8pm; Sun/16, 2pm; Tue/18, 7pm. Opens June 20, 8pm. Runs Tue and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm); Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through July 21. Aurora Theatre Company performs the Bay Area premiere of Neil LaBute’s edgy comedy about an interracial couple.
Arcadia ACT’s Geary Theater, 415 Geary, SF; www.act-sf.org. $20-95. Wed/12-Sat/15, 8pm (also Sat/15, 2pm); Sun/16, 2pm. In Tom Stoppard’s now 20-year-old master work Arcadia, sex and science, and poetry and pastoralism crowd the otherwise uncluttered stage (designed by Douglas W. Schmidt), as two sets of characters separated by 200 years demonstrate themselves to be far more connected then even their immediate descendents suspect. As two modern academics (Gretchen Egolf and Andy Murray) vie over the contents of a country estate library in order to verify their own pet theories about the past occupants — including, briefly, Lord Byron — a 19th-century intellectual prodigy (Rebekah Brockman) discovers the principles of chaos theory more than a hundred years ahead of her time, impressing her raffish tutor (Jack Cutmore-Scott) while the rest of the household busies itself with the mundane intrigues that better typify their aristocratic caste. Although at times the pacing of the nearly three-hour play feels sluggish, the slow unfurling of key plot points and character reveals suits the intricacies of the text, while still allowing for much of Stoppard’s wry humor to shine, if not crackle, through the layers. The delightfully antagonistic chemistry between Egolf and Murray, and the more delicately cerebral connection between Brockman and Cutmore-Scott alone make this a production worth seeing, to say nothing of the rigorous crash course in Latin, landscaping, physics, and Romanticism. (Gluckstern)
Birds of a Feather New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through June 29. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs the San Francisco premiere of Marc Acito’s tale inspired by two gay penguins at the Central Park Zoo.
Black Watch Drill Court, Armory Community Center, 333 14th St, SF; www.act-sf.org. $100. Wed/12-Sat/15, 8pm (also Wed/12 and Sat/15, 2pm); Sun/16, 2pm. American Conservatory Theater presents the National Theatre of Scotland’s internationally acclaimed performance about Scottish soldiers serving in Iraq.
The Divine Sister New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through June 29. Charles Busch’s latest comedy pays tribute to Hollywood films involving nuns.
Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? Costume Shop, 1117 Market, SF; www.therhino.org. $15-30. Wed/12-Sat/15, 8pm; Sun/16, 3pm. Theatre Rhinoceros performs Caryl Churchill’s play that asks, “Do countries really behave like gay men?” Included in the program are two one-act plays: Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza and Deborah S. Margolin’s Seven Palestinian Children.
Foodies! The Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.foodiesthemusical.com. $30-34. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. AWAT Productions presents Morris Bobrow’s musical comedy revue all about food.
410[GONE] Thick House, 1695 18th St, SF; www.crowdedfire.org. $10-35. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through June 29. Crowded Fire Theater presents the world premiere of Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s fanciful, Chinese folklore-inspired look at the underworld.
Frisco Fred’s Magic and More Alcove Theater, 414 Mason, Ste 502, SF; www.thealcovetheater.com. $35-50. Thu-Sat, 7pm. Through June 29. Performer Fred Anderson presents his latest family-friendly show, complete with magic, juggling, and “crazy stunts.”
Hedwig and the Angry Inch Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma, SF; www.boxcartheatre.org. $27-43. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. John Cameron Mitchell’s cult musical comes to life with director Nick A. Olivero’s ever-rotating cast.
Into the Woods Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.rayoflighttheatre.com. $25-36. Thu-Sat, 8pm (check website for matinee schedule). Through June 29. Ray of Light Theatre performs Stephen Sondheim’s fairy-tale mash-up.
Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor, SF; www.cuttingball.com. $10-50. Extended run: Thu, 7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 5pm. Through June 23. For patrons of last year’s production of Annie Elias’ documentary theater piece Tenderloin, walking into Cutting Ball’s take on Andrew Saito’s Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night brings about a slight sensation of déjà vu. It’s not so much that the cast actually resembles that of Tenderloin (save the familiar face of Cutting Ball associate artist David Sinaiko), but there’s a similar atmosphere of decay and powerlessness that roils beneath a surface of surrealistic flash. Framed by Michael Locher’s versatile, split-level set, clad in Meg Neville’s savvy costumes, the trampled-upon characters hurl poetic invective around the stage, delight in fish heads and petrified gerbils, plot to torture, seduce, and murder, and form clumsy, temporary alliances in order to accomplish the above. David Sinaiko’s crass, legless patriarch Pap Pap and Marjorie Crump-Shears’ deceptively fragile-looking brothel proprietor Gran Ma Ma preside over the inexorable decline of their insular households while their immediate kin, the cheerfully morbid Drumhead (Wiley Naman Strasser) and the irresistible temptress, Scarlett (Felicia Benefield), desperately seek to break free of their overbearing elders and the stifling routines that chain them to their circumstances. Much like the fish heads beloved by the characters as food, the play isn’t easy to digest, and there are gaps left in the narrative that even heavy abstraction can’t explain away, but Saito’s topsy-turvy world is nonetheless one worth visiting, and inaugurates his three-year playwriting residency at Cutting Ball with a weird and wonderful flourish. (Gluckstern)
Oleanna Exit’s Studio Theater, 156 Eddy, SF; www.theexit.org. $18-25. Fri/14-Sat/15, 8pm (also Sat/15, 2pm); Sun/16, 4pm. True to the mission implied in its name, Spare Stage offers dramatic purity en lieu of flashy stage concepts in this beautifully calibrated, consistently stimulating production of David Mamet’s 1992 two-hander, about a university professor (Aaron Murphy) and the female undergrad (Frannie Morrison) who accuses him of sexual misconduct. The action takes place exclusively inside the small office where John, on the verge of gaining tenure and simultaneously closing a deal on a new house, meets with his failing student Carol, a young woman who, ironically enough, seems lost by the concepts her professor deploys in his lectures on the social underpinnings of higher education (insights he recycles from his recently minted book, which is naturally the assigned reading). What begins as a condescending tutorial by the distracted prof soon turns into a vaguely prurient extracurricular exercise and, then, a table-turning power struggle as the initially introverted and stumbling Frannie returns with serious and highly articulate charges of impropriety throwing John’s tenure and world into jeopardy. Now it’s his turn to try to explain and justify himself. The power struggle throughout is grippingly played by the remarkably potent team of Murphy and Morrison, who, under the shrewd direction of Stephen Drewes, lock into a dynamic battle of wills where minute changes in posture can say as much about the cloaked, institutionalized nature of power as anything in Mamet’s precise and heightened dialogue. (Avila)
Sex and the City: LIVE! Rebel, 1760 Market, SF; trannyshack.com/sexandthecity. $25. Wed, 7 and 9pm. Open-ended. It seems a no-brainer. Not just the HBO series itself — that’s definitely missing some gray matter — but putting it onstage as a drag show. Mais naturellement! Why was Sex and the City not conceived of as a drag show in the first place? Making the sordid not exactly palatable but somehow, I don’t know, friendlier (and the canned a little cannier), Velvet Rage Productions mounts two verbatim episodes from the widely adored cable show, with Trannyshack’s Heklina in a smashing portrayal of SJP’s Carrie; D’Arcy Drollinger stealing much of the show as ever-randy Samantha (already more or less a gay man trapped in a woman’s body); Lady Bear as an endearingly out-to-lunch Miranda; and ever assured, quick-witted Trixxie Carr as pent-up Charlotte. There’s also a solid and enjoyable supporting cast courtesy of Cookie Dough, Jordan Wheeler, and Leigh Crow (as Mr. Big). That’s some heavyweight talent trodding the straining boards of bar Rebel’s tiny stage. The show’s still two-dimensional, even in 3D, but noticeably bigger than your 50″ plasma flat panel. Update: new episodes began May 15. (Avila)
Steve Seabrook: Better Than You Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thu, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Extended through June 29. Self-awareness, self-actualization, self-aggrandizement — for these things we turn to the professionals: the self-empowerment coaches, the self-help authors and motivational speakers. What’s the good of having a “self” unless someone shows you how to use it? Writer-performer Kurt Bodden’s Steve Seabrook wants to sell you on a better you, but his “Better Than You” weekend seminar (and tie-in book series, assorted CDs, and other paraphernalia) belies a certain divided loyalty in its own self-flattering title. The bitter fruit of the personal growth industry may sound overly ripe for the picking, but Bodden’s deftly executed “seminar” and its behind-the-scenes reveals, directed by Mark Kenward, explore the terrain with panache, cool wit, and shrewd characterization. As both writer and performer, Bodden keeps his Steve Seabrook just this side of overly sensational or maudlin, a believable figure, finally, whose all-too-ordinary life ends up something of a modest model of its own. (Avila)
Sylvia Fort Mason Theater, Fort Mason Center, Bldg C, Rm 300, Marina at Laguna, SF; sylvia.brownpapertickets.com. $20-45. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through June 30. Independent Cabaret Productions and Shakespeare at Stinton present AR Gurney’s midlife-crisis comedy.
Talk Radio Actors Theatre of San Francisco, 855 Bush, SF; www.actorstheatresf.org. $26-38. Wed/12-Sat/15, 8pm. Actors Theatre of San Francisco performs Eric Bogosian’s breakthrough 1987 drama.
Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma: The Next Cockettes Musical Hypnodrome, 575 10th St, SF; www.thrillpeddlers.com. $30-35. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Extended through June 29. Thrillpeddlers and director Russell Blackwood continue their Theatre of the Ridiculous series with this 1971 musical from San Francisco’s famed glitter-bearded acid queens, the Cockettes, revamped with a slew of new musical material by original member Scrumbly Koldewyn, and a freshly re-minted book co-written by Koldewyn and “Sweet Pam” Tent — both of whom join the large rotating cast of Thrillpeddler favorites alongside a third original Cockette, Rumi Missabu (playing diner waitress Brenda Breakfast like a deliciously unhinged scramble of Lucille Ball and Bette Davis). This is Thrillpeddlers’ third Cockettes revival, a winning streak that started with Pearls Over Shanghai. While not quite as frisky or imaginative as the production of Pearls, it easily charms with its fine songs, nifty routines, exquisite costumes, steady flashes of wit, less consistent flashes of flesh, and de rigueur irreverence. The plot may not be very easy to follow, but then, except perhaps for the bubbly accounting of the notorious New York flop of the same show 42 years ago by Tent (as poisoned-pen gossip columnist Vedda Viper), it hardly matters. (Avila)
Vital Signs: The Pulse of an American Nurse Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Sun/16, 7pm. Registered nurse Alison Whittaker returns to the Marsh with her behind-the-scenes show about working in a hospital.
The World’s Funniest Bubble Show Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $8-50. Sun, 11am. Through July 21. Louis “The Amazing Bubble Man” Pearl returns after a month-long hiatus with his popular, kid-friendly bubble show.
The Beauty Queen of Leenane Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; www.marintheatre.org. $36-52. Wed/12, 7:30pm; Thu/13-Sat/15, 8pm (also Sat/15, 2pm); Sun/16, 2 and 7pm. Martin McDonagh wrote a rash of plays in the mid-1990s (six in all) that have had worldwide traction ever since, though I suspect it’s due less to any thematic depth or aesthetic polish than to the cool charm of McDonagh’s gritty and hilariously broad riffs on rural Irish life — a scene the London-born playwright (now filmmaker) gleaned from a distance, during vacations to County Galway as a child, and which serves as a ready vessel for all the pettiness, naiveté, cruelty, extreme violence, and loneliness of contemporary life in general. Of course, there’s usually a little passing tenderness along the way. All of these traits are on display in The Beauty Queen of Leenane, the first of McDonagh’s plays to win production (in 1996) and accolades in the UK and on Broadway. Marin Theatre Company offers a well acted if muted production of this bleakly humorous little drama about the bottled-up home life of a 40-year-old spinster, Maureen (Beth Wilmurt), and her manipulative semi-invalid mother, Mag (Joy Carlin). The sadomasochism inherent in Maureen and Mag’s daily battle of wits and wills over the porridge and the pee in the sink comes to a cringing climax eventually, but most of the drama sustains itself on the passive aggressive dialogue along the way, with buoying interjections from dim and sniping neighbor Ray (an amusingly snarky Joseph Salazar) and his brother Pato (a winningly bemused yet gallant Rod Gnapp), the latter presenting himself as the unlikely knight who might rescue Maureen from her mirthless seclusion. Wilmurt’s shy and desperate, vaguely unhinged Maureen and Carlin’s unassumingly treacherous Mag, carried helplessly away by the logic of her dependency, are nicely wrought and affecting in director Mark Jackson’s careful staging. However, the violence is oddly muffled as played, as is the claustrophobia that should be almost unbearable in the unchanging setting of the women’s dingy kitchen. As is, on MTC’s large stage and designer Nina Ball’s open set (which does away with the walls and front door en lieu of a larger expanse of gray), the actors are rarely right up against each other and the tension and sense of visceral disgust is accordingly too dispersed. (Avila)
Bubbles for Grown-Ups Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Wed, 8pm. Through June 19. Louis “The Amazing Bubble Man” Pearl presents a show aimed at adults.
By & By Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $20-30. Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through June 23. Shotgun Players presents a new sci-fi thriller by Lauren Gunderson.
Dear Elizabeth Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $24-77. Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun and July 3, 2pm); Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat and Thu/6, 2pm; no show July 4). Through July 7. Berkeley Rep performs Sarah Ruhl’s play written in the form of letters between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell.
George Gershwin Alone Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-77. Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through June 23. Hershey Felder stars in his celebration of the music and life of composer George Gershwin.
The Medea Hypothesis Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; www.centralworks.org. $15-28. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through June 23. Medea is perhaps one of the most problematic tragic protagonists in theater history, as even the most flexibly sympathetic viewpoint is severely challenged when faced with a filicidal mother. But at Central Works, rather than just updating an old tale of bloody vengeance, The Medea Hypothesis further takes a page from the pop science book of the same name written by Peter Ward, in which he speculates on the latent suicidal and self-destructive tendencies of the planetary superorganism. As the brittle, middle-aged Em, Jan Zvaifler dominates the stage, holding herself and her glamorous career in fashion together as her husband leaves her for a woman with a “perfect neck” and her daughter Sweetie (Dakota Dry), who appears only as a video projection, becomes contested property in an angry custody battle. Relentlessly egged on by her Mephistophelian flunky Ian (Cory Censoprano), and enraged by the interference of her ex-husband’s prospective father-in-law (Joe Estlack), Em does lash out at the happy couple in the Euripides-approved manner (though with flunky-provided “Plutonium 210” instead of plain old poison) but when it comes to the expected act of ultimate violence playwright Marian Berges provides a surprising twist to the familiar Grecian formula, giving Em a shot at a redemption never allowed the Euripidean matriarch. It’s still undeniably a tragedy, but concurrently, also a triumph. Kind of like the continued presence of multicellular life on earth. (Gluckstern)
Wild With Happy TheatreWorks at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro, Mtn View; www.theatreworks.org. $23-73. Tue-Wed, 7:30pm; Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through June 30. TheatreWorks presents the West Coast premiere of Colman Domingo’s new comedy, starring the playwright himself.
“Bitter Queen” Garage, 715 Bryant, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri/14-Sat/15, 8pm; Sun/16, 2pm. $15. The Garage’s AIRspace residency program and the National Queer Arts Festival present this physical theater installation and contemporary dance performance.
Caroline Lugo and Carolé Acuña’s Ballet Flamenco Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; www.carolinalugo.com. Sat/16, June 22, 30, July 13, 21, and 27, 6:15pm. $15-19. Flamenco performance by the mother-daughter dance company, featuring live musicians.
“Dream Queens” Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, 133 Turk, SF; www.dreamqueensrevue.com. Wed/12, 9:30pm. Free. Drag with Collette LeGrande, Diva LaFever, Sophilya Leggz, and more.
“Laughs at the Lookout” Lookout, 3600 16th St, SF; www.lookoutsf.com. Thu/13, 10pm. $5. Stand-up with host Valerie Branch and guests Charlie Ballard, Eloisa Bravo, Ronn Vigh, Shanti Charan, and Justin Lucas.
“Love and Light” Joe Goode Annex, Project Artaud, 401 Alabama #150, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Thu/13-Fri/14, 7:30pm. $10-18. Leigh Fitzjames performs her solo play about a yoga teacher who has a one-night stand with a famous guru.
“ImShift” CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; www.counterpulse.org. Fri/14-Sat/15, 8pm. $8-20. Victoria Mata’s performance investigates what identity means for a Latin American in the diaspora.
LEVYdance Heron Street, off 8th St between Folsom and Harrison, SF; www.levydance.org. Wed/13, 7pm (opening night celebration); Fri/14-Sun/16, 8:30pm. $20-200. “Spring Season at Home” features favorite works from the company’s first ten years, presented on custom-built outdoor stages and catwalks.
“Mission Position Live” Cinecave, 1034 Valencia, SF; www.missionpositionlive.com. Thu, 8pm. Ongoing. $10. Stand-up comedy with rotating performers.
“Mortified SF” DNA Lounge, 375 11th St, SF; www.getmortified.com. Fri/14, 7:30pm. $21. Outrageous and awkward true tales, told by those who lived them.
“ODC Dance presents Global Dance Passport Showcase” ODC Theater, 3153 17th St, SF; www.odctheater.org. Fri/14-Sat/15, 8pm (also Sat/15, 5:30pm). $10. A sampler of dance styles from around the world.
“Randy Roberts: Live!” Alcove Theater, 414 Mason, Ste 502, SF; www.thealcovetheater.com. Fri-Sat through June 29 and July 9, 16, and 23, 9pm. $30. The famed female impersonator takes on Cher, Better Midler, and other stars.
Red Hots Burlesque El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; www.redhotsburlesque.com. Wed, 7:30-9pm. Ongoing. $5-10. Come for the burlesque show, stay for OMG! Karaoke starting at 8pm (no cover for karaoke).
“San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival: Weekend Two” Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Lam Research Theater, 700 Howard, SF; www.sfethnicdancefestival.org. Sat/15-Sun/16, 2pm (also Sat/15, 3pm). $18-58. With Colective Anqari, Chaksam-Pa, Parangal Dance Company, and more.
“San Francisco Magic Parlor” Chancellor Hotel Union Square, 433 Powell, SF; www.sfmagicparlor.com. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Ongoing. $40. Magic vignettes with conjurer and storyteller Walt Anthony.
Amara Tabor-Smith Various locations (starts at 32 Page), SF; www.dancersgroup.org. Sat/15 and June 21-23, 3:30-8:30pm. Free. Dancers’ Group’s ONSITE Series presents the performer’s site-specific work, He Moved Swiftly But Gently Down the Not Too Crowded Street: Ed Mock and Other True Tales in a City That Once Was…
“Union Square Live” Union Square, between Post, Geary, Powell, and Stockton, SF; www.unionsquarelive.org. Through Oct 9. Free. Music, dance, circus arts, film, and more; dates and times vary, so check website for the latest.
“Yerba Buena Gardens Festival” Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission between 3rd and 4th Sts, SF; www.ybgfestival.org. Through Oct 15. Free. This week: Na Lei Hulu I Ke Wekiu (Sat/15, 1-2:30pm).
“Bloomsday in Berkeley” Garden Gate Creative Center, 2911 Claremont, Berk; www.wildeirish.org. Sat/15, 7pm; Sun/16, 2pm. $25. Staged readings from James Joyce’s Ulysses and other works.
“Ojai North!” Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, Bancroft at Telegraph, Berk; www.calperformances.org. Wed/12-Sat/15, times vary. $20-110. The Ojai Music Festival makes a NorCal visit with performances that include the world premiere of Mark Morris Dance Group’s Stravinsky/The Rite of Spring.
“Swearing in English: Tall Tales at Shotgun” Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. Mon/17, 8pm. $15. Shotgun Cabaret presents John Mercer in a series of three stranger-than-fiction dramatic readings.
“Te’s Harmony” El Cerrito Performing Arts Center, 540 Ashbury, El Cerrito; tesharmonyencore.eventbrite.com. Fri/14-Sat/15, 6-9pm. $8-45. Spoken word theater written and performed by Richmond youth.