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. For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.
Love in the Time of Zombies Café Royale, 800 Post, SF; sftheaterpub.wordpress.com. Free ($5 donation suggested). Opens Mon/15, 8pm. Runs Mon-Tue, 8pm. Through Oct 30. San Francisco Theater Pub performs Kirk Shimano’s “rom-zom-com.”
The Scotland Company Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; www.thunderbirdtheatre.com. $15-25. Opens Thu/12, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Oct 27. Thunderbird Theatre Company performs Jake Rosenberg’s new comedy.
“Strindberg Cycle: The Chamber Plays in Rep” Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor, SF; www.cuttingball.com. $10-50 (festival pass, $75). Previews Fri/12-Sat/13, 8pm; Sun/14, 5pm (part one); Oct 25, 7:30pm and Oct 26, 8pm (part two); Nov 1, 7:30pm and Nov 2, 8pm (part three). Opens Oct 18, 7:30pm (part one); Oct 27, 8pm (part two); and Nov 3, 8pm (part three). Runs Thu, 7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 5pm. Through Nov 18. Cutting Ball performs a festival of August Strindberg in three parts: The Ghost Sonata, The Pelican and The Black Glove, and Storm and Burned House.
An Iliad Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $14.50-77. Previews Fri/12-Sat/13 and Tue/16, 8pm; Sun/14, 7pm. Opens Oct 17, 8pm. Runs Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through Nov 11. Berkeley Rep performs Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare’s Homer-inspired tale.
Richard the First: Part One, Part Two, Part Three Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; www.centralworks.org. $14-25. Previews Fri/12, 8pm (part one); Sat/13, 8pm (part two); and Sun/14, 5pm (part three). Opens Oct 18, 8pm (part one); Oct 19, 8pm (part two); and Oct 20, 8pm (part three). Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm (three-part marathon Sundays, Nov 11 and 18, 2, 5, 8pm). Through Nov 18. This Central Works Method Trilogy presents a rotating schedule of three plays by Gary Graves about the king known as “the Lionheart.”
Elect to Laugh Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. Tue, 8pm. Through Nov 6. $15-50. Veteran political comedian Will Durst emphasizes he’s watching the news and keeping track of the presidential race “so you don’t have to.” No kidding, it sounds like brutal work for anyone other than a professional comedian — for whom alone it must be Willy Wonka’s edible Eden of delicious material. Durst deserves thanks for ingesting this material and converting it into funny, but between the ingesting and out-jesting there’s the risk of turning too palatable what amounts to a deeply offensive excuse for a democratic process, as we once again hurtle and are herded toward another election-year November, with its attendant massive anticlimax and hangover already so close you can touch them. Durst knows his politics and comedy backwards and forwards, and the evolving show, which pops up at the Marsh every Tuesday in the run-up to election night, offers consistent laughs born on his breezy, infectious delivery. One just wishes there were some alternative political universe that also made itself known alongside the deft two-party sportscasting. (Avila)
Family Programming: An Evening of Short Comedic Plays Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $20. Thu/11-Sat/13, 8pm. Left Coast Theatre Company performs short plays about gay and alternative families.
The Fifth Element: Live! Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission, SF; www.darkroomsf.com. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 27. Comedic adaptation of the 1997 Luc Besson sci-fi epic.
Foodies! The Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.foodiesthemusical.com. $30-34. Fri-Sat, 8pm (no show Nov 17). Open-ended. AWAT Productions presents Morris Bobrow’s musical comedy revue all about food.
Geezer Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $30-100. Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Nov 18. Geoff Hoyle’s popular solo show about aging returns.
Of Thee I Sing Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.42ndstmoon.org. $25-75. Wed, 7pm; Thu-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm (also Sat/13, 1pm); Sun, 3pm. Through Oct 21. 42nd Street Moon performs George and Ira Gershwin’s classic political satire.
The Play About the Baby Gough Street Playhouse, 1620 Gough, SF; www.custommade.org. $30. Thu/11-Sat/13, 8pm; Sun/14, 7pm. Custom Made Theatre presents Edward Albee’s devilishly funny 1998 play, an intriguing and gleefully idiosyncratic work about the brutality to which innocence is invariably subjected in this world. In a formal and thematic reshuffling of the Albee deck (from which he drew earlier gems like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? or The American Dream), the play offers two couples: Boy (Shane Rhoades) and Girl (Anya Kazimierski) — two innocents in the blush of first love who have just had a baby — and Man (Richard Aiello) and Woman (Linda Ayres-Frederick), a quippy, slightly sinister pair who intrude on the younger couple for initially undisclosed reasons. As much propositions as people (albeit lively ones), the characters move around a stage backed by a wall-full of assorted chairs (in Sarah Phykitt’s somewhat enigmatic scenic design) addressing each other and the audience by turns, the older ones prone to digressive monologues, the younger to ingenuous rapture, confusion, and finally (as their predicament becomes clear) anguish. The play’s oddball dialogue and intentional repetition demand a lot from a cast, however, and director Brian Katz gets uneven results from his. While Kazimierski offers a sure, buoyant performance as Girl, Rhodes wavers in his delivery, proving only occasionally convincing as Boy. Ayres-Frederickson exudes a nice, saucy, indomitable air as Woman, and Aiello is a pretty good match for her, despite a somewhat stilted start. But the effect overall is a little too erratic to avoid turning the play’s intentional repetitions into a slow-growing tedium. (Avila)
The Real Americans Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $25-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Extended through Oct 27. Dan Hoyle’s hit show, inspired by the people and places he encountered during his 100-day road trip across America in 2009, continues.
Roseanne: Live! Rebel, 1760 Market, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $25. Wed, 7 and 9pm (no shows Oct 31). Through Nov 14. Lady Bear, Heklina, D’Arcy Drollinger, and more star in this tribute to the long-running sitcom.
Shocktoberfest 13: The Bride of Death Hypnodrome, 575 10th St, SF; www.thrillpeddlers.com. $25-35. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through Nov 17. Thrillpeddlers’ annual Halloween horror extravaganza features a classic Grand Guignol one-act and two world premiere one-acts, plus a blackout spook show finale.
The Strange Case of Citizen de la Cruz Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth St, SF; www.bindlestiffstudio.org. Thu/11-Sat/13, 8pm. Bindlestiff Studio presents Luis Francia’s political thriller.
Twelfth Night San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, Hyde Street Pier, 2905 Hyde, SF; www.weplayers.org. $30-80. Sat/13, 5:30pm. After spending the summer on Angel Island with their epic-scale production of The Odyssey, the We Players have scaled back with a lo-key rendition of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night on Hyde Street Pier. Of course when it comes to the We Players, “scaled-back” still means a two-and-a-half hour long participatory jaunt taking place mainly along the length of the pier and aboard the historic ferryboat, the Eureka, which serves primarily as the residence of the grieving Illyrian Countess, Olivia (Clara Kamunde) around whose favors much of the plot revolves. Highlights of the experience include the opportunity to visit historic Hyde Street Pier, a gypsy-jazzy score directed by Charlie Gurke (who also plays the lovelorn Duke Orsino), and the rascally quartet of the prankish Maria (Caroline Parsons), jocular drunk Toby Belch (Dhira Rauch), clueless doofus Andrew Augecheek (Benjamin Stowe), and wise fool Feste (John Hadden). But as We Players productions go, this one feels less inspired in its staging, and much of the action merely shuffles back and forth on the Eureka without incorporating many of the intriguing nooks and views the Hyde Street Pier offers, despite a promising opening scene involving a beach and a rowboat. Also, uncharacteristically for We, the comic timing seemed to be off the evening I saw it, although both Stowe and Hadden ably conveyed their wit without a flaw. Dress warmly, carry a big flask, and you’ll be fine. (Gluckstern)
The Waiting Period Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thu-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Extended through Oct 27. Brian Copeland (comedian, TV and radio personality, and creator-performer of the long-running solo play Not a Genuine Black Man) returns to the Marsh with a new solo, this one based on more recent and messier events` in Copeland’s life. The play concerns an episode of severe depression in which he considered suicide, going so far as to purchase a handgun — the title coming from the legally mandatory 10-day period between purchasing and picking up the weapon, which leaves time for reflections and circumstances that ultimately prevent Copeland from pulling the trigger. A grim subject, but Copeland (with co-developer and director David Ford) ensures there’s plenty of humor as well as frank sentiment along the way. The actor peoples the opening scene in the gun store with a comically if somewhat stereotypically rugged representative of the Second Amendment, for instance, as well as an equally familiar “doood” dude at the service counter. Afterward, we follow Copeland, a just barely coping dad, home to the house recently abandoned by his wife, and through the ordinary routines that become unbearable to the clinically depressed. Copeland also recreates interviews he’s made with other survivors of suicidal depression. Telling someone about such things is vital to preventing their worst outcomes, says Copeland, and telling his own story is meant to encourage others. It’s a worthy aim but only a fitfully engaging piece, since as drama it remains thin, standing at perhaps too respectful a distance from the convoluted torment and alienation at its center. (Avila)
Acid Test: The Many Incarnations of Ram Dass Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thu-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through Nov 24. Lynne Kaufman’s new play stars Warren David Keith as the noted spiritual figure.
Assassins Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $20-30. Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Nov 11. Shotgun Players performs the Sondheim musical about John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, and other famous Presidential killers (and would-be killers).
Hamlet Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda; www.calshakes.org. $35-71. Wed/10-Thu/11, 7:30pm; Fri/12-Sat/13, 8pm; Sun/14, 4pm. Liesl Tommy directs this season closer for Cal Shakes, a decidedly uneven and overall surprisingly bland production of one of Shakespeare’s most fascinating, affecting, and endlessly rich works. The best part of Tommy’s less-than-inspired hodgepodge production (summed up by the dry and cluttered swimming-pool set, albeit very nicely designed by Clint Ramos) is lead Leroy McClain, whose Hamlet is a vibrantly intelligent and charismatic force most of the time. He gets some fine support from Dan Hiatt as a comically pedantic but still sympathetically paternal Polonius, but there is precious little chemistry with either Ophelia (a nonetheless striking Zainab Jah) or faithless queen mother Gertrude (Julie Eccles). The rest of the cast is rarely more than dutiful. Meanwhile, the staging comes laden with some awkward and/or tired conceits: a small fish tank-like landscape inset into the back wall for an unraveling Ophelia; a gore-covered zombie-esque ghost (a flat Adrian Roberts, who also plays Claudius); or guards sporting submachine guns, which always looks ridiculous. Moreover, the language comes awkwardly modernized in places —substituting “dagger” for “bodkin” in a rather famous soliloquy, for example, seems unnecessary and is definitely distracting. Why not “submachine gun”? (Avila)
The Kipling Hotel: True Misadventures of the Electric Pink ’80s Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Sat/13, 8:30pm; Sun/14, 7pm. This new autobiographical solo show by Don Reed, writer-performer of the fine and long-running East 14th, is another slice of the artist’s journey from 1970s Oakland ghetto to comedy-circuit respectability — here via a partial debate-scholarship to UCLA. The titular Los Angeles residency hotel was where Reed lived and worked for a time in the 1980s while attending university. It’s also a rich mine of memory and material for this physically protean and charismatic comic actor, who sails through two acts of often hilarious, sometimes touching vignettes loosely structured around his time on the hotel’s young wait staff, which catered to the needs of elderly patrons who might need conversation as much as breakfast. On opening night, the episodic narrative seemed to pass through several endings before settling on one whose tidy moral was delivered with too heavy a hand, but if the piece runs a little long, it’s only the last 20 minutes that noticeably meanders. And even with some awkward bumps along the way, it’s never a dull thing watching Reed work. (Avila)
Sex, Slugs and Accordion Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $10. Wed, 8pm. Through Nov 14. Jetty Swart, a.k.a. Jet Black Pearl, stars in this “wild and exotic evening of song.”
33 Variations 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 Oct 28. TheatreWorks performs Moisés Kaufman’s drama about a contemporary musicologist struggling to solve one of Beethoven’s greatest mysteries, and a connecting story about the composer himself.
Topdog/Underdog Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; www.marintheatre.org. $36-57. Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Thu/11, 1pm; Oct 20, 2pm); Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Oct 21. Marin Theatre Company performs Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer Prize winner about a contentious pair of brothers.
The World’s Funniest Bubble Show Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $8-50. Sun, 11am; Nov 23-25, 11am. Through Nov 25. Louis “The Amazing Bubble Man” Pearl brings his lighter-than-air show back to the Marsh.
“Bi Curious Comedy Night” Deco Lounge, 510 Larkin, SF; www.decosf.com. Sun/14, 8pm. $10. With Nick Leonard, Kate Willet, Nicole Calasich, and more.
“Comedy Bodega” Esta Noche Nightclub, 3079 16th St, SF; www.comedybodega.com. Thu, 8pm. Ongoing. No cover (one drink minumum). This week: the San Francisco Comedy Burrito Festival.
“Gravity (and other large things)” NOHspace, 2840 Mariposa, SF; www.performancelab.org. Wed/10, Fri/12-Sat/13, and Oct 19-20, 8pm; Sun/14 and Oct 21, 4pm. $12-25. Right Brain Performancelab present this evening-length dance-theater piece.
“A New Anthropology of Asian-Black Relations” Garage, 715 Bryant, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Wed-Thu, 8pm. $10-20. Mash-up poetry installation, plus performance, by Kevin Simmonds.
Smuin Ballet Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon, SF; www.smuinballet.org. Thu/11-Sat/13, 8pm (also Sat/13, 2pm); Sun/14, 2pm. $25-65. The company performs its fall program, including West Coast premiere Cold Virtues.
“The Spooky Cabaret” Stage Werx, 446 Valencia, SF; www.wilywestproductions.com. Wed/10, 7:30pm. $10. ‘Tis the season for this fest of three full-length and five one-act plays with horror themes.
“Theatecture on UN Plaza” Civic Center, UN Plaza, Seventh St at Market, SF; www.ftloose.org. Tue/16, noon-2pm. Free. Outdoor performance of Mary Alice Fry’s Honeycomb Zone as part of the “24 Days of Central Market Arts Festival.”