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 firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.
The Bus New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $32-45. Previews Wed/27-Fri/29, 8pm. Opens Sat/30, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through April 28. NCTC performs James Lantz’s tale of two young men whose meeting place for their secret relationship is a church bus.
The Happy Ones Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Bldg D, Third Flr, SF; www.magictheatre.org. $22-62. Previews Wed/27-Sat/30, 8pm; Sun/31, 2:30pm; Tue/2, 7pm. Opens April 3, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2:30pm; no matinee April 20); Sun, 2:30pm; Tue, 7pm. Through April 21. An Orange County appliance store owner finds his life turned upside down in Julie Marie Myatt’s drama at Magic Theatre.
reasons to be pretty San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post, Second Flr, SF; www.sfplayhouse.org. $30-100. Previews Wed/27-Fri/29, 8pm. Opens Sat/30, 8pm. Runs Tue-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm). Through May 11. San Francisco Playhouse’s tenth season continues with Neil LaBute’s romantic drama.
Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma: The Next Cockettes Musical Hypnodrome, 575 10th St, SF; www.thrillpeddlers.com. $30-35. Previews Thu/28-Sat/30, 8pm. Opens April 4, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through June 1. Thrillpeddlers’ sixth annual Theatre of the Ridiculous Revival presents a restored version of the Cockettes’ 1971 Art Deco-inspired musical extravaganza.
The Whipping Man Marin Theatre Center, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; www.marintheatre.org. $36-57. Previews Thu/28-Sat/30, 8pm; Sun/31, 7pm. Opens Tue/2, 8pm. Runs Tue-Sat, 8pm (also April 6 and 20, 2pm; April 11, 1pm); Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through April 21. Marin Theatre Company performs the Bay Area premiere of Matthew Lopez’s Civil War drama.
Assistance NOHspace, 2840 Mariposa, SF; www.opentabproductions.com. $20. Thu/28-Sat/30, 8pm. Over the past three years, things we’ve come to expect from plucky OpenTab Productions whose annual offerings deal in aggressively contemporary themes such as media spin, business fraud, and job (in)security include tight ensemble acting, minimal tech, and snappy direction, and in all these regards, Assistance does not disappoint. A crew of desperate office drones whose lives basically revolve around the abuse dished out by their unseen employer, Daniel Weisinger (who may or may not resemble playwright Leslye Headland’s old boss, Harvey Weinstein), hold down their airless fort, fielding calls at 11 p.m. and shirking responsibility whenever possible. Though Headland doesn’t do much to make her emotionally and professionally stunted characters palatable, the capable cast and director Ben Euphrat do manage to wring something resembling humanity out of them. From Nick (Tristan Rholl,) the frustrated slacker supervisor, to Nora (Melissa Keith), the-new-girl-turned-cynical-old-hand, to Justin (Nathan Tucker), the unctuous winner of the title of "last man standing," to Jenny (Michelle Drexler) a pragmatic yet annoyingly bubbly Brit, what stands out in each performance are the perfectly captured quirky nuances and barely-concealed neuroses of people caught in the process of losing their souls. Nothing about Assistance is likely to change your view of the business world, but if you’ve yet to experience the frenetic fun of an OpenTab show, it’s a perfect primer to the madness behind their method. (Gluckstern)
The Chairs Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor, SF; www.cuttingball.com. $20-45. Thu, 7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 5pm. Extended through April 7. In Rob Melrose’s new translation of Eugene Ionesco’s The Chairs, an elderly couple sit in the austere parlor of their lonely lighthouse, chortling over a spate of private wordplay and reminiscing of sprightlier times, until their initially frantic and disjointed dialogue settles into a smooth flow, well-polished by decades of endearments and gentle bickering. Possibly the last two survivors of a not entirely explained apocalypse, the isolated nonagenarians (magnificently played by David Sinaiko and Tamar Cohn) nevertheless make it known that important guests are expected to arrive at any moment in order to hear a hired orator (Derek Fischer) deliver the Old Man’s "message," which he has spent a lifetime honing. As the doorbell begins to ring, a jarring squall, and invisible guests and dozens of mismatched chairs begin to crowd their peaceable empire in claustrophobia-inducing numbers, their companionable seclusion is shattered for good. Director Annie Elias manages to coax both gravitas and decorum out of this little-produced, yet influential absurdist relic, imbuing her protagonists with a depth of character that belies their farcical circumstances, while Theodore J.H. Hulsker’s murmuring sound design of crashing waves, angry winds, and the strident doorbell could almost be another character in the play, so thoroughly does it set the tone in ways that Ionesco might not have approved of, but is all the better for. (Gluckstern)
The Couch Tides Theatre, 533 Sutter, Second Flr, SF; www.3girlstheatre.org. $30. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun/31, 4pm; April 7, 2pm. Extended through April 7. As the centerpiece of its second annual festival of plays in honor of Women’s History Month, 3Girls Theatre, devoted to Bay Area women playwrights, revives Lynne Kaufman’s fitful but enjoyable 1985 dramatic comedy about the inception of the famous sexual and psychiatric triangle between Carl Jung (Peter Ruocco), wife Emma Jung (Courtney Walsh), and his mistress and analysand Toni Wolff (Maggie Mason). In this, her first play, Kaufman (whose most recent play, Acid Test, explores the life of Ram Dass) folds in Carl’s critical 1912 break with mentor Sigmund Freud (Louis Parnell) for an action-packed day Chez Jung. (Also on the scene is the Jung’s precocious daughter Katherine, played by a sure and animated Hattie Rose Allen Bellino). Amy Glazer directs a solid cast who convincingly blends the farcical aspects of the dialogue with its meatier and more dramatic ones, as new ties and power dynamics are sometimes roughly, other times genteelly negotiated. The former is usually the stuff of high comedy, as when Freud goes apoplectic upon learning Jung is not necessarily the disciple and "son" he had thought him to be. And Jung’s (proto-) New Agey leanings only add fuel to the fire: When Carl turns to the I Ching to decide on the best course of action for his career going forward, Freud erupts, "You idiot! You’re playing tiddlywinks with the human race!" But it is ultimately the politics of love and the household that take center stage, with Walsh’s vulnerable yet ever dignified Emma emerging as, if not the greatest psychiatrist, perhaps the greatest strategist of them all. (Avila)
Eurydice Gough Street Playhouse, 1622 Gough, SF; www.custommade.org. $25-30. Thu-Sat, 8pm (no shows Thu/28-Fri/29); Sun, 7pm. Through April 14. Custom Made Theatre Co. performs Sarah Ruhl’s inventive take on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, exploring the story through the heroine’s eyes.
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.
God of Carnage Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.sheltontheater.org. $38. Thu/28-Sat/30, 8pm. Shelton Theater presents Yasmina Reza’s Tony-winning comedy about upper-middle-class parents clashing over an act of playground violence between their children.
Just One More Game Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; www.tripleshotprodutions.org. $25. Thu/28-Sat/30, 8pm. With the rise of the programmer as pop culture hero, it was probably inevitable that we’d start writing plays about them too. In local playwright Dan Wilson’s Just One More Game our programmer protagonist is Kent (Christopher DeJong) whose mission is to find love, and his co-player is Marjorie (Linda-Ruth Cardozo), who wields her own geek credentials like a Mortal Kombat wrath hammer. Where Wilson’s comedy excels is in the witty gamer banter that defines much of their attraction and commonality references to Zork, Oregon Trail, Dungeons and Dragons, and The Secret of Monkey Island abound, while a series of meticulous video game animations (also Wilson’s) lend colorful counterpoint to the action on the stage. DeJong plays his role of emotionally-inhibited loner with a degree of laconic detachment that unfortunately eliminates all traces of chemistry between him and Cardozo, who is especially good at capturing the cheerfully aggressive awkward of a woman accustomed to being "one of the boys" because there was nothing about "the girls" she could relate to. Both the comedy and pace flag by the time the first NPCs (non-player characters) enter the room, broadly clichéd parents yammering for grandchildren and obnoxious college buddies armed with too many baby photos, who conspire to stunt the growth of Kent and Marjorie’s relationship and wind up stunting the growth of the play. If the quest for love is a game, as the title suggests, it’s one that could use a little more back-end development, and a much greater degree of playfulness. (Gluckstern)
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. (Avila)
Steve Seabrook: Better Than You Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Fri/29, 8pm; Sat/30, 8:30pm. Starting April 4, runs Thu, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Extended through May 18.
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)
The Voice: One Man’s Journey Into Sex Addition and Recovery Stage Werx Theater, 446 Valencia, SF; thevoice.brownpapertickets.com. $10-18. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through April 6. Ticket sales for David Kleinberg’s autobiographical solo show benefit 12-step sex addiction recovery programs and other non-profits.
The Waiting Period Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $25-50. Fri/29, 8pm; Sat/30, 5pm. 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. Note: review from an earlier run of the same production. (Avila)
The Coast of Utopia: Voyage & Shipwreck Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $20-35. Shipwreck previews Wed/27-Thu/28, 7pm; Fri/29, 8pm. Opens Sat/30, 8pm. Runs Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through May 5. Voyage previews Wed/27, 7pm. Opens April 3, 3pm. Runs April 13, 20, 27, and May 4, 3pm. Shotgun Players perform the first two parts of Tom Stoppard’s revolutionary trilogy.
Dostoevsky’s The Grand Inquisitor Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; www.centralworks.org. $15-28. Thu/28-Sat/30, 8pm; Sun/31, 5pm. Central Works performs Gary Graves’ adaptation of the story-within-a-story from The Brothers Karamazov.
Fallaci Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-89. Tue, Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through April 21. Berkeley Rep performs Pulitzer-winning journalist Lawrence Wright’s new play about Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci.
The Mountaintop Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield, Palo Alto; www.theatreworks.org. $23-75. Wed/27, 7:30pm; Thu/28-Sat/30, 8pm (also Sat/30, 2pm); Sun/31, 2pm. Starting April 3, runs Wed-Thu, 11am (also Thu, 8pm); Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through April 7. TheatreWorks performs Katori Hall’s play that re-imagines the events on the night before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.
The Real Americans Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $25-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through April 6. Dan Hoyle shifts his popular show about small-town America to the Marsh’s Berkeley outpost.
BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; www.improv.org. $20. "Theatresports," Fri/29, 8pm. "Double Feature," Sat/30, 8pm.
"Dream Queens Revue" Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, 133 Turk, SF; www.dreamqueensrevue.com. Wed/27, 9:30pm. Free (reservations suggested: email@example.com). Fab drag with Colette LeGrande, Diva LaFever, and more.
"Madame Ho" Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, 595 Market, Second Flr, SF; www.commonwealthclub.org. Mon/1, 6pm. Free. Magic Theatre’s 2013 Martha Heasley Cox Virgin Play Series concludes with this staged reading of Eugenie Chan’s Barbary Coast drama.
"Mission Position Live" Cinecave, 1034 Valencia, SF; www.missionpositionlive.com. Thu, 8pm. Ongoing. $10. Stand-up comedy with rotating performers.
"New Works by Artists in Residence" CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; www.counterpulse.org. Thu/28-Sun/31, 8pm. $20-30. With richien (Rowena Richie and Jennifer Chien) performing Twindependent, and Sense Object (Miriam Wolodarksi) performing Of Limb and Language.
"The News: Out of the Box with Bernadette Bohan of the Box Factory" SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan, SF; www.thenewsperformance.eventbrite.com. Tue/2, 7:30pm. $5. SOMArts wraps up its experimental performance series.
"A Night of Utopian Gestures" Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF; www.ybca.org. Sat/30, 7-10pm. Free. Interactive celebration of exhibit "Without Reality There Is No Utopia," featuring Israeli artist Dana Yahalomi, Futurefarmers’ Michael Swaine, live music, and more.
"Picklewater Clown Cabaret Benefit for Judy Finelli" Stage Werx, 446 Valencia, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Mon/1, 8pm. $15. Clowning for a good cause: SF School for Circus Arts co-founder Finelli, who has multiple sclerosis.
"The Romaine Event Comedy Show: Eight Year Anniversary Show" Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St, SF; www.pacoromane.com. Wed/27, 8-10pm. $10. Celebrate with Ngaio Bealum, Paco Romane, Kaseem Bentley, David Gborie, and Anna Serengina, plus music by DJ Specific.
"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.
"The Secret History of Love" Dance Mission Theater, 3316 16th St, SF; www.seandorseydance.com. Thu/28-Sun/31, 8pm (also Sat/30-Sun/31, 4pm). $10-25. Sean Dorsey Dance makes a local stop on the company’s 20-city national tour with this performance inspired by Dorsey’s work on the National LGBT Elders Oral History Project.
"Sing-Along Jesus Christ Superstar" Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri/29, 7pm. $15-35. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence ring in the Sisters’ Annual Easter Weekend with this festive sing-along, plus the debut of the Chunky Jesus Contest.
"The Divine Game" Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. Mon/1, April 15, and 29, 8pm. $20. First Person Singular and Shotgun Cabaret present this dramatic re-enactment of Nabokov teaching at Cornell in the 1950s.