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.
Chance: A Musical Play About Love, Risk, and Getting it Right Alcove Theater, 415 Mason, Fifth Flr, SF; www.thealcovetheater.com. $40-60. Previews Fri/5-Sat/6, 8pm. Opens Sun/7, 5pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm); Sun, 5pm. Through July 28. New Musical Theater of San Francisco presents Richard Isen’s world premiere work inspired by the writings of Oscar Wilde.
Oil and Water This week: Dolores Park, 18th St and Dolores, SF; www.sfmt.org. Free. Thu/4, 2pm. Also Peacock Meadow, Golden Gate Park, SF; www.sfmt.org. Free. Sat/6, 2pm. Also Washington Square Park, Columbus at Union, SF; www.sfmt.org. Free. Sun/7, 2pm. Also Mitchell Park, South Field, 600 E. Meadow, Palo Alto; www.sfmt.org. Tue/9, 7pm. Free. At various NorCal venues through Sept. 2. The San Francisco Mime Troupe presents its 54th annual summer season; this year’s performance is comprised of two one-act musicals about corporations and the environment: Crude Intentions and Deal With the Devil.
Abigail’s Party San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post, SF; www.sfplayhouse.org. $30-100. Wed/3-Thu/4, 7pm; Fri/5-Sat/6, 8pm (also Sat/6, 3pm). Although it’s tempting to compare Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party to Edward Albee’s rancorous Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Abigail‘s escalating nastiness skews emphatically British, giving it as much in common with televised exports such as Fawlty Towers and the Ricky Gervais version of The Office. As with these, the humor in Abigail’s Party is of the bleakest and cruelest kind, and there are moments when the five Americans onstage don’t quite convey the wit that lurks beneath the ire, but when they do the results are hysterical and uncomfortable in equal measure. Though the party we witness is not Abigail’s (she’s having a teenage house party next door, the music of which keeps throbbing through the walls of Bill English’s attractively-appointed set) the adults-only cocktail party is just as awkward as any high school mixer. Hosted by the fiercely self-absorbed Beverly (Susi Damilano) and her obnoxiously classist husband Laurence (Remi Sandri), the guest list includes the mousy Angela (Allison Jean White), her monosyllabic husband Tony (Patrick Kelley Jones), and Abigail’s ill-at-ease mum, Susan (Julia Brothers), who’s agreed to keep out of the house during her daughter’s wild soiree. The acting — as well as Brendan Aanes’ sound design, Jacqueline Scott’s props, and Tatjana Genser’s costuming — is pitch perfect, but unless you haven’t already been to enough bad parties, you might find it difficult to sit through this one. If you do, don’t be surprised if you find yourself secretly envying Laurence by the end of the play — at least he finds a way out. (Gluckstern)
Betrayal Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason, Sixth Flr, SF; www.offbroadwaywest.org. $40. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through July 20. Off Broadway West Theatre Company performs Harold Pinter’s out-of-sequence drama about an unfaithful married couple.
Can You Dig It? Back Down East 14th — the 60s and Beyond Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. 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.
Dark Play, or Stories for Boys Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; www.theexit.org. $5-20. Fri-Sat, 9pm. Through July 13. Do It Live! Productions offers a steadily engrossing production of this slippery play from Chicago playwright Carlos Murillo, wherein a less-then-trusty teenage narrator, Nick (a clever, tightly wound, darkly charming Will Hand), addicted to “making shit up,” recounts his fateful internet-baiting of a fellow teen upon whom he had become fixated. As the unwitting object of Nick’s desire, sweet guy Adam (Adam Magil) gets pulled into an online love affair with Rachel (Amy Nowak), his first love, and — as fate and Nick would have it — Nick’s sister. But Rachel exists only online. And her equally fantastical evil stepdad (Nathan Tucker) soon intercedes, throwing Nick and Adam closer together. All of this disembodied desire floating around the ether leads to a physical climax even Freud might find a bit much, but the way there proves increasingly tense and interesting — if also a little frustrating itself at times in some strained plot points and, especially, its overwrought psychopathologizing of homoerotic desire. (Erik LaDue’s awkward set design also takes a little getting over.) But despite various flaws, the story intrigues, thanks to the solid performances from director Logan Ellis’s sure cast. Tucker and Kelly Rauch are dependable throughout in a varied range of sharp and often hilarious supporting roles. Nowak’s take on the vital (albeit imaginary) teen heroine is refreshingly straightforward. And Hand, while slightly slower to catch fire, ends up a persuasively complex figure at the center of it all. (Avila)
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.com. $26-38. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through Sept 7. Shelton Theater peforms Yasmina Reza’s award-winning play about class and parenting.
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.
In A Daughter’s Eyes Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St, SF; www.brava.org. $15. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through July 14. Brava! For Women in the Arts and Black Artists Contemporary Cultural Experience presents the West Coast premiere of A. Zell Williams’ tale of two women: the daughter of a man on death row, and the daughter of the man he’s been convicted of killing.
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)
So You Can Hear Me Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thu-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through July 20. A 23-year-old with no experience, just high spirits and big ideals, gets a job in the South Bronx teaching special ed classes and quickly finds herself in over her head. Safiya Martinez, herself a bright young woman from the projects, delivers this inspired accounting of her time not long ago in perhaps the most neglected sector of the public school system — a 60-minute solo play that makes up for its relatively slim plot with a set of deft, powerful, lovingly crafted characterizations. These complex portraits, alternately hysterical and startling, offer their own moving ruminations on a violent but also vibrant stratum of American society, deeply fractured by pervasive poverty and injustice and yet full of restive young personalities too easily dismissed, ignored, or crudely caricatured elsewhere. An effervescent, big-hearted, and very talented performer, Martinez’s own bounding personality and contagious passion for her former students (as complicated as that relationship was), makes this deeply felt tribute all the more memorable. (Avila)
Steve Seabrook: Better Than You Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Sat, 8:30pm. Extended through August 24. 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)
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 July 27. 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)
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.
Dear Elizabeth Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $24-77. Wed/3 and Sun/7, 2 and 7pm; Fri/5-Sat/6, 8pm (also Sat/6, 2pm). 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. Wed/3 and Sun/7, 2 and 7pm; Fri/5-Sat/6, 8pm (also Sat/6, 2pm). Hershey Felder stars in his celebration of the music and life of composer George Gershwin.
Sea of Reeds Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $20-35. Previews Wed/3-Thu/4, 8pm. Opens Fri/5, 8pm. Runs Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Aug 18. Josh Kornbluth’s brand new comedy — it involves atheism, oboes, and the Book of Exodus — opens at Shotgun Players “before it goes on Torah.”
Superior Donuts Pear Avenue Theatre, 1220 Pear, Mtn View; www.thepear.org. $10-30. Wed/3 and Thu-Sat, 8pm (no show Thu/4); Sun, 2pm. Through July 14. Pear Avenue Theatre performs Tracy Letts’ comedy about the redemptive power of friendship.
This Is How It Goes Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org. $32-60. Tue and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm); Wed-Sat, 8pm. Extended through July 28. An awkward love triangle between former high school classmates gets the caustic Neil LaBute treatment in Aurora Theatre Company’s production of This is How it Goes. Not content to merely skewer the familiar battles between the sexes, LaBute further prods his captive audience with the big stick of race relations, and the often unacknowledged prejudices that lurk in the hearts of men. And women. There are no innocents in this play, though each character certainly has moments where they play upon audience sympathies, only to betray them a few inflammatory lines later. As the marriage between the successful yet self-conscious African American alpha male Cody (Aldo Billingslea) and his neurotically placating Caucasian wife Belinda (Carrie Paff) erodes, the mostly affable (and former fat kid) “Man” (Gabriel Marin) insinuates himself in the middle of their troubled relationship, obviously still carrying the torch for Belinda he did 15 years ago — as well as the same wary animosity an unpopular kid carries for the star of the track team, in this case, Cody. All three actors do a very good job of shape-shifting between their middle-class Jekyll and Hyde selves, assisted in part by Marin’s amiable asides, which don’t so much lull the audience as tease them with the idea that things are about to get better, when they can only get worse. (Gluckstern)
Caroline Lugo and Carolé Acuña’s Ballet Flamenco Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; www.carolinalugo.com. July 13, 21, and 27, 6:15pm. $15-19. Flamenco performance by the mother-daughter dance company, featuring live musicians.
“Comedy Returns to El Rio” El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Mon/8, 8pm. $7-20. With Eve Meyer, Johan Miranda, Kate Willett, Sammy Obeid, and Lisa Geduldig.
“Mission Position Live” Cinecave, 1034 Valencia, SF; www.missionpositionlive.com. Thu, 8pm. Ongoing. $10. Stand-up comedy with rotating performers.
“Performance Making Showcase” Z Space, 450 Florida, SF; www.zspace.org. Sat/6, 7:30pm. Free. Work created by participants in the University of Chichester (UK)’s Performance Making Institute.
“Queer Rebels of the Harlem Renaissance” Performances: African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton, SF; www.queerrebels.com. Fri/5-Sat/6, 8pm. $15-20. Films: New Parkway, 474 24th St, Oakl; www.queerrebels.com. Sun/7, noon. $7-10. The National Queer Arts Festival presents this showcase of queer black performers, plus films by and about the same.
“Randy Roberts: Live!” Alcove Theater, 414 Mason, Ste 502, SF; www.thealcovetheater.com. 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 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.
“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: “Accordion Daze,” Sat, noon-3. *