“Billy Elliot”: Music & Dance Delight by Elton John, at Berkeley Playhouse

“Billy Elliot”: Music & Dance Delight by Elton John, at Berkeley Playhouse

A Boy Learns to Dance, Coal Miners Learn to Strike! by Barry David Horwitz In 1981, Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative British government announced a plan to close 23 coal-mines in Northern England, putting 41,000 miners out of work. The miners rose up, organized their unions and went on strike for a year. Strikes are more common in England than in the U.S. “Billy Elliot,” the musical, captures the essential grassroots battle that went on for all those families, spotlighting the story…

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“Death of a Salesman” in Trump-World, at Ubuntu Theater Project, Oakland

“Death of a Salesman” in Trump-World, at Ubuntu Theater Project, Oakland

Millennial Notes Arthur Miller LIVES in Multi-Cultural America by Geordie Milne Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” (1949) exposes the cruelty of the American Dream. Given the rise of Donald Trump, the Ubuntu Theater Project’s production of  Miller’s classic American tragedy “Death of a Salesman,” about the decline and fall of a big-talking, small-time salesman is timely indeed. Willie Loman (Julian Lopez-Morillas), an aging travelling salesman with a New York firm, expresses all the bluff and bluster of a Trump….

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“Eat, Pray, Laugh!” An Indian Quest, at The Marsh, Berkeley

“Eat, Pray, Laugh!” An Indian Quest, at The Marsh, Berkeley

Alicia Dattner Seeks the Perfect Guru by Sweta Chawla More like a court jester than an L.A. princess, Alicia Dattner has not only performed stand up comedy for a dozen years, she actually has a degree in it. Who knew? Even after winning New York and San Francisco solo comedy awards, Alicia has taken her love of making people laugh, and given it a spiritual makeover. In “Eat, Pray, Laugh!” she stamps her unique touch on story-telling by bringing enlightenment…

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“Silence! the Musical” Tastes Delicious, at Victoria Theatre, S.F.

“Silence! the Musical” Tastes Delicious, at Victoria Theatre, S.F.

Parody of Silence of the Lambs Gets Down and Dirty by John Chakan The success of a parody can often hinge on how well one knows the original work. And you will surely enjoy “Silence! The Musical,” if you are a big fan of the 1991 movie, Silence of the Lambs. However, even if you are not familiar with Agent Clarice Starling and Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter, you will have a great time with this wild “Unauthorized Parody,” now playing…

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“Ideation” Questions Authority at Marin Onstage, San Rafael

“Ideation” Questions Authority at Marin Onstage, San Rafael

Just Doing Their  Jobs  by Kim Waldron “Ideation” by Aaron Loeb asks us to think about things we would rather not consider. A dark comedy with equal measures of humor and dread, Loeb’s play baffles (and rattles) us, as we watch ace corporate consultants in brainstorming sessions. Gradually, the recognizable managerial types slip from cold calculation of probabilities to confused paranoia.  Unless, of course, it’s not paranoia, but righteous outrage—and fear. When they first get down to work, three engineers…

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“Playtest” Electrifies BLAST Festival, at Shotgun Players, Berkeley

“Playtest” Electrifies BLAST Festival, at Shotgun Players, Berkeley

S.F. Neo-Futurists BLAST 30 Plays in One Hour! by Buzz Goldberg I’m still buzzing about the San Francisco Neo-Futurists’ show at Shotgun Players, part of Shotgun’s three-week long Blast Theater Festival (#Blastival for you tweeters). The Neo-Futurists’ show is electric, magnetic, and highly energetic—not to mention extremely inventive and highly entertaining. I could go on. The Neo-Futurists have been a fixture in Chicago’s theater scene for many years, and spawned sister troupes in New York City and San Francisco. Their…

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Mike Daisey Blasts “The End of Journalism” at Shotgun Players, Berkeley

Mike Daisey Blasts “The End of Journalism” at Shotgun Players, Berkeley

Daisey Turns Tragic to Comic at BLAST Theater Festival by Barry David Horwitz Mike Daisey is the U.S.’s most powerful story-teller. He comes out and sits at a table in the spotlight in the darkness at Ashby Stage, and begins to reel us in with a story about visiting a friend in the hospital. He tells us that we are all waiting in a hospital. Well or ill, we share a common condition. Although he seems to be dramatically warming…

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“Fool for Love” Thrills and Shocks at Magic Theatre, S.F.

“Fool for Love” Thrills and Shocks at Magic Theatre, S.F.

Shepard’s Sexual Tragedy Is Riveting in Revival by D. Marc Capobianco Many theaters stage revivals of plays that have been performed in their earlier repertoire and proven enormously popular, but it’s a rare opportunity to see a play return to the site of its world première. Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love,” now at Magic Theatre, debuted here in 1983, and catapulted the careers of its lead actors, Ed Harris and Kathy Baker. The buzz surrounding the play, with its ties…

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“Hand to God” Brings Something Wicked to Berkeley Repertory Theatre

“Hand to God” Brings Something Wicked to Berkeley Repertory Theatre

There Be Demons in Robert Askins’ Puppet Tyrone by Kim Waldron I prefer my horror stories to be fabulous, rather than realistic. Give me an orange-haired, foul-mouthed, demon-possessed sock puppet named Tyrone over a mass murderer any day. Be aware, however, that the demon Tyrone in “Hand to God” is no amateur. He’s smart, funny, and knows both history and the human heart. His zest for evil is exceeded only by his commitment to maintaining his dominion over Jason, whom…

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“A Thousand Splendid Suns” Shines on Women, at A.C.T., S.F.

“A Thousand Splendid Suns” Shines on Women, at A.C.T., S.F.

Millennial Notes Sarma Adapts Aghan Novel in Spectacular Style by Ben Sloan American Conservatory Theater has succeeded in putting Khaled Hosseini’s best selling novel on the stage in grand fashion in a world premiere adaptation by Ursula Rani Sarma. Directed by Artistic Director Carey Perloff with epic splendor, the show recreates the story of “A Thousand Splendid Suns” with the allure of an actual voyage to the East.  The on stage story dazzles with its opulence and humanity, taking arms…

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