Vaya con Dios: Point Break Live Reviewed

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Point Break Live isn't for everybody. Readers who find the idea of a show that requires a poncho to protect them from water and fake blood disturbing, or anyone who can't take a bit of dick humor, may need to skip it. But for folks who prefer a little adventure with their theater, Point Break Live will be an absolute blast. The evening feels like a night at the theater, a rock n' roll concert and a wild party all rolled into one. It's loud, hysterical and occasionally frightening.

When the lights first go down, the audience is warned that they will get "wet, bloody or both," and encouraged to get drunk at the bar. Then a montage of pivotal scenes from the movie plays, set to Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle."

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Even with Ian McKellan, Berkeley Rep's No Man's Land Tries and Fails to Be a One-Man Show

Categories: Review, Theatre

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Kevin Berne
Ian McKellen: Not exactly Gandalf anymore.

Audiences to No Man's Land at Berkeley Rep who seek classic Harold Pinter themes and devices in this later of his dramas, from 1975, will be disappointed. Sure, as with most of the absurdist playwright's work, responses here rarely proceed logically from what they follow. Characters expound at length on tangents, trifles, and outright nonsense while others onstage stare off silently, blankly, unhearing. They're also deeply unreliable, relaying only a kernel or two of truth throughout the play, but they often agree upon their lies, imagining and riffing to conjure a new reality.

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Dark, Dirty, Sublime: Richard Montoya's The River at A.C.T. Costume Shop

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Pak Han Photography
Steve Boss plays some mean guitar (and skeleton) in Montoya's "The River"
Identity is often times difficult to unravel -- there's many layers to define. So what happens when you try to describe the persona of an entire state like California?

Richard Montoya -- founder of renown, Mission-bred political performance group Culture Clash -- has written The River in collaboration with Sean San Jose, co-founder of theater company Campo Santo. The play -- which is actually part of Montoya's larger project, "The Borders Series" -- is designed to help us navigate California's conflicted identity, exploring in equal parts the humor and pathos surrounding California's notorious diversity and the inherent tension it brings.

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The Marsh's Acid Test Tests the Limits of Boomers' Affection for Ram Dass

Categories: Review, Theater

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Lynne Kaufman's Acid Test: The Many Incarnations of Ram Dass, now at the Marsh SF after an extended run at the Marsh's Berkeley venue, doesn't feel like a work of theater -- and not in a good way.

The 90-minute play about the rich-kid-turned-Ivy-League-professor-turned-psychedelic -turned-spiritual guru is a solo show -- a format that's already relatively untheatrical. Performer Warren David Keith has almost nothing to separate him from the audience. His only set is a chair and an end table that holds photos of important people from his life, as well as a projection screen that allows audiences to see larger versions of those pictures.

See also:

Symmetry Theatre's The Language Archive has many plot threads; most unravel


Sound Design Seizes the Lead in Custom Made's Eurydice But Fails to Deliver

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Symmetry Theatre's The Language Archive has many plot threads; most unravel

Categories: Review, Theater

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Doug McKechnie
The only new word captured during this foreign language recording was "fuckbutt."

Julia Cho's The Language Archive, now in a Symmetry Theatre production directed by Chloe Bronzan, is several different unfinished plays rolled into one. Only toward the end does it become the play it's supposed to be.

See also:

Gender Roles: Local Theater Confronts the Lack of Women Behind the Scenes

Sound Design Seizes the Lead in Custom Made's Eurydice But Fails to Deliver

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Sound Design Seizes the Lead in Custom Made's Eurydice But Fails to Deliver

Categories: Review, Theater

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Jay Yamada
Eurydice (Jessica Rudholm) goes to hell in Sarah Ruhl's eponymous play.
Sound design is one of those aspects of theater that usually slips by under the radar. It almost never makes or breaks a production. Instead, ideally, it should help make individual moments more complete, helping to fully immerse an audience into the world of a play.

The design in Custom Made Theatre Company's production of Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice is a rare exception to this rule.

See also:

The Arsonists Explores the Downside of Appeasement

The Happy Ones Messes With Your (American) Dreams


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It's Rainin' Pastel: Mr. Marina Gets Crowned

Categories: Review

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Alex Schmitt shows off his bronzed bod in the swimwear portion of the show
Last night we got the chance to channel our inner party bitch, the one who has a penchant for grape-flavored vodka and male strip clubs.

Ah, Mr. Marina, you did not disappoint. Amid the throngs of well-heeled spectators vying for the open bar, we basked in the manly glow of 10 fine specimens workin' the crowd harder than Tina Turner circa 1984.

The competition consisted of three rounds: a swimwear portion, a talent show section, and of course a Q&A round with each contestant. More importantly, it raised $91,000, all of which goes to cancer research.

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Jersey Boys: Can't Take My Eyes Off of You. Seriously.

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Nick Cosgrove as Frankie Valli serenades the crowd with "Sherry"

Everyone loves a good underdog story. But when you add some mobster shenanigans, drug use, copious sex, betrayal, death, and four blue-collar guys belting out more than 30 epic oldies like a jukebox on amphetamines, you've got Jersey Boys, the musical.

Chronicling the bittersweet saga of The Four Seasons, the 1960s rock n' roll quartet, the play -- directed by Des McAnuff -- traverses more than 40 years of the Boys' lives together from the streetwise corners of New Jersey to the glinting lights of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The play opens rather strangely -- in Paris of all places -- with a black rapper flanked by B-Girl dancers circa 2000. Tommy DeVito (played by the rakish John Gardiner) steps into the gyrating mass, freezing the action, and directly addresses the audience. He tells us the rapper was singing Oh What a Night (Ces Soirees), the 1963 hit from the Four Seasons. Yup, they got that big -- Europe big.

Each of the Boys takes over narration for part of the show, offering their own takes on the group's rise to stardom. It works well and offers the audience the occasional breather from Nick Cosgrove's relentless falsetto (more on that in a minute.)

Four seasons (get it?) demarcate the passage of time -- and the boys' different perspectives -- with pop-art projections over the stage. The set, designed by Klara Zieglerova, is fairly stark -- toggling between chain-link fences, scaffolding, bar stools and neon signs -- but transforms the space seamlessly and simply, allowing the music to take center stage.

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Cutting Ball's The Chairs Leaves Much to the Imagination and Little to Relate to

Categories: Review, Theater

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Sarah Roland
Tamar Cohn and David Sinaiko interact with a guest.

In his note on Cutting Ball's production of The Chairs, translator Rob Melrose calls Eugène Ionesco's tragic farce "a valentine to the imagination." In this production, directed by Annie Elias, imagination loves you back, but not without playing tricks on you.

See also:

Sex and the City: Live!: In Drag and More "Fabulous" Than Ever

Extreme Theater: Strindberg's Chamber Plays in Rep at the Cutting Ball

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Sex and the City: Live!: In Drag and More "Fabulous" Than Ever

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Kent Taylor
Miranda, Charlotte, Carrie, and Samantha have never looked better in their Manolo Blahniks.

The drag queens of Trannyshack are peddlers of nostalgia -- not nostalgia for drag queens like Mom used to make, but for pop culture of yore. The company is on the cutting edge of turning the contemporary into camp. Want to know which new old thing will make us homesick for the past next? Look no further than the subjects of the company's shows.

See also:

Annie Danger: She'll Take Your Body on a Spiritual Journey

The Write Stuff: Erica Lewis on Being a Eulogist of Memory

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