Drama Talk & Drinks: Berry Gordy in person

Katie & Brittany checked out Motown the Musical, and it sounds pretty great. Here’s their report (with a couple notes from me at the end, I couldn’t help myself, sorry):

We were very excited but also very skeptical about seeing Motown The Musical. (We are always at least a little skeptical when it comes to musicals based on already written music) Of course we knew of Motown Records, but didn’t know much about the man who founded it, Berry Gordy, so we were very interested to see how Broadway was going to tell this story.

Katie: I want some more Motown!

Brittany: Me too! The set was insane! There were many times that I was just like how are they doing that??

K: I was really into all those moving screens with media on them. For a second I thought they were projections but realized that they were large TV’s.

B: Amazing production value and cast. Everyone was beautiful and talented. It was disgusting.

K: It was like being taken back in time and attending a Motown concert. When the Marvin Gaye character started singing “What’s Going On” I almost started crying. I was extremely entertained but the only time it got a little slow was at the end of the second act.

B: I loved that since it was opening night Berry Gordy and the director came up after the show. And it was cool to hear the director talk about how this is exactly what we need right now, music that brings people of all ages and colors together, dancing and being kind to each other. And at the end of the first act “What’s Going On” was being sung during video of protests of the day and all I could think was wow, so timely and so on point. Not that it wouldn’t have been amazing otherwise, but the resonance with what’s happening in the world right now and what this play is about was really in sync.

K: Right, and yet I loved hearing these songs in context of the time period and what was going on in history.

B: The girl who played Diana Ross was so good. She was basically her generation’s Beyonce, and that woman pulled it off flawlessly. People should definitely go see it. There was a real story to tell and they did a great job telling it.

K: I could not stop smiling when little Michael Jackson was singing! So freakin’ adorable!

 

The Verdict: If you love Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, The Jackson Five and being “wow’ed” by talented singers, this is the event you will want to treat yourself to. This was everything you expect and hope for from a Broadway touring show. Amazing set, ridiculously talented actors and being thoroughly entertained for two hours.

The Drama Talk: We were afraid that this musical was just going to be hit song after hit song with a random plot shoehorned in. Instead it was more about what was happening at that time. That’s what really worked, it wasn’t just actors breaking into a song that everyone knows, just because. You really feel like you are at a Motown concert.

The Drinks: We were really excited after the show, so knew we wanted a good, strong cocktail. We decided on a place that was only a couple of blocks away from the theater that we had never heard of called Oddjob, which we found out opened 9 months ago. [They lost me at "bespoke mixologist mastery" - Ed.] Though pricey (our drinks were $14 each) they were really, really good. [Also, re: Oddjob, "working man's cocktail room" with $14 drinks . . . sorry, continue. - Ed.] We both ordered the “For Your Eyes Only”. Such a treat! Oh, and the “secret” entrance is to the left of the building, down the alleyway. Great way to end our entertaining evening. [Oh, secret alleys? Done it. - Ed.]

Motown the Musical runs through 9/28 at the Orpheum Theatre and tickets can be purchased through their website. Ticket prices vary from $45-$200 depending on where you sit. ALSO, another way to go is to grab some of the limited number of $40 rush tickets available two hours prior to curtain at the SHN Orpheum Theatre Box Office. It’s cash only and only 2 tickets per person, and are subject to availability. There are also tickets available on Goldstar for $69-$80.

 

Drama Talk & Drinks: “It felt like a bad joke.”

Brittany & Katie do this column because they love theater. They really do. And so it is with two heavy hearts that they delivered this review of Patterns, at The New Stage in Hayes Valley:

“Wall-size video projections surround the audience with an awe-inspiring panoramic view of love in life.” This was the description we read when we got the invitation to check out Patterns a one woman performance piece. Sounds awesome right? We thought so.

After the show, at the line for the bathroom

Man in line: Did you guys get it?
Katie: Nope.
Brittany: Nope.
Man in line: Ok good, me neither.

The Verdict: This piece feels like a over-thought and over-indulgent Master’s thesis. It’s definitely interesting but not necessarily enjoyable.

The Drama Talk: Amy Munz, The New Stage founder and the creator and performer of Patterns is obviously a talented artist. But Patterns feels more like an artist’s contemporary take on Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty, than a piece designed to entertain. The show kicks off with screaming manic laughter and devolves from there. Although The New Stage concept of immersing the audience in video projections is intriguing, the positioning of the screens made us feel like were were watching a tennis match. We had to constantly readjust and look from side to side around fellow audience members heads to catch obstructed views of the dream-like video projections. It was tiring.

Video of what looks like a cow being disemboweled plays while the character of a young girl delivers a disjointed schizophrenic monologue (not about cows getting disemboweled, mind you). It felt like a bad joke. Munz might be trying to alienate the audience, but the performance fails to actually assault the senses (largely because video screens are obscured) while playing into every stereotype of the out of touch ACTOOOR. The characters, though vibrant and distinct, lacked an arc. There wasn’t really a story to speak of, just flashes into the psyches of unstable women. Without a story, without a character arc, and with obstructed video screens which nearly gave us whiplash we didn’t really enjoy the show. This piece has so many promising elements, but this execution falls short.

The Drinks: After the show we couldn’t wait to get a drink and sort through what we just saw, luckily Sauce was very nearby. Sauce is a quaint little bar and restaurant under a boutique hotel. Katie had the moscow mule and Brittany had the American Honey Side Car. They were tasty and strong and helped us relax after a hectic performance piece that left our heads spinning and neck aching.

Patterns runs through 8/16 at the the Dennis Gallagher Arts Pavilion, and tickets can be purchased through their website. Ticket prices vary from $30-$65 depending on what package you buy.

Drama Talk & Drinks: “We are left with a dun dun dun di di di dun di di”

This week, Katie & Brittany went to see a musical based on a movie that sparked a romance that turned into a Broadway show and then came to our little town. Here’s their report:

Remember the 2006 movie Once? I know it was a long time ago but we still remember getting “Falling Slowly” stuck in our heads.

So we were really excited to check out the stage adaptation of Once last week. The musical was nominated for 11 Tony awards and won 8 of them. Between the critically acclaimed movie and all the awards, needless to say, we went into this show with extremely high expectations.

Katie: What I’ve noticed about going to SHN shows is that the production value is so high and the actors are so talented that even if it’s not an amazingly written show it’s always really entertaining. Always.

Brittany: It’s true. Once is so interesting. It was more like real life, which means depressing. At the end I definitely was left saying “Wait that’s it? That’s the end?” No happy ending here. Which I guess is refreshing because most Broadway shows are tied up in 2 hours.

K: Yeah, tied up in a pretty bow with a happy ending and we are left with a dun dun dun di di di dun di di. Not Once. But what beautiful music and amazing talent.

B: It’s really music anyone would like. I would listen to it with someone who didn’t like show tunes and I wouldn’t be embarrassed.

K: One thing that I struggled with was the format of the show. The fact that the set was a pub, but even though we are in a realistic pub setting it’s used mostly as other locations, like the vacuum shop, the music store, his house. It would have worked better for me if the set was not a specific place. I thought they were going to be a little more creative with turning this movie into a musical but instead they grabbed moments from the movie and threw it awkwardly on a stage designed as a pub. Luckily the actors and the music were so good that was enough to make it work. But for me I don’t think it was an example of great writing or a well constructed musical.

B: They really did themselves a disservice by having such a detailed set behind them which made it harder for your imagination to transform it into other things. It was a beautiful set though.

K: Really beautiful, really detailed. Just not needed. I thought they were going to take the story and the music from the movie and present it in a different, a very creative, theatery way, which didn’t exactly happen.

B: I’ve never seen the movie so I didn’t come in with certain expectations or context. It took me a little bit to get into the staging, but they were good enough actors that midway through the first act it worked for me. I did really like the stylized movement.

K: I just feel that they should of taken it further. I mean there is already a movie. I can sit in my living room and watch the movie. What is going to make me want to see this on stage? And it’s that, it’s the stylized movement, it’s the musicians – who did a really good job – that’s why I’m going to want to see it live.

B: And I think when they went there it was really good. All of the musicians were amazing. I do wonder how I would be feeling if I saw the movie.

K: I think you would have had a different perspective. The production was really well done though. It was a concert with a story. The lead girl was so good. Her voice was almost like a violin. So beautiful. Loved how the lead guy would get crazy on the guitar. The music definitely makes it worth going.

The Verdict:
Once is a great night out. The actors are super impressive. As always SHN brings through a tour with Broadway level sets and production values.

The Drama Talk:
While some of us struggle to walk and text at the same time, these actors act, sing, play the accordion, change the set and dance in front of an audience of 100′s all without skipping a beat. If you haven’t seen the movie, wait. The play doesn’t elaborate as much on the film as we may have liked, so if you can keep the plot a surprise, you may enjoy the show more.

Drinks:
This production offers a special opportunity to go onstage before the show and during intermission to have a drink, so we did just that. Brittany had a beer and Katie had a chardonnay. As we were sipping our beverages, that were served in a plastic SHN sippy cup, actors came onstage and started playing music . . . right next to us . . . in arms reach. A really cool experience worth the really expensive unremarkable drinks. You don’t need to get a drink to be on the stage though, just get to the theater early since they limit the number of people allowed on stage at a time.

Once runs through 7/15 at the the Curran Theatre, and tickets can be purchased through their website. Ticket prices vary from $65-$210 depending on where you sit.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Pen/Man/Ship

Katie & Brittany saw the new show at the Magic, and it sounds pretty compelling. Also, good title.

PEN/MAN/SHIP
by Christina Anderson
directed by Ryan Purcell

1896: the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. A father and son board a ship heading for Africa on a mysterious mission with an opinionated young woman. On the open sea, an unexpected detour resurrects family secrets and reveals true intentions, fundamentally changing the course of their journey and their lives forever. Magic is delighted to celebrate the return of playwright Christina Anderson, “whose work will be transforming America’s Stages for decades to come” (American Theatre Magazine) after her term as our 2011 Playwright in Residence.

Despite our weariness when it comes to trekking to the Marina, we keep going back to Magic Theatre at Fort Mason because they consistently produce inventive and professional shows. They might not always be to our taste, but they are always in good taste. As we overheard another patron say as we entered “Magic Theater is where you go when you want to see real theater.” The world premiere of Pen/Man/Ship by Christina Anderson stayed true to this trend.

Katie: I was entertained, I was invested in the characters, I wasn’t blown away, but I liked it. It was an intense story that was on the sad side, but it was really well done.

Brittany: I liked it too. It felt a little long though, especially the first act. It’s funny because most the time when shows don’t have an intermission it bothers me and I’m like “Ahh, give me a break, I need a break.” This is a show I feel like could have been cut down with no ill effect and done without an intermission. We lost a chunk of audience members at intermission, which is too bad for them because I thought the second act was really strong.

K: Yeah, It had really slow start but it picked up at the second act. The second act was intense. Overall, they cast really great actors and had an amazingly inventive set, lighting design and costumes.

B: It was set in an interesting time period, during the time of Jim Crow laws, after the emancipation of slaves, but slavery is still really fresh in a lot of people’s minds. The show took an interesting look at the hierarchy within the African American community, which doesn’t often get talked about in theater. Although it was definitely a show grappling with the African American experience, a lot of the themes and family drama it explored told a universal story too.

The Verdict: If you love drama this show doesn’t hold back in that department. Go see it, and stay for the second act. It takes a while for the story to warm up, but once it gets going it gets powerful.

The Drama Talk: Overall an entertaining, intense, well told story about a different time. As usual Magic doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to design. An impressive set, lighting and sound give the small cast just enough to set the scene, without distracting from their raw performances, especially the knockout performance by Adrian Roberts who played Charles.

The Drinks: If you haven’t been to Fort Mason’s Off the Grid on Friday nights this show is a great excuse to check it out. Grab a bite before the show and a drink and do some skee ball after the show. It really makes for an entertaining Friday night out. The night we went was pretty chilly, it’s almost Summer after all, so we both got warm spiced wine and stood under a heat lamp (of which there were plenty) while discussing the completely different world and time we just experienced.

Pen/Man/Ship runs through 6/15 at the the Magic Theatre, and tickets can be purchased through their website. Ticket prices vary from $20-$60 depending on where you sit.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Mr. Irresistible

Interview edition! Here’s Brittany and Katie’s report:

A few days after Brittany attended a Jazzy-Hip-Hop dance class at City Dance, a review request came across the DT&D desk (aka email) for a new musical, Mr. Irresistible, by D’Arcy Drollinger & Christopher Winslow. Still sore from all the booty-popping, Brittany recognized D’Arcy’s name as her fabulous dance instructor. We decided this would be the perfect opportunity to do a pre-show chat and get our groove on. So we donned our spandex and leg warmers, and went to D’Arcy’s Sunday Skool Sexitude dance class. After an hour and a half of sexitudeiness, we sat down with D’Arcy to get the scoop on his new show Mr. Irresistible that opens tonight!

Brittany: How did Mr. Irresistible come to be?

D’Arcy Drollinger: When I first moved to New York, I had a dare going with my friend. She was going to write a novel in 45 days, and I was going to write a full musical in 45 days, and so that’s actually when I started writing Mr. Irresistible, early in ’98. Flash forward to about a year ago, I had been talking with the artistic director at ODC, and I told her about this show I had never completed, and she liked the idea, so I began an artist residency at ODC. At the time I was also working on a different piece with Christopher Winslow, the composer of this show, a musical parody of Flowers in the Attic. So I asked him if he wanted to take a break from that and work on Mr. Irresistible. We spent six months tearing apart the old show, rewriting the songs and putting it back together. After readings at ODC, La Mama offered us a two week workshop in New York, which sold out, then we got a letter from SFAC that we got a seed grant to produce the show here and add in a lot more of the video elements, so we started looking for a theater.

Katie: Tell us a little about the show.

D’Arcy: This show starts as a real traditional musical, and then about ⅓ the way through it, it turns into a horror musical, when Mr. Irresistible starts killing everyone because he doesn’t understand metaphor. At the end, it turns into The Terminator, an action thriller with laser fights. It gets a little dark and heavy, but it’s still a happy ending.

K: I hate to be the person who asks this, but are there “concessions”?

D’Arcy: There are drinks, people can can buy booze before the show, and during intermission. Unfortunately it can’t come into the theater.

B: You’ve worked and lived in NY and SF, but made SF your homebase, how’s it working out for you?  Is this a viable place to make a career as an actor or artist?

D’Arcy: I was born in San Francisco, and then in junior high we moved to Nevada City, so I grew up there. I came back to SF for college at SF State, then a few years after college I was transferred to New York for work. New York is such an industry. I was missing the lifestyle here. The food, the mellow pace. I love New York, especially for the theater and the dance, but it has been better for me to be a Bay Area local artist. I have a community here that rallies around what I do. I think that’s the great thing about San Francisco audiences, they really rally around things. I’ve been making a decent living here making theater, which is CRAZY. If I didn’t know anybody here, I don’t think this would be the first place I would come to do theater. As I’m sure you know, in the last couple years this place has become so expensive and so many small venues have had to close. But there’s a lot of community support that’s hard to get like somewhere in New York.

K: What do you think about the future of theater and arts in San Francisco?

D’Arcy: I wish places like Google and Twitter would invest in more nightlife experiences for people that work for them that aren’t just bars. To keep this as a first class city we can’t destroy the downtown underground arts scene, and only have the big touring shows and a bunch of bars and nothing in between. People want hip stuff to do. I did a lot to make Rebel into a cabaret space, because there wasn’t anything like that, and now someone bought the building and is turning it into condos. I’m working very hard with some partners to create a cabaret space within a bar, where we can have a little more security knowing the building won’t be sold out from under us. But we need more viable nightlife, and a place for smaller productions.

B: What is your hope for Mr. Irresistible next?

D’Arcy: I’ve done nine musicals, and in a way this feels like my most commercial venture. It’s wacky, it has the love story, the thriller aspect, you’ve got your gay characters, you’ve got your drag queens, you’ve got Joey the Exterminator who the straight guys can identify with, it’s got the Sci-Fi aspect so all the Sci-Fi nerds can geek out on that. I could see this being a fun regional show. Start with a bigger production here, and then tour it, but with San Francisco roots. I can’t wait to show it to everyone. I feel so fortunate.

 

Mr. Irresistible runs June 4 – 8, 2014, Wednesday – Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sunday at 7:00 pm at the Alcazar Theatre (650 Geary St. in SF). Tickets are $25 each and can be purchased on the Mr. Irresistible eventbrite page. There are also half priced tickets available on Goldstar. Even if you can’t make it out to this show, make sure to check out one of D’Arcy’s incredibly fun sex-positive dance classes, or another one of his many upcoming shows.

Show love for your Bay Area actors, and do your part to keep SF a first-class arts city.

 

 

Drama Talk & Drinks: 36 Stories by Sam Shepard

Fun DT&D fact: Katie, Brittany and I work together at BAYCAT, and one of the most famous shots in cinema history, the hallway shot from The Right Stuff, was shot in the hallway right outside our door. Legend goes that Walter Murch (personal hero of mine) was editing right here in the Dogpatch’s Northern AIC building, and they needed a pick up shot of the astronauts walking in slo-mo to really capture the gravitas. I did a little comparison as “proof” back in 2006, with myself as a piss poor stand in for the mightiest of hero shots.

Anyway, Sam Shepard was nominated for an Oscar® for his role in that film, as Chuck Yeager, the first human to break the sound barrier. Last week Katie & Brittany saw the Magic’s newest take on Shepard’s works. Here’s their report:

Sam Shepard, playwright, actor, director and Patti-Smith-ex, is turning 70. As part of Magic Theatre’s “Sheparding America” festival (Shepard was a playwright in residence at the Magic Theatre in the 70’s), Bay Area theaters are producing a series of shows that celebrate this great American playwright. While other productions are honoring Shepard by performing his plays, Word for Word member Amy Kossow decided to do something a little different. Taking a year to sift through five of Mr. Shepard’s collections of short stories, Kossow created 36 Stories by Sam Shepard, which weaves together Sam Shepard’s shorts about America’s desert highways into a single piece about a writer’s struggle as he searches for inspiration.

Word for Word’s production of 36 Stories by Sam Shepard, at Z Below 5/21/14 through 6/22/14. L to R: Carl Lumbly, Rod Gnapp. Photo by Mark Leialoha

The Writer (Rod Gnapp) has a philosophical discussion with the spirit of the severed head (Carl Lumbly).

Brittany: It was artsy, so I liked it. But, I thought the way the piece was constructed was a bit problematic. It was essentially a play about about a writers’ struggle, but I didn’t care as much about the writer’s struggle, as I cared about the stories he was telling. All the actors were great, and I thought the piece as a whole was really well done. Rod Gnapp did an amazing job with a character I didn’t think was compelling. But it was a little hard to stay fully engaged when the stories kept switching. That being said, I thought it was a really good production, and some of the actors’ individual performances were really remarkable, especially getting to see their range as they played different roles.

Katie: The actors were great but that didn’t help me to care about what was happening. It just didn’t work for me. I don’t know Brittany….I guess I just don’t get it because I just don’t understand how this is entertaining…maybe I just don’t know Sam Shepard enough. The set and the staging were good though. The actor who played guitar was really good and really cute. They should have just turned Sam Shepard’s short stories into songs and he could of just been on stage the whole time singing. I’d be into that shit.

B: I would say if you are interested in seeing a very well acted series of stories, you should go.

K: I would say skip this one.

The Verdict: If you enjoy poetic language and are interested in seeing it very well acted out in a series of stories, this is the show for you. If you know, and like, Sam Shepard’s writing, this is the show for you. If neither of those things apply, this is not the show for you.

The Drama Talk: This is a Bay Area all-star cast. It was well staged, and well performed. Word for Word does plays word-for-word, this means reading stage directions as well, so be prepared for that. Although Shepard’s stories themselves are intriguing, the piece which is used to tie them together is not as strong as its parts.

The Drinks: Everything Sam Shepard writes is a little dark, so after an evening of All-American ennui, we decided to go in for some All-American fun and check out Urban Putt. Brittany got the Seasonal Shandy and Katie got a Calimocho (red wine and Coke, classy), and we watched the many revelers (who waited in line for over an hour on a Wednesday to play putt-putt) take in a Bay Area fantasyland.

36 Stories by Sam Shepard runs through 6/22 at the Z Below, and tickets can be purchased through their website. Ticket prices vary from $30-$55 depending on how close you are to the stage, but it’s a small theater so any seat is good. There are also ½ price tickets available on Goldstar.

Drama Talk & Drinks: The Habit of Art

Brittany & Katie went to a show at Z-Below, and they seemed to have appreciated it, though not quite to the point of actual enjoyment . . .

Pictured left to right: Tamar Cohn as Kay, Craig Souza as Carpenter, Donald Currie as Auden, Justin Lucas as Stuart, Kathryn Wood as George, and John Fisher as Britten in The Habit of Art by Alan Bennett, directed by John Fisher, a Theatre Rhinoceros production at Z Below
Photo by Kent Taylor.

Theater Rhinoceros, the (self-proclaimed) oldest queer theater in America, has a mission to “produce works of theatre that enlighten, enrich, and explore both the ordinary and extraordinary aspects of our queer community.” Although the description of Allen Bennett’s play The Habit of Art about British poet, W. H. Auden, and British composer Benjamin Britten, didn’t have us rushing to the box office, we were intrigued to see if the playwright who brought us The History Boys had an equally witty and enlightening take on what could be a very dry topic. So we returned to one of our favorite mission theater venues, Z-Below, to see what Theater Rhino had in store.

Brittany: It was very arty. The whole play within a play thing was interesting, but despite some strong actors, I don’t think they made the play within a play thing work. Some of my favorite moments were when they pulled back to the focus on the rehearsal, so I enjoyed it as a device, but they didn’t real nail it for me.

Katie: I really struggled through the first act, especially when they were acting like actors that didn’t know their lines and standing up there with scripts. I think the actors did the best with what they were given, but sometimes they would go in and out of their English accents and that was a little distracting to me. Jumping in and out of the play to the “rehearsal” gave me whiplash.

B: I think the other thing that’s hard is that the play they were rehearsing wasn’t a very good play, at least in my opinion. I really liked the woman who played the stage manager though (Tamar Cohn), she was great and her monologue at the end was really touching.

K: I wouldn’t say it was a bad production, I just feel that this show is for a theater person. If I sent my non-theater-going friends to this show they would never trust me again.

B: Yeah, some of the most charming jokes or scenes were the ones that were so specific that non-theater people wouldn’t get them. Definitely not a show for everyone.

 

The Verdict: If you’re a theater person, you’ll probably find the play within a play element of this show intriguing, and you’ll get all the rehearsal related jokes. If you’re familiar with W.H. Auden or Benjamin Britten, you’ll probably find this insight into their relationship, and their personal lives, interesting. Otherwise, skip it, this probably is not the show for you.

The Drama Talk: The play within the play is full of poetry, music and theatricality. An interesting story about two aging artists, no longer in their prime, and the young men who helped feed their artistic temperament (AKA male prostitutes and pre-pubescent choir boys). Jumping between the story found in the play, and the rehearsal of that play, made the emotional through line fall short (as Katie said, whiplash inducing). The rehearsal elements of the show, however, are some of the most endearing and are definitely where the humor is found. Despite some strong actors, and a well designed set that makes the sometimes cramped theater feel much bigger, this piece falls into the category of only-for-the-artsy-types.

The Drinks: We went to nearby Benders for their free afternoon Sunday BBQ. Brittany got a dirty martini (since they were drinking martinis during the show) and Katie got her usual rum and coke. What better way to unpack an highbrow play than with some lowbrow BBQ.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Drama Talk & Drinks: The Speakeasy

We’ve been running Katie & Brittany‘s after-show drama talk for almost a year and I had yet to accompany them for a performance. Last week I was finally able to tag along for The Speakeasy, a new experiential performance in the Tenderloin. Here’s our report:

 

[photo by Peter Liu]

We’d heard a buzz about a unique underground club and theater in the Tenderloin. The folks at Boxcar Theatre have been working on an immersive theater piece that places audiences in the middle of 1920’s San Francisco. Speakeasy has lots of intrigue surrounding it, from the undisclosed location, to the interwoven stories being performed by embedded actors throughout the space. It was enticing enough to get our fearless leader, Ariel, out with us for a night of Drama Talk & Drinks.

Ariel: I loved that it was a world you could be in and not just be a passive audience member. I think they did a really good job of taking me to that place. To go from seeing them on the stage to a space where you could see the behind the scenes drama . . . it was amazing, I just wanted to go back and forth all night. (Ed. note: there was a space where you could spy on the dressing room through a one-way mirror)

Brittany: It was very cool. It was the ultimate in FOMO though. I kept wondering what was going on somewhere else. “Oh my god, there’s a noise in the other room should I be over there?”.

A: Did that bother you? I liked that about it.

B: I guess it bothered me in that I thought, what if I’m not getting everything I’m supposed to get out of the show?

Katie: That is exactly how I felt and I would say that it did bother me. I was trying to enjoy what was happening in front of me but I couldn’t get out of my mind “What’s going on in the other rooms?” Then there was that moment where we were supposed to follow the girl in the red dress and everyone got up and tried to follow her, but since everyone did that there was a bottleneck and we couldn’t get into the other room because of all the people. And I’m someone who doesn’t like crowds.

A: What made me enjoy it more was that the world wasn’t just propped up for me to see but the idea that this world is all around me and I’m just in it. I feel like if I walked into the room and the other rooms went dark it wouldn’t have felt totally immersive. But the idea that I could walk away from you guys and see something else and you guys are seeing something that I’m not seeing . . . It didn’t bother me that I didn’t see the whole story, I liked that about it. It’s just like regular life, we all got our different part of the story.

K: I don’t know, I live “regular life” enough, sometimes I just wanna go to a show and fucking be entertained. I’m in life twenty-fo-seven, I gotta pay $60 to feel life’s disappointments – the 1920’s version?

B: But this life has cool costumes.

K: That’s true.

(more…)

Drama Talk & Drinks: Hir

The subject of one’s Preferred Gender Pronoun is finally getting some mainstream attention right now. Facebook announced today that it will allow many more gender options for self identification in profiles, and late last year A-gender teen Sasha Fleishman bravely spoke out after their attack on a bus by a classmate. The Magic Theatre’s new show Hir (pronounced like “here”) tackles gender identity, and from the sound of it, a whole lot more. Here’s the report from Katie & Brittany:

 

When we saw that the Magic Theatre was putting on a show called Hir we were intrigued. Armed with little more than Magic’s description “Newly enlightened Paige is determined to forge a deliriously liberated world for her two wayward children: Isaac, on leave from the Marines under dubious circumstances; and Max, tender, jaded, and sculpting a third-sex gender identity for hirself.” We braved the rainiest Sunday in recent memory for some Drama Talk & Drinks.

Brittany: I think Magic Theatre likes to say “fuck you” to its’ audiences.

Katie: I agree, I left that show with less hope for life than I did walking into it.

B: Which is not to say it was a bad show. It was a very well done show. But it was SO depressing.

K: It was depressing, but at the same time refreshing. I thought it was fascinating to see how far they could go with a dysfunctional family. The writing was really good, and the show had good pacing.

B: The first act of the play was a little too wordy for me. I felt like I was in a gender studies class, but maybe some audience members need a gender studies class for the play to make sense.

K: Sometimes it did get a little preachy, but overall, good writing, well acted, and an amazing tragic ending. I’m struggling with finding words for it, because it was well executed, I was moved and entertained, but I don’t think I would want to go through that again.

B: In the Director’s notes they talk a lot about the similarities between Hir, and Sam Shepard’s Buried Child (which we reviewed at Magic earlier this season). I feel very similarly now, to the way I felt walking out of that Buried Child. I feel moved, which is to say disturbed, and impressed by what Magic was able to create. At the same time, I don’t know if I would tell everyone I know to go and see it because it is such an unsettling piece.

K: I felt like I was in good hands with those actors, and the director and writer. I don’t have any negative notes for them, I enjoyed the lighting, staging, pacing . . . everything.

B: The actor who played the father (Mark Anderson Phillips), was remarkable. All the actors were good, but his physicality throughout the show was so spot on. That was such a hard role, and to see him throughout the play so debilitated, and then at curtain call as a totally normal person was impressive.

K: I really liked the mother (Nancy Opel) too. I thought she was really complex. I could imagine her as a submissive Mom, who has now gone a little batty and become empowered. She handled that character really well. If there are people who want to see creative, reimagined theatre, that hits you in the face hard, this is a good play to go to.

B: People should definitely go see it, just be aware you might want to drink heavily afterwards.

 

The Verdict: Go see this show. Although we both left with a bleaker outlook on the world than when we entered, it’s the sort of bleakness that makes you think, which is what good theatre is all about.

The Drama Talk: Magic is correct when it identifies Taylor Mac as “one of this country’s most heroic and disarmingly funny playwrights.” This play is disarming. From lights up on a man in a woman’s night gown in clown make up, to an end that leaves you feeling despondent, this play breaks lots of new ground. Magic and its cast pull off this complex show beautifully.

The Drinks: We went to a 7pm show on a rainy Sunday night, so the first place we tried had actually closed early. We ended up at Bullitt Bar on Polk. Katie got bubbly, since they keep talking about drinking non-alcoholic bubbly during the show, and Brittany got a spicy margarita, so her mouth would hurt as much as her soul after seeing such a depressing play.

Hir runs through February 23, at The Magic Theatre in Fort Mason. Shows are starting to sell out, so if you want to see this show before it closes you should get your tickets soon. Tickets for Hir are available through the Magic Theatre online box office and range from $20-$60 depending on seating.

Drama Talk & Drinks: The Big, Buttery Sketch Show

As promised, here is Katie & Brittany‘s report from PianoFight’s new sketch show. This time they brought their boyfriends along:

After some changes in relationship status, and with Valentine’s day around the corner, we were looking for an opportunity to do Drama Talk & Drinks: Double Date Edition, and we finally found the perfect show. PianoFight’s female-driven sketch comedy group, Chardonnay, was premiering “The Big, Buttery Sketch Show”. With guest appearances from Uni and Her Ukelele and stand-up comedian Mary Van Note, we thought this estrogen filled evening would be a great place for a pre-Valentine’s day date night. After lots of drinks, and lots of laughs, here are all of our thoughts:

Garrett (Katie’s Date): So was Uni on the Ukulele the best part or was that just me?

Brittany: I think that was just you, Garrett. She’s super creative but it ruined the arc, I felt like she brought down the energy of the show.

Katie: Agreed.

Garrett: Well, it was more real than the rest of it . . . it was soulful and cute and engaging. I didn’t think the rest of the show was very well done. If SNL had the same concepts they would have delivered it better. The show was cute and fun but the execution wasn’t there.

Sam (Brittany’s Date): The execution is what got me – I was laughing the whole time. Even some of the sketches that were a little off, like that postman sketch, that was eventually hilarious. It just took a while to hit its stride. A lot of the scenes had to build up like that.

Katie: So was the guest comedian the best part of that show or was that just me? The sketches weren’t as funny as I was expecting . . . but I think I went in with too high expectations.

Brittany: I think the stand up girl was funny in a perfectly awkward way. But, the guy who played Putin and the DJ (David Lavine) was the funniest actor in the entire show. The comedy the ladies wrote for him was great, but his acting outshined the woman. The ladies had moments where they were hella on, but not one of them nailed a character like he did. I had a fun time, and that’s really what I’m looking for out of sketch comedy, so I’d say go.

Sam: The trick to good comedy – get drinks before, during and after the show.

The Score:
6.5 from Katie and Garrett
9.0 from Brittany and Sam

The Verdict: This show is a good time and a great (double) date night. They have two more shows, this Friday and Saturday. Although there are currently still tickets available, the show we went to looked sold out, so you probably want to buy these soon. Impress your date with your local theater knowledge and get your tickets for a fun-filled Valentine’s weekend date.

The Drama Talk: Get to EXIT Theater a little early so you can get drinks at the bar to bring into the theater with you. This is sketch, it’s better with a few drinks.

The Drinks: We took our dates just a block away to Mikkeller. They had a great beer and wine selection plus food, which was great because 4 drinks deep we felt like some french fries. Brittany and Sam shared a Saison Winter, Garrett ordered a Galaxy White IPA and Katie stuck with a glass of white wine.

You can check out the show this weekend, February 14 and 15, at 8pm at EXIT Theatre.
Tickets are $20 for General Admission, $12 for groups of 5+ people and $30 for VIP tickets, which include best seating and a special Chardonnay gift.