Drama Talk & Drinks: The Phantom of the Opera – “No means no”

If you grew up in the 80s and 90s, and in a family that encouraged an interest in the theatre, you probably saw The Phantom of the Opera. We both did, several times, and when we heard there was a new tour of it coming to SHN’s Orpheum Theater we were interested to see how it aged. Could it still be as mind-blowingly cool as we remembered? Or, does Andrew Lloyd Webber actually suck, as we’ve been told as adults, although we secretly refuse to believe it. What better way to confront the realities of our youth than a night of Drama Talk and Drinks?

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Brittany: Man, Phantom of the Opera…

Katie: It’s so different from what I remember as a kid.

B: It was beautiful, and an amazing spectacle, but it’s sooo creepy. Was it always that creepy?

K: I don’t remember it being that creepy.

B: Maybe as a kid I didn’t get all the weird sexual undertones the Phantom is giving off, but he’s a spooky dude. He was a stalker, kidnapper, murderer, and although it didn’t happen on stage, I’m pretty sure a rapist. Or at least aspirationally a rapist.

K: Yeah, he had a really unhealthy obsession with Christine.

B: I thought he was just a scary looking guy, not a maniac.

K: Yeah, I remember him being misunderstood. In my childhood memory he was just an abused kid, who wanted to make music, and to be accepted for who he was. I don’t remember him being so sick and abusive.

B: Yeah, in the last scene the way he pinned her to the bed was really violent. Like there should have been trigger warnings. No means no.

K: Seriously, no means no, Phantom. But even though the story was way darker than I remember, the crazy sets, and flashy costumes, the pyrotechnics, and falling chandeliers made it an amazingly enjoyable time. Maybe even a better time than I thought it would be. Even though it was lots of song and dance and musical theatre-ness, the story was kind of dysfunctional, which I like.

B: It’s still Phantom, the music is the same, it just felt a little different watching it as an adult.

K: Yeah, I was super entertained, just oddly uncomfortable.

The Verdict: This tour is as good as The Phantom of the Opera can be, although maybe slightly creepier than you remember it as a child. It’s got all the flash, fog, and fabulous costumes you expect from a Broadway tour, and a formidable cast that can really make the complexities in the score shine. As long as you like this play, or at the very least like big blockbuster musicals, you’ll enjoy this.

The Drama Talk: If you’re a child of 80s musical theater, you probably grew up on Phantom, and know if you can tolerate another Andrew Lloyd Webber show or not. If you can, this show will not disappoint. After all these years it still kept us engaged and awed with it’s impressive spectacle. If you don’t know The Phantom of The Opera, a word of caution, it is named that for a reason, it’s kind of Opera-y. Be prepared for some trills and most of the show being sung. If that doesn’t scare you away, you’ll probably have a great time, but you really do need to be okay with operatic musicals to enjoy this classic.

The Drinks: Always looking for new bars nearish the theater, we decided to check out Forgery, a fancy cocktail bar that opened a couple months ago on Mission. Brittany got the Delicious Sour, and Katie got a Cool Runnings, and we toasted to a creepy night of revisiting childhood favorites.

The Phantom of the Opera runs through October 4th at SHN’s Orpheum Theater. Tickets can be purchased directly through their website, but if you’re looking for a deal they do have a Rush for this show as well. A limited number of $40 tickets are available beginning 2 hours prior to curtain at the SHN Orpheum Theatre Box Office- cash only – 2 per-person. Goldstar also currently has a few performances available at $75/seat.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Breaking the Code: The Alan Turing Story – “This is nothing like the movie”

We missed Theatre Rhinoceros’ production of Breaking the Code: The Alan Turing Story the first time around, so when it returned this month for a short engagement after great reviews for the first run we thought we have to check it out. So off we went for a night of Drama Talk & Drinks in FiDi.

Brittany: If you saw the movie “The Imitation Game”, which is also based on the life of Alan Turing, I think you’ll be surprised because this is nothing like the movie. I’m sure it’s a matter of Hollywood making something more dramatic than it actually was, but the story in the movie was much more exciting. Maybe this is more realistic, but it’s not as entertaining.

Katie: I haven’t seen the movie, but the show was slow. When I was studying to be a director I was told to not direct a show you are staring in. As much as I love John Fisher, I feel like this show proved why. When you are both the star and the director it’s hard for you to see when pacing is off. There was no momentum, so despite some talented actors and a few lovely moments it just didn’t keep me engaged.

B: Yeah, the pacing was slow; made worse by wonky scene transitions, costume issues and the fact that the actors were struggling with their British accents. I’m a bit of a stickler for dialect so if it’s off it super bugs me. Also it drives me crazy when there are set pieces the actors make no reference to. There were chalk boards with all these equations on them and they were never used. Random theatre pet peeves of mine, but still they frustrated me.

The Verdict: Have you seen “The Imitation Game”? Did you enjoy it? Yes, then this play may be a bit dry for you. Are you an Alan Turing history buff who cares more about the real-life struggles of the man than Hollywood drama? You may enjoy it, but don’t come tired, we saw a few fellow (albeit older) audience members who may fit this description sneaking naps during the show.

The Drama Talk: We really love John Fisher’s (the Executive Director of Theatre Rhinoceros) work and thought he would play a great Alan Turing. After seeing the play, we weren’t surprised to find out that we were right, John Fisher is impressive, but we were surprised to have to ask “So, why did they do this play again?” Though we think that directing a show you also star in is usually not a smart move, this play’s story is so disjointed we are not sure if even a devoted director could have saved it. The combination of a poorly written script and some technical and pacing issues made an extraordinary man’s life not very engaging.

The Drinks: We went from one piece of history to another. One block from the Eureka Theatre is the oldest bar in San Francisco (it’s true, here is a list to prove it) called The Old Ship Saloon. It’s relatively updated at this point but still feels like a relaxed dive bar. Especially since late-night options are few and far between in this neighborhood it’s a great place to go to debrief after the show.

Breaking the Code: The Alan Turing Story runs through August 29th at the Eureka Theatre. Tickets are available on the Theatre Rhinoceros website through Brown Paper Tickets for $25-$30.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Freedomland – “Black Lives Matter”

It’s hard to talk about the history of theater in San Francisco without talking about SF Mime Troupe. So we were pumped when we saw the notice for this summer’s show Freedomland, since DT&D hadn’t had a chance to review one of their plays yet. First just to clarify – SF Mime Troupe is not silent. As their website explains:

The San Francisco Mime Troupe does not do pantomime. We mean ‘mime’ in the ancient sense: to mimic. We are satirists, seeking to make you laugh at the absurdities of contemporary life, and at the same time see their causes. We travel the country and the world with our message of solidarity, comedy, and the plight of the worker in our increasingly corporatized democracy, and have done shows about most of the burning issues of our time – normally debunking the official story. And because we want our shows about the issues of the day to be seen by the people who are most effected by those issues- working class families who can’t always afford to the ticket prices at the other Tony award winning theaters – we perform most of our shows free in public parks, for tens of thousands of our fellow citizens every summer.

So off we went, to join our fellow San Franciscans for a night of Drama Talk & Drinks!

 

(l-r) Lisa Hori-Garcia (Emily Militis), Michael Gene Sullivan (Malcolm Haywood), Hugo E Carbajal (Cop), Keith Arcuragi (Cop) in Freedomland. Photo: Mike@mikemelnyk.com

Katie: That was really fun to see a Mime Troupe Show! I highly respect them as a company, and it’s been years since I’ve seen one of their shows. It’s great that they still tackle very topical and important issues in their work. Nothing is more timely right now than the Black Lives Matter movement.

Brittany: One of my favorite theater genres is social justice theater. I’ve always dug the work that was done during the WPA. Unions and political groups using the stage to pass on revolutionary messages through humor and art. I really appreciate that SF Mime Troupe is keeping that kind of theater alive.

K: At times though, it felt like they took a complex issue and oversimplified it. There were some talented actors, but in trying to create such one-dimensional examples of bad-guys and good-guys, they limited the complexity of the characters.

B: I guess that’s one of the failings of this kind of theater. I wasn’t expecting complex character arcs, so I wasn’t disappointed.

K: True, I guess I just don’t prefer this kind of theater, but it was well done. I appreciate that this piece choose to show us long-term institutionalized injustices that compound over the course of a black person’s life. Systemic injustices that they endure over and over again, and then when they’re stressed, or fed-up, or what have you, they finally stand up for their rights and that’s when the events escalate to make an otherwise ordinary oppressive encounter turn deadly.

B: I liked that they were blunt, that it didn’t have a happy ending like most musicals, and that they didn’t try to sugarcoat it, while they still somehow made it funny. The only thing I do wish is that there was a better call to action at the end. At the end of the play I wish the audience had jumped to their feet and had started chanting Black Lives Matter, because they were so moved by the injustices they saw on stage. I feel like that should be the ultimate goal of this sort of piece, and the audience just didn’t get there – they clapped – they were possibly intellectually moved – but they didn’t take to the streets. It didn’t have quite the oomph, or the solution. I guess there isn’t an easy solution, but I wish there was.

The Verdict: Who doesn’t love a day in the park? Who doesn’t love free theater? SF Mime Troupe’s Freedomland allows you to enjoy both, while being funny, topical and maybe even a bit revolutionary. Go see it when it comes to a park near you!

The Drama Talk: They did a good job of using humor to lighten up what could be an incredibly heavy topic and made it accessible. The actors are uniformly talented, and for such a small cast (only 4 people) they convincingly play a wide variety of very different characters. The music is good, as is the band, but you don’t really leave this show humming a tune. It’s a show that makes you think, which is one of the best things theater can do.

The Drinks: Since this show is normally in a park, we suggest BYOB (when allowed), but since we saw the show at the SF Mime Troupe space, we availed ourselves of the vino there.

Freedomland runs through September 7th, so even though we’re nearly halfway through the run, you still have time. Nearly all of the performances are donation based, so while you should totally throw SF Mime Troupe a few to keep this great company going strong, you can just show up. Even thought the show we saw was in the SF Mime Troupe space, nearly all the rest are outside in parks all over the Bay Area and beyond. You can check out the SF Mime Troupe website for more details, but here’s a list of the remaining shows this summer:

Frances Willard/Ho Chi Minh Park
Sat, Aug 8th @ 2:00 PM (Music 1:30)
Sun, Aug 9th @ 2:00 PM (Music 1:30)
Hillegass Ave. & Derby St., Berkeley

San Lorenzo Park
Sat, Aug 15th @ 3:00 PM (Music 2:30)
Sun, Aug 16th @ 3:00 PM (Music 2:30)
San Lorenzo Park, Santa Cruz
Post-show discussion after 8/15/15. No dogs, alcohol, or smoking allowed in park.

Glen Park
Sat, Aug 22nd @ 2:00 PM (Music 1:30)
Bosworth & O’Shaughnessy, San Francisco

Mitchell Park, South Field
Sun, Aug 23rd @ 4:00 PM (Music 3:30)
600 East Meadow Drive & Cowper Street, Palo Alto

St. James Park
Tue, Aug 25th @ 6:30 PM (Music 6:00)
3rd Street & E. St. James Street, San Jose

Miners Foundry – Parking Lot
Fri, Aug 28th @ 7:30 PM (Music 7:00)
325 Spring Street, Nevada City
Ticket Info: http://www.minersfoundry.org/buy-tickets/

Southside Park, Bandshell
Sat, Aug 29th @ 5:00 PM (Music 4:30)
6th & T St., Sacramento

Community Park
Sun, Aug 30th @ 7:00 PM (Music 6:30)
East 14th & F St., Davis

Bay View Opera House, Outdoor Plaza
Wed, Sep 2nd @ 6:30 PM (Music 6:00)
Bay View Opera House, San Francisco

Peacock Meadow in Golden Gate Park
Sat, Sep 5th @ 2:00 PM (Music 1:30)
JFK Drive & Peacock Meadow, San Francisco Btwn Panhandle and Conservatory of Flowers

Dolores Park
Sun, Sep 6th @ 2:00 PM (Music 1:30)
Mon, Sep 7th @ 2:00 PM (Music 1:30)
19th St. & Dolores St., San Francisco
Post-show discussion after 9/6/15

Drama Talk & Drinks: Interview with 3GT’s AJ Baker – “Putting women’s work onstage where it belongs!”

Beyonce tells us “Who run the world? Girls!”, but she forgets about the theater world…and the film world…and the business world when she prematurely asserts feminism’s victory. Only roughly 20% of plays produced nationally are written by women, which is technically more then the number of female written screenplays, but still a pretty paltry representation for half the human population. So when we found out about 3 Girls Theatre (3GT) new works festival that is dedicated to presenting works by female playwrights, we wanted to find out more. We got to sit down with 3GT’s Founder, Artistic Director and Resident Playwright, AJ Baker to learn more about the company and their festival which opens this week at Thick House.

Katie: Why did you originally start Three Girls Theater?

AJ: Only 20% of mainstream theater that is produced is written by women, and that’s across the board, that’s not just Broadway. It’s very hard for women to get work produced. My partners and I thought, we need to stop complaining about this and do something. You can’t just sit around and wait for the culture to change, you have to be a change agent.

Brittany: Be the change, as they say.

A: We are facing such a gigantic cultural bias against the voice of women. If it’s written by a women or has issues that are considered “women’s issues” (which in reality are issues that concern everybody) for some reason it’s not viewed as important as male-written works. The perspective of a women telling a story is a human perspective, in the same way as a man telling a story is a human perspective. That’s why our tag line is “Putting women’s work onstage where it belongs”.

K: What challenges has your company faced over the past 4 years?

A: There are so many small companies in the Bay Area. This is probably one of the most vibrant cities for independent theater in the country. It’s New York, Chicago, and the Bay Area. There are just so many people competing for the same arts dollars, cannibalizing the same audience, and that I think is the real challenge. The same audience just can’t go to everything. I just want more energy, more young people to learn about this amazingly rich and wonderful cultural resource we have. So often you sit in a theater and look around you and there is just old white people. In Marin if you’re not there with your oxygen tank you feel left out. But these are the people who buy tickets, they are people who care about theater, and support it. There’s no reason theater needs to be for old people, it’s fun, it tells compelling stories, at its best it brings people together in community for a shared emotional and cultural experience. This is why I think we need to focus on expanding the audience. That’s why our festival is free.

B: How did the pieces in the festival get chosen?

A: The first 2 plays are finalists in our salon series, which is a series of 6 new plays we put up in people’s living rooms and then we have an independent panel of judges that pick 2 of the 6 that go on to be done at the festival. We also have judges for the festival who pick one piece that we will produce in full.

K: Why should people come out?

A: It’s FREE, the theater is right on Potrero Hill, there’re great restaurants nearby, you can get a glass of wine and drink while you watch, and it’s not a gigantic time commitment, none of the showings are more than 90 minutes. They start at 7:30 so you will be out around 9pm and you can still go bar hopping.

VERDICT: This is a win win situation. Support local theater, the women’s movement, and independent artists all for free. We will be there. We hope you will too.

WHAT: 3Girls Theatre Company Presents…

The 4th Annual New Works Festival

3GT Honors Risky Women: Having Fun and Wreaking Havoc!

WHERE: Thick House

1695 18th St. (between Arkansas and DeHaro)

TICKETS: FREE

But reserving tickets is recommended:

www.tinyurl.com/3GirlsTickets

WHEN: Monday, August 3 to Sunday, August 9, 2015

August 3 @ 7:30pm: Entanglement by AJ Baker

August 4 @ 7:30pm: Kicking Facebook by Margery Kreitman

August 5 @ 7:30pm: The Effects of Ultraviolet Light

August 6 @ 7:30pm: ReproRights! Women @ Risk

August 7 @ 7:30pm: Best of Lezwrites!

August 8 @ 1–6pm: Women Playwrights Meet & Greet

1pm: Kicking Facebook by Margery Kreitman

2:30pm: Entanglement by AJ Baker

4pm: Talk Back

4:30-6pm: Champagne Reception

August 9 @ 12pm & 2pm: Girl Talk Teen Monologues

*Beginning 30 minutes before each performance:

Lobby Art Exhibit. Risky Women: Wreaking Havoc!

The Dark Room is closing

Capp Street Crap reports:

Over the weekend, The Dark Room announced via its Facebook page that it will cease operations at the end of August. A follow-up comment posted this morning says that closing was a business decision and not because they lost the space. Home to standup comedy and Bad Movie Night screenings, The Dark Room’s announcement comes less than two weeks after another Mission Street venue, nearby gallery and all-ages music space Sub-Mission, shut down.

Read on for the full text of the announcement.

[Photo by Google Maps]

Drama Talk & Drinks: Project Ahab – “We are so close to you”

We are all about going on adventures. Going to Berkeley to see a show described as “A new musical about how a band of hippies, mystics and visionaries changed the world” at a historic venue known as the “little castle” definitely qualified. So this weekend DT&D saw Project Ahab; or, Eye of the Whale, which is Central Works 48th world premiere (Central Works only does world premieres so that racks up the numbers).

Photo by J. Norrena

 

Brittany: When I saw the description that it was a musical I was a little bit like “Okay, so this is like an environmentalist musical? I guess that worked for Hair?” but I was worried it was going to be kind of weird. I actually thought that the way they used music worked really well.

Katie: Some of the songs for me were really nice. The female leads were wonderful singers!

B: They did a good job with their use of AV too. It was really cool when she took a picture that it showed up as a projection.That was a really neat way to put us in a very different space.

K: The only problem was they trained us that when she took a picture, and we heard that clicking sound, a projection would show up. They would put up the projection a few times, but then they’d keep taking pictures but stop putting up the projection. I started watching the audience look after every time they heard that click, and then nothing would be there and people looked disappointed. I know I was.

B: Yeah I wish they either showed photos each time she clicked the camera or just left a photo up there if they thought it was too distracting to keep switching them.

K: The other thing that I struggled with, was their wordy monologues. I got lost. I am sure part of it was where we were sitting. They didn’t do a great job blocking for a thrust stage. There were so many times they had their back to us and we couldn’t see them, or they were blocked by another actor. It’s general admission too, so you can’t guarantee where you are going to sit unless you get there early.

B: I felt the same. They would get lost in their own monologues. The songs would move it along, and the interactions would move it along, but when a monologue started they would hit a wall. They’d go on a tangent about the clouds, and stars, and whales, which was beautiful, but it made the show lose momentum.

K: The only person that made a strong connection with other characters was Cree (Sam Jackson). There were a few scenes with her that really sucked me in. Cree was my favorite. So natural. She wasn’t up there acting at us. She was reacting to what was happening around her.

B: I would watch her in a play all day.

K: One thing they did that really “get my goat”, as they say, was the extreme slow motion fight scene. I mean, we are right here. We are so close to you. I thought they were joking at first.

B: Yeah, that was awkward . . . but with that said, I was never bored and there was actually a lot I enjoyed.

The Verdict: Do you happen to be going to Berkeley in the next few weeks and want to go to a castle like venue built in 1927 and see a world premiere of an innovative folksy musical? We found the adventure for you! If you answered no to that question, then we say this isn’t quite worth the trip. This piece had some great moments, and it was an interesting venue, but still has some kinks to work out.

The Drama Talk: This is the environmentalist musical version of Moby Dick. Instead of going after a whale, they are going after a whaling ship. Moby Dick is a hard book because it’s long and poetic. It allows itself very flowery, super descriptive, long asides. Given the fact that the playwright borrows heavily from the book’s plot, we assume they were going for similar flourishes of language as well. However, there is a reason that a lot of people don’t read Moby Dick. Melville’s musings can lose people. The actors were so involved with the language and what was going on with their own characters that they weren’t connecting with the other actors on stage. It felt like they were acting at each other instead of with each other.

The Drinks: The venue is in the middle of Berkeley-college-kid-central. To avoid the college night life, like the 30 year old curmudgeons we are, we went to an old hotel bar called Henry’s a couple of blocks away. It was a perfect place to debrief, since it had mostly people over the age of 40 and plenty of open tables. Stick to beer or wine though, the bartender had to look up how to make a Moscow mule. If you want to get crazy with the college kids, we saw them all going into Kipps.

Project Ahab; Or Eye of the Whale runs through August 23rd at Central works in the Berkeley City Club. Tickets are available on the Central Works website for $28. Tickets at the door can be purchased for $15-28 sliding scale. Pay what you can nights are every Thursday.

Drama Talks & Drinks: Matilda – “What the hell was my childhood?!”

Roald Dahl’s works are often shelved in the Children’s section of the library, but in reality Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryMatilda, and James and the Giant Peach, are all pretty dark compared to traditional kid-fare. (Who wasn’t a little scarred by Willy Wonka’s chocolate river tunnel boat ride horror show?) Though part of our initial excitement about getting to see Matilda, the tour of the Broadway musical adaptation of the Dahl classic which is now playing at SHN’s Orpheum Theater, should be attributed to childhood nostalgia, we were also excited to see how the show succeeded in being a hit with adults too. So off we went for a night of Drama Talk, Drinks and ICE CREAM (Humphry Slocombe previewed a new-Matilda inspired flavor at opening, it was delicious and will supposedly now be available with a limited run a local shops, go get your sugar rush on)!

Katie: So many kids in this show! Extremely well trained, talented kids! And they looked like they were like 8! Knowing how much goes into being in a national tour of a Broadway show, I wondered what it must be like for them to have such an unconventional childhood. Well, really not have a childhood. What will these kids be like at 18?

Brittany: They will either decide they don’t want to act anymore, and say what the hell was my childhood?! Or end up like Brittany Spears and Miley Cyrus, so pissed off that they didn’t have a childhood they start licking random shit.

K: Hmm… well the plus side is they made the show so cute.

B: It was so cute! And so clever.

K: It was like watching a cartoon as a live musical. With how Mrs. Trunchbull was played by a man and wearing the exact costume from the book, all of the special effects, to the jerky, unnatural choreography and not to mention the swinging a kid by her braids.

B: I can’t believe they were able to pull that off. How did they even do that?! And the actor that played Mr. Wormwood was so old school vaudeville. Like the way he did takes and kicks in every single one of his exits was really cartoony. He was amazing.

K: He was great! So was the male actor that played Mrs. Trunchbull.

B: Sometimes when you have a guy play a female character and it’s like the fat women who is bad or crazy it comes off as weird and rubs me wrong. But this was done in a very tasteful way. Overall, I didn’t think it was going to be as dark and scary as it was. As an adult that made me really like it. It was a surprisingly biting critique of contemporary culture, everybody just cares about being loud. It felt like the song call “Telly” was a critique of Fox News.

K: Or reality TV. I felt like a lot of the message was lets not put so much weight on being the prettiest and the loudest, let’s care more about being kind and informed.

B: Yeah, I liked how the show really critiqued the way society so often tells people “Don’t be smart. Be pretty.” “We don’t need substance just a hundred and forty characters will do”.(She points to the Twitter office above us)

The Verdict: You don’t need to like musicals to like this show, it’s so fun and clever. If you hate: light hearted fun, talented kids, smiling, confetti, dark cartoons, swings and english accents you will hate this show. Otherwise, GO GET YOUR TICKETS, it was smart, dark and delightful.

The Drama Talk: This show was nominated for Best Musical, and won Best Set Design and Costume Design for a reason. It is such a refreshing take on a classic story that even though we have all seen the movie, this adaptation still surprises and does not disappoint.

The Drinks: After over two years of DT&D we have been to nearly all the bars in a two block radius of the Orpheum, so we were excited to see that a new bar/restaurant called Dirty Water opened opened on 10th and Market…Yep, inside the Twitter building. We were intrigued, but skeptical. We walked up to the door off of Market, but it was locked. We went around and entered through the alley off of 10th St. As you enter, you question if you are still in San Francisco… but after a chat with the very nice and knowledgeable bartender who makes you the best cocktails you ever had, skepticism quickly makes way for fandom. Brittany had the Long Strange Trip and Katie had the Suffering Bastard. The drinks aren’t cheap, and neither is the show, but both were very worth it.

Matilda runs through August 15th at SHN’s Orpheum Theater. Tickets are available through SHN’s website for $45-$210. They are also doing a $40 rush tickets for every show, so show up 2 ½ hours before any performance to try your luck. 2 per person. At the moment Goldstar also has tickets for sale for $65.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Now for Now – “Did she really pee?”

There’s been a buzz in the SF theater world about Now For Now the “multimedia physical theater piece created and performed by Bay Area theater makers Mark Jackson and Megan Trout”. It’s only in SF for a short run before it goes on tour nationally, so we headed to Z Below for a night of Drama Talk & Drinks.

 

Photo by Gabby Battista

WATCH TRAILER

Brittany: Okay, let’s just get this out of the way, did she really pee?

Katie: I don’t think so. It had to have been some sort of water bag prop sort of thing.

B: That would have to be a health code violation, right? You can’t just pee on stage on purpose, even if you clean it up after.

K: Yeah, I don’t think she peed. You know what was really confusing for me though, is some of the things Mark (Jackson) was saying as his character, is stuff from his real life. I got too distracted trying to differentiate what was fiction vs. what was reality.

B: I enjoyed that they did that, especially in the opening. It was refreshing to have a prologue that that broke the third wall and drew the audience into the scene. They made some very cool staging choices too. It was neat having the live technology – live texting –  live video from the phone – real-time IM conversations – incorporated into the scenes. Screens are such a big element of how we interact with people, so I appreciate that they worked that into the evolution of these relationships.

K: They were definitely being innovative, which I appreciate, but I just wasn’t that interested in the characters.

B: There was a bit of navel gazing that I got a little fed up with too. Actors complaining about the kinds of problems actors face, that actors love to muse about. It made it hard for me to sympathize with their ennui. I didn’t really care what happened to either of the characters at the end.

K: There were moments that were fascinating to watch from a theatrical standpoint. The movement work was beautiful.

B: You just have to like theater for the art-of-theater’s sake, you’ll be disappointed if you go for the story.

K: I’m just disappointed because Mark Jackson was one of my favorite professors, and I felt like this play was very self indulgent which I wouldn’t have thought would be his style.

B: Maybe the play is a critique of itself. It comes across as narcissistic because it’s saying everyone is narcissistic. That’s why they took a selfie at curtain call.

K: I hope so. I’d rather think the whole show is meta, instead of just self indulgent.

The Verdict: It you enjoy arty theater, you may like this. If you go to theater to hear a compelling, moving story, we think this play falls short.

The Drama Talk: While the show makes some very innovative choices with the way it incorporates technology, and the movement in the transitions can be spellbinding, the show falls short when it comes to the stories it tells. Perhaps it’s because the show tells the same story three times over, just with the roles the actors play in each version slightly altered; in story one they’re father/daughter, story two lovers, story three teacher/student, with the same salient details re-conceived across the three relationship types. By the end we were both tired of the characters and their disillusioned lives.

The Drinks: After the show we rolled down the hill to Rite Spot Cafe to grab a laid back drink and dissect what we just saw. Brittany got a Bitter Bullet, because all the characters seemed so bitter, and Katie got a Moscow Mule, to go along with all the stories of being driven to drink by “hardcore” Russian actors. We wondered why we didn’t get drinks there after every show, and thanked our lucky stars that there are still bars in the Mission where you can get a good strong simple drink and talk the night away.

Now for Now runs through July 26th at the Z-Below theater at Z Space, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 5pm. Tickets are available on the Z Space website $20 for adults, or $15 for Students and Seniors.

Drama Talk & Drinks Preview: Moments From The Bubble, Or: How The [Google] Bus Stops Here.

Normally DT&D tries to take the guess work out of going to theatre in the Bay Area by providing brutally honest reviews of the shows we see. But we also don’t want you to miss out on what might be a very cool show, just because we haven’t had the chance to review it yet!

With only a two day run of Moments From The Bubble, Or: How The [Google] Bus Stops Here, a playwright-driven community action project created in collaboration with Z Space and the 1 Minute Play Festival, there’s no way we’d be able to review show before the run is over. Given what is currently happening in San Francisco (and even more rapidly the Mission), we thought you might want to see it anyway without our official endorsement.  To help inform your decision here are more details from the event description:

The drastic changes happening to the neighborhoods and communities in the Bay Area is quite staggering. I don’t think the national zeitgeist quite understands what’s happening here. San Francisco is becoming the most expensive city in the world, and it’s at the expense of everyone and everything that makes is special”, says 1MPF Producing Artistic Director, Dominic D’Andrea. Stressing that the work is designed a social “barometer” project to unearth connections in the zeitgeist via themes, ideas, and trends, D’Andrea says, “When we did our annual festival in partnership with playwrights foundation over the past two years, the topic of gentrification was so charged, so present, so immense, that we decided to come back to make an entire other project dedicated to digging into these topics, and what it means for the community. This is our artistic response to what’s happening. It’s part play festival, and part community action.

If that sounds as interesting to you as it did to us, you can check out Moments From The Bubble, Or: How The [Google] Bus Stops Here, this Saturday June 27th at 8PM and Sunday June 28th at 3PM and 7:30PM at Z Below (470 Florida Ave).  Tickets are $20 and available for purchase at http://zspace.org/new-work

We’re going Saturday night, so if you see us, say “hi!” Or if that’s too weird, just let us know what you thought of the show in the comments. Hope to see you at the theatre!

Drama Talks & Drinks: The Barbary Coast Revue – “If you are going to be corny you have be clever”

We love San Francisco, we love seeing new shows in the Mission, we love theater venues with full-bars, so when we heard about The Barbary Coast Revue at Balancoire we thought we’d love it. The description on the About page read: “Mark Twain delights with a riotous musical comedy sing along at THE BARBARY COAST REVUE…Set to parodies of Bay Area hits from the ’80s to now, THE BARBARY COAST REVUE is the new must see show for anyone seeking “the true history of San Francisco!”  So with high expectations for a night of anachronistic revelry, off we went for an evening of Drama Talk & Drinks.

Brittany: I just (sighs)…If you’re going to make the audience participate that much then you should almost have auditions for your audience. The leads had really good voices, but there were so many awkward drunk people that could not sing that it messed up the show for me. I know it’s supposed to be a sing-along, but really every single song? We don’t even know the lyrics!

Katie: Exactly! There were so many times I wanted to hear the lead female sing because she was so good, but I couldn’t. Also, if you’re going to take popular music and use the melodies then your lyrics and story have to be really clever, and I think they fell short. There were a couple moments when it worked, the Third Eye Blind “Semi-Charmed Kind of Life” with En Vogue’s “My Lovin – You’re Never Gonna Get it” mash up was dope, but most of the time I don’t think they went far enough.

B: I like that it was an ode to San Francisco, but I agree, SF has a crazy history and the writers could have done more to make the show more relevant and creative. I think I only LOLed twice. I guess if you like Beach Blanket Babylon you would like this…but this didn’t have hats. Also, and I know this was opening night, but there were SO many technical errors. The spotlights didn’t turn on at the right time, the projections of the lyrics were off, which made it even harder for the audience to sing-along. Just lots of little things like that which made the show feel really messy. It runs all summer so I’m sure they’ll work out the kinks, but the bad tech was definitely distracting.

K: I’m really rooting for Balancoire, it’s such a cool space and I love that there’s good food and drinks and there’s a performance space… it just all didn’t come together for me.  If you are going to be that corny you have be more clever.

The Verdict: Cool venue. Talented singers. Mediocre writing. Bad tech. We go to theater to see talented people do creative things, not to be forced to sing weak lyrics to dated songs with a bunch of drunk people. People shouldn’t get away with sloppy theater like this, so unless this show tightens-up save your $29-$64.

The Drama Talk: The Barbary Coast Revue is supposed to be silly and fun, but the execution was lackluster. Maybe we’re the problem, and just aren’t ‘fun’ enough to look past the shows flaws and dive-in uninhibited. Much of the audience (mostly ages 40+) seemed elated to be the under rehearsed stars of the show – singing and doing the conga with the actors. It was just not our cup of tea. If the show was technically tighter, the actors more uniformly polished, and the audience participation less intensive we could have gotten past the weaknesses in the script, but despite some great individual performances (we’re looking at you Danny Kennedy, Stephanie Rapa and Michael Perez) we just felt awkward when we were accosted by actors at the end of the show asking “Did you enjoy it?”

The Drinks: We love going to performance venue’s with a full bar, so the show get’s points for that. We had their special cocktail called a “Shanghai Surprise”. The surprise was how good it was. Maybe we should of had a few more of those before the show to loosen us up for sloppy drunk karaoke theater.

The Barbary Coast Revue runs every Thursday at Balançoire. Tickets are available on their website and range from $29-$64. The more expensive ticket  gets you a private 7pm hors d’oeuvre reception with the cast, VIP reserved seating, and dinner during the show, all of which looked yummy.

[Previously]