Drama Talk & Drinks: Schooled “the liberals couldn’t get their shit together”

Summer time in San Francisco means free theater in the park from the long running (57 year old) SF Mime Troupe. No, they’re not silent mimes. They’re a troupe committed to creating socially relevant theater. In the throws of one of the most dramatic election seasons in recent history, we needed to see something that would make us both laugh, and think. So off we went to see SF Mime Troupe’s Schooled at the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival for some drama talk and drinks.

Velina Brown (Lavina Jones) and Rotimi Agbabiaka (Thomas Jones) in Schooled. Photo: Mike@mikemelnyk.com

Velina Brown (Lavina Jones) and Rotimi Agbabiaka (Thomas Jones) in Schooled. Photo: Mike@mikemelnyk.com

Katie: Seeing a play in San Francisco produced by a democratic-socialist theater company about why one shouldn’t vote for Trump seemed….I don’t know, like singing to the choir? Did I like the song? Hell yes! It was the song I like to sing;  anti-Trump, anti-oppression, anti-big business and lets do what’s right for the people and not just what’s right for the bottom line. I was into it, but it didn’t feel like it was changing any minds. It was great to feel part of the community though.  What an awesome crowd.

Brittany: Yeah, the crowd was genuinely diverse, which was neat. You don’t see that at a lot of shows. You are totally spot on with the fact they are singing to the choir, but I don’t know if that’s a problem.  It was terrifying that in the end the character which was most like Trump won. The liberals couldn’t get their shit together. If our election plays out like this super liberal theater troupe is saying, we are going to have a Trump presidency and, as you’d guess, it doesn’t end well.

K: Terrifying for sure, I think that’s the point, to show the audience what’s at stake if we don’t all work to make sure he loses. The actors did such a great job. A really well rounded cast with some great singers. They all played multiple characters really well too.  The show moved and held my attention. Here we are, in this busy urban park in the middle of downtown, people everywhere and I was so in it. It had good pacing, scene changes, and use of music and sound effects. It all really came together in this piece.

B: Their sets are so cool. I love the way they are so small but do so much. The song where the actors were being spun on and off stage singing about why they should be elected for president of the school board was really well done. You have to think, they do this in different locations where they have to set it up break it down. They’re outside, people everywhere, and technically it goes perfectly. Really impressive and so on point. The show was maybe too real for me, despite being satire. It didn’t feel as hopeful as other Mime Troupe shows I’ve seen, and we need a little more hope in politics right now. That really has nothing to do with the show though, just my depression regarding the current state of political affairs.

Verdict: Relevant. Entertaining. Well done. It’s FREE & anti-Trump. We think this is a well spent day in the park.

The Drama Talk:  There’s good reason SF Mime Troupe has been around so long, producing high quality, politically relevant theater, they’re very good at it. Although the show is obviously intended as a satire of the current election, with characters representing Hillary, Bernie and Trump, they did a good job creating their own story-line (a school board election) so it doesn’t feel stale. Although by the end of the play you can’t mistake the commentary on contemporary events, they also tackle some interesting topics which go beyond the election including the purpose of education, the mechanization of labor, and other important themes. The actors are all extremely talented, the band is fun, the set is great. Although none of the songs are super memorable, the message of the show is.

The Drinks: We have been hearing a lot about Susan Sarandon’s ping-pong bar and restaurant project called Spin and since it was very close to Yerba Buena Gardens we decided to check it out. We didn’t play ping-pong (It’s $50 for 1 hour!) but we did have some cocktails which were delicious and average SF prices. This extremely modern, street artsy, swanky “social club” was quite the contrast to our afternoon in a park watching free community theater. Fun, but fancy enough that you could imagine Jay-Z making an appearance.

Schooled runs through September 5th at various parks (see below). Tickets are FREE.

Lakeside Park- (Lake Merritt)in front of the Edoff Memorial Bandstand

Wed., July 27-7:00 pm (Music 6:30)

Thurs., July 28 – 7:00 pm (Music 6:30)

Bellevue Ave. & Perkins St., Oakland

McLaren Park-Jerry Garcia Amphitheater

Sat., July 30-2:00 pm (Music 1:30)

100 John F ShelleyDr.,

San Francisco

Walnut Park-Petaluma Progressive Festival

Sun., July 31-4:00 pm (Music 3:30)

201 4th St. (at D St.), Petaluma

See the complete schedule HERE.

 

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Drama Talk & Drinks: Low Hanging Fruit “it was depressing…it was supposed to be”

After seeing Victoria Beckham’s feminist revamp of Wannabe, our girl-power was feeling particularly…powerful. So when we heard local women-led company, 3Girls Theatre Company,  had a new show, written by a woman, about a very important women’s issue (homeless female war vets), starring women, it really was a no brainer, we had to see it for Drama Talk & Drinks.

Cheri Vanden Heuvel, Heather Gordon. Photo by: Mario Parnell Photography

Katie: Gosh, it had some strong elements to it, some good performances, and important subject matter, but there was just something about the play itself that felt off to me. Post war trauma that leads to homelessness is a complicated issue. This play does a good job highlighting elements of it and portraying the feeling of  helplessness, but the end just seemed too simplified. For one character it felt overly dramatic, and for two of the others is felt almost too easy (spoiler alert: they had a home to go live in with one of their families). It felt like the playwright needed an end, so she just tied it up a bit too tidily.

Brittany:  I agree having the show be resolved so easily felt weird. But there were some really strong female characters, which I appreciated. I thought the girl who played Cory (Heather Gordon, pictured above) was really good, she was a fantastic actress. There were some very moving stories, and important themes that each of the vets brought to the play. It was depressing… it was supposed to be, but at times it felt too heavy.

K: I didn’t love Maya’s asides where she was preaching in the church. They took me out of the story, it felt clunky.

B: Yeah, they didn’t move the story forward, although some of them had very powerful imagery. I don’t think they needed the extra drama that the Canyon character brought to the piece though. I understand her arrival was the catalyst for the conflict, but there was plenty of deep stuff to deal with without her making the end even more tragic. Right now is a hard time to see this show. There is just so much fucked up stuff going on in the world right now. This reminds you of something else to be depressed about.

The Verdict: An important but depressing play with some very strong actors. If you feel like you can handle an (almost overly) tragic play, it’s worth a watch.

The Drama Talk: Homelessness by itself is sad, as is PTSD, drug abuse, sexual abuse, war, and any number of issues that this play tries to tackle. While the show is very well acted, the script at times feels like it’s just piling on too much tragedy. Particularly the end (which we won’t totally spoil, but DAMN really…you had to go there?) Still supporting local theater, by, for and about women is totally something you should do.

The Drinks: We headed into the Mission from Potrero Hill to check out Wild Hawk, which is the bar that took over the Lexington, but it was too full of people. So we headed down Mission Street to Gashead Tavern, mainly because it wasn’t busy. Since this show put us in a dark place, we both ordered Dark and Stormy’s.

Low Hanging Fruit runs until July 30th at the Z Below. Tickets are available for $30 through the 3Girls Theatre website. Right now there are tickets available on Goldstar for $17.50.

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Drama Talk & Drinks: Adventures in Tech (with Pillow Talk on the Side) “You have to laugh at how ridiculous real-life is”

A former co-worker of Brittany’s was in a new show at Piano Fight, Adventures in Tech (with Pillow Talk on the Side). Katie was busy, but Brittany wanted to see the show, so she rounded up a group of co-workers (groups of 6+ get discounted tickets) and out they went for a night of Drama Talk and Drinks – co-worker-edition.

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Brittany: So did you like it?

Co-worker 1: I thought it was fun!

Co-worker 2: Yeah, it was great.

Co-worker 3: I feel like I am supposed to say something really profound.

Brittany: Have you read Drama Talk & Drinks? You don’t need to say anything profound.

Co-worker 4: I thought it was very thoughtful, very good characters.

Co-worker 3: I loved the characters too. The were really rich. I wanted to hear more from them. The scenes moved so quickly. I felt like it was unfinished; I wanted resolution.

Co-worker 2: I kind of liked that.You get to peak inside of someone else’s life, but you don’t know how it ends.

Co-worked 1: I also appreciated the diversity of people and themes they included in the show. They touched on rising rents, homelessness, women in tech, and lots of other issues, all while making me laugh.

Brittany: I came in worried that it may be too snarky, and I was happy it wasn’t. It was funny but earnest.

Co-worker 5: I didn’t always know when to laugh. There were times when it would jump between something funny, and then suddenly jump to something deep, and I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry.

Co-worker 6: It was very genuine though. I felt like I was watching conversations I’ve had before be performed on stage. You have to laugh at how ridiculous real life is sometimes.

The Verdict: Our group was unanimous, and not just because we’re bias, this is a show worth seeing.  While it makes fun of the tech industry, and touches on some of the negative impacts the influx of people and money has had on our city, it does so with a warmth. This show reminds us that we are more similar than we are different, which feels like an important message to take home nowadays.

The Drama Talk: We’re a group of privileged young professionals, and this show definitely is written for that demographic. The script was supposedly pulled directly from the life of the playwright (Stuart Bousel), and his time working – at first reluctantly – as an office manager for a start-up. From intimate moments in bed with his boyfriend worrying about how to pay rent as an artist in SF, to awkward and funny conversations at work, a coffee-shop, and a recruiters office, the show jumps quickly between quick scenes giving the audience the feeling of being a fly on the wall. Although the quick cuts were a bit jolting at first, and the constant lights up and down with lots of (efficient but distracting) set movement sometimes forced you out of the moment, the show on the whole is a funny and honest look at life in today’s San Francisco.

The Drinks: As is often the case with a night out at Piano Fight, there’s no real reason to leave the venue after the show. We got post-show drinks at the bar, toasted our friend and a successful night of drama talk and drinks.

Adventures in Tech is already half way through their run. They have a show tonight (July 8) and one more weekend July 14-16, so go soon if you want to catch it before it closes. They have a great deal that tickets are $15/person for groups of 6 or more. Goldstar also has some discount tickets ranging from $12.50-$20. Regular general admission tickets are $25 and can be purchased

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Drama Talk & Drinks: Beauty and the Beast “I’m the BEEEAAST. You are YOOOU!”

There’s something about summer that makes a person nostalgic for childhood. Maybe it’s a pining for the good-ol’-days of summer vacation, or the longer hours of sunlight awaken something inside, but summer always feels like a good time to give-in to our more juvenile instincts. Perhaps that’s why when we heard that Beauty and the Beast was coming to SHN’s Orpheum Theater we decided to go for some Drama Talk and Drinks.

Beauty and the Beast

Brittany: It was cute. The kids in the audience were adorable.

Katie: Yes! It’s always fun when you have a responsive audience. It was cute to hear the kids get into it.

B: Lumiere was awesome. I loved him.

K: “Be Our Guest” was fucking FUN. It’s fun in the movie, but it was more fun on stage. Amazing costumes, choreography, and sets. You really felt transported to a magical world. I was obsessed with Beauty and the Beast when I was kid. I literally watched it every day the year it came out.

B: So did it live up your expectations?

K: Not exactly. The opening song and “Be Our Guest” were great. I didn’t care much about the new ones they added to the score though.

B: The new Beast songs were droning.

K: Right? He was like (singing)I’m the BEEAAST, you are YOOOU!”. There were also different character development things I preferred in the movie. The Beast seemed a lot more abusive in the stage version. He wasn’t just losing his temper, he was throwing Belle around.

B: Belle is always a little Stockholm Syndrome-y, but I feel like the live-action makes it darker than the cartoon. The ending seemed more aggressive than I remember too. Gaston in the movie was a jerk, but funny. In this he was a little more sinister and violent.

K: The voices were beautiful, the actors were very talented, and the set was amazing, but I still think I prefer the movie version. There were certain things that were awesome to see on stage. They used the puppets really well, and the transformation of the Beast was so cool to see live. I just wish they had either gone really different from the film, or stayed true to it. This felt in-between.

B: At the same time, the kids in the audience seemed to love it. Which, really, is the point. I think it’s a show for kids. It just also happens to appeal to adults since it’s a Disney classic.

The Verdict: Have family visiting for the holiday weekend or summer vacation? This is a great family friendly activity. Love Disney and want to see your favorite characters live on stage? Go, but it may not be exactly what you expect. Hate Disney and the patriarchal sugar coated fairy-tales it peddles?  This show is probably not your cup of tea.

The Drama Talk: Like so many touring shows, there are lots of great things to say about this production. The set, costumes, and spectacle truly transport you to a fairy-tale world. The leads are all very talented. Lumiere, played by Ryan N. Phillips, could not be more fun to watch. Yet despite a lot of good, it didn’t quite live up to our childhood memories of the original Disney animated film.

The Drinks: If you too want to find yourself in an enchanted castle, and return to a different kind of childhood, we recommend walking a few blocks up to Geary to the classic dive bar Edinburgh Castle Pub after the show. You’re best off if you stick with beer, but they do have a full bar.

Beauty and the Beast runs through July 10th. There are $40 “virtual rush” tickets available for every show, so go ahead and try your luck here. There are also currently discount tickets available on Goldstar for as little as $45. Otherwise, you can always purchase tickets through the SHN website.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Cabaret “I mean, what good is sitting alone in your room?”

I love me some classic, yet ahead of its time theater and one of my favorites is Cabaret. Even if you have never seen this musical, I’m sure you have heard one or two of its iconic songs.      [HERE is a link to the musical highlights, I urge you to get nostalgic (or educated) and check it out.] It’s too bad something came up for Brittany and she couldn’t make this one, but I was so excited to be able to take my friend Tara who has never been to a live musical. After grabbing a really good, well priced burger (we definitely recommend Popson’s as your dinner before the show) we crossed the street and headed into the beautiful Golden Gate Theatre to (hopefully) demonstrate to Tara the magic of live theater.

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 Katie: I love that I was with you for your first live musical! So how was it?

Tara: It was what I had expected. I’ve seen some theater but not much in my life, being from Florida and Arizona. I would say that the engagement with the audience was more than I anticipated and I really enjoyed that.

K: For me, overall, there was a lack of chemistry between characters, but there was some great individual performances. Who was your favorite character?

T: The master of ceremonies for sure. He really engaged with the audience. Although, if I was the one he pulled up out of the crowd to dance with I would have been mortified.

K: At the end a lot of people immediately stood up for a standing ovation, but not us. Why do you think you didn’t immediately stand up for the ovation at the end?

T: I’ve never experienced something that has made me feel like I wanted to stand up…so I’m not sure what that would be, but it wasn’t this.

K: This play didn’t make me want to stand up either. It might be because I’ve seen this play so many times, it’s just no longer exciting. I felt weirdly uninterested in what was going on.

T: The story line itself, while it was sad and people really did experience the scariness of pre-WWII Germany, didn’t bring the intensity of emotion until the end.

K: Would you go see another live musical?

T: Yes, of course. A musical on screen I don’t connect with at all. It loses my focus. Where seeing this live I was able to stay focused and connected with the songs and the actors. Also, I stayed awake the whole time, which says a lot since I’m known for falling asleep during movies.

K: Would you recommend this show to your friends?

T: Yes, totally. Especially friends who don’t go see live theater. I’m a big fan of doing something new, something different. Don’t just stick with the same’ol same’ol. Experiences like these are important. I mean, what good is sitting alone in your room? (wink, wink)

The Verdict: This show is a must see for those who have never seen Cabaret. If you have seen it this might not meet all your expectations, so consider getting rush or Goldstar tickets and save for some upcoming big Broadway touring shows. (such as Beautiful, Hedwig & the Angry Inch, or Hamilton – I know we CAN’T wait for those shows!)

The Drama Talk: This 1966 musical still holds up as a fearless, beautiful and important piece of musical theater. It’s been revived 8 times for a reason. With that said, there was something about this revival and cast that felt business as usual. There was very little surprises for those who are familiar with this musical, and for those who are unfamiliar it’s entertaining but due to a lack of character chemistry and complicated production value aren’t necessarily blown away.

The Drinks: There are quite a few options near the Golden Gate Theater. We recommend crossing the street to a bar called Showdown.

Cabaret runs through July 17th, at the Golden Gate Theatre. Tickets range from $50 – $212 and are available through the SHN website. They are doing in-person AND mobile $40 rush tickets, which is pretty cool. Visit the show’s homepage to find link to the mobile app. There are also currently sometickets on Goldstar selling for $55-$110.

Drama Talk & Drinks: West Side Story “Nothing says gang violence like grand jetés”

We’re suckers for the Stern Grove Festival (which, PSA starts next weekend). Epic picnics, redwoods, and culture all in one place. A trip to Stern Grove also means layers though. No matter how warm it may be when you start, you’ll end up shivering and cocooned in your dusty picnic blanket by the end. So when Brittany learned that a similar phenomenon, Mountain Play, existed just across the Bay on Mt. Tam, high out of Karl’s reach, she was intrigued. This summer’s production is the classic, West Side Story, so she asked her boyfriend (and frequent DT&D contributor Sam) on a Sunday date. They packed a picnic, rented a car, and drove up the mountain for a day of Drama Talk & Drinks.

West Side Story

Sam: I think this is the widest set I’ve ever seen. This theater is insane, I can’t believe that view! Did you get a good picture of the set?

Brittany: Yeah, I took it before the fog took over when you could still see the City.

S: Oooo, it looks cold down there. We should stay up here, above the clouds, there’s a place for us.

B: So did you like the show?

S: Yeah, I thought it was great. Great set, good costumes, this space is amazing.

B: They had great voices too. The dancing was the only thing fell a bit short for me. West Side Story is part ballet. Nothing says gang violence like grand jetés, and only some of the dancers were up to the task, although the fight choreography was on-point

S: They’re baking under the hot sun, at 2000 feet. I was impressed.

B: True, the audience was dropping like flies. I saw at least 3 people near us need to get medical help during the first act because of the heat.

S: I felt bad for the orchestra, they were outstanding, but they were stuffed into that little black box on stage. It must have been boiling.

B: I think it’s hard when seeing a play in a venue like this to fully appreciate the show. There’s so many distractions, the view, the wine, the picnic, kids walking around, audience members fainting. I think they did a good production of West Side Story, but with so much else going on you lose some of the emotional impact. You’re never fully immersed into the world of the play.

S: You don’t get the same punch, that’s for sure. It’s nice that outdoor theater doesn’t have to be as buttoned up though. The whole experience of spending a day on top of Mt. Tam, listening to the pre-show music, having a picnic, hiking up from the car to get here and then there’s a great show on top of it all. It’s a great way to spend a Sunday.

The Verdict: There’s a reason people are more likely to call this production by its company name, Mountain Play, than the name of the show they’re seeing. West Side Story was good, but it’s the whole experience that makes this day-trip worthwhile.

The Drama Talk: The actors had fantastic voices, the set and costumes were great, and although the dancers fell a bit short of Broadway-quality, it was still a well-choreographed show. West Side Story is a classic for a reason, and this is a solid production. Mountain Play is all about the experience. It’s a whole day affair. Music starts at 12:30 so if you get your act together you can arrive around noon, eat your picnic, kids can get their face painted, and hang out before the show starts. There’s even a picnic judging competition, which is just too intimidating, but it gives you an idea of how serious there people are about enjoying Sunday. Get there early for parking on-mountain and a place to sit in the shade.

The Drinks: Lots of people bring wine with their picnics, and there’s also wine and beer for sale on the Mountain. Just be careful to hydrate, it is hot and you’re at altitude. After the show we reluctantly rolled down the mountain back into the fog and Mill Valley, picking up a stranded fellow audience member on the way whose car was parked at the bottom. She told us that she grew up in Mill Valley and hadn’t been back to a Mountain Play since she was a kid. For her, this defined Marin summer. Jonesing for Puerto Rican food, we went to the closest thing we could find nearby, Joe’s Taco Lounge and Salsaria. We got some margaritas and toasted to a successful day of Drama Talk & Drinks.

West Side Story runs through June 19th, shows are on Sunday’s at 2:00pm, but pre-show music starts at 12:30 so get there early to picnic and enjoy the view. General admission tickets are $40 and available on the Mountain Play website.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Maggie’s Riff – “He went through some crazy shit”

We always love going to Pianofight. Great food, drinks and theater. What’s not to like? We also love San Francisco, so plays that touch on SF history usually make it to the top of our list. When we saw the press release for Maggie’s Riff “A time-bending examination into the memories of Beat Generation trailblazer Jack Kerouac.” we knew we had to go for drama talk and drinks.

Maggie's RIff

Brittany: The guy who played Jack Kerouac (Paul Rodrigues) was insane – incredibly talented. The show was over an hour, he was on stage pretty much the entire time, and his high-energy kept the audience with him. Mad props.

Katie: His acting was on point. I really enjoyed the way he switched between young Jack, and old Jack. It was seamless but you could feel the shift in energy between the two. His physicality gave you a sense that he went through some crazy shit in the intervening years. In general I think they did a great job with casting. The whole cast really looked like they fit the time period.

B: Yeah, they did a good job establishing the world of the play, from actors who looked the part, to the set, to the music, to the costumes. I imagine that’s what the inner mind of Jack Kerouac felt like.

K: I really loved their use of space. The way they used the shadows behind the scrim to set the scenes and also light Mr. Sax was really cool.

B: The set was great. At the beginning I honestly couldn’t breath very well because there was SO much haze in the space, but it was all worth it for that opening image of Jack Kerouac talking into a mic, smoking a cigarette, with that eery light shining down on him. That was a sexy stage picture.

K: Yes, totally. I’m not gonna lie though, I struggled with staying focused at times. I’m not very familiar with Jack Kerouac’s work, so maybe that’s part of it. When the play went more into the abstract monologue beat poetry parts, or when the multiple actors were all saying lines at the same time, I felt my mind wandering. I also was distracted by the noise and music from the restaurant coming through the wall.

B: For this show I think you kinda need to like Jack Kerouac, the playwright borrows a lot of language from Kerouac’s poetry. But I bet if you’re super familiar with his writing, and really like it, this would be amazing for you – it’s so well produced.

The Verdict: If you like Kerouac and beat poetry, get your tickets now! If you’re kinda meh about Kerouac, but still love to see a tight piece of theater, go for it. If you really can’t stand abstract narratives, and beat poetry isn’t your thing, you may want to skip this one, but you’re missing some sexy smoky stage pictures.

The Drama Talk: Paul Rodrigues, who played Jack Kerouac, put on one of the most engaging and energetic performances we’ve seen in a long time. He was fantastic. The show had incredibly high production values, and despite the noise coming through the wall from the restaurant, did a good job of transporting the audience to the different time and place. Although the play itself may not end up at the top of our favorites list, Faultline Theater is quickly rising to the top of our SF theater company list. We saw their production of Tinderella, also at PianoFight, and also loved it.

The Drinks: We got moscow mules at the Piano Fight bar, but if you want to get that authentic Kerouac experience just go for shots of Southern Comfort.

Maggie’s Riff runs through June 11th, with shows at 7:30 Thursday – Saturday, and 6pm on Sundays. Tickets range from $20 for VIP front row tickets, to $15 for general admission, or $10 (The Double Date) for groups of 4+, and are available through the Faultline Theater website. There are also currently some Goldstar tickets selling for $7.50-$10.

Drama Talk & Drinks: You’re Gonna Cry – “A piece about gentrification in the Mission that was gentrified out of the Mission”

Gentrification is a frequent topic of conversation around these parts. However, recently it’s felt like the tone of these conversations has shifted, from one of righteous indignation, to that of resignation. Two years ago DT&D had the good fortune to interview Eric Reid, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Theater MadCap, who also used to run CELLSpace/Inner Mission SF before it was lost to The Beast on Bryant. Eric, partially inspired by Theater MadCap’s displacement, teamed up with HBO Def Poet and Youth Speaks co-founder, Paul S. Flores, to produce You’re Gonna Cry, a one man show about gentrification in the Mission in the 90s.  Their goal is to make the gentrification conversation a little more action oriented. So off we went to Union Square (since their art space was gentrified out of the Mission) for some Drama Talk and Drinks.

Katie: It wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be. I was expecting it to be more innovative, with more spoken word and poetry.

Brittany: Yeah, it felt more like it was going for an Anna Deavere Smith vibe, lots of monologues around a theme. Some of the characters that were created were super compelling. I loved the immigrant mother with her daughter finding the old microwave on the street. Or the old women selling books. I wanted to know their stories. But despite some bright-spots, the pacing was off, and the show dragged for me.

K: The pacing was definitely a problem for me too. The transitions between the different characters took too long, and some of the staging was just wonky, like when he played all 3 characters at the same time. I don’t envy Flores, it’s not an easy show.

B: There were some technical problems with the TVs that were distracting too. This is a one man show, shit needs to be tight, and it wasn’t.

K: I appreciate what they are trying to do though, It’s important to have this dialogue. I also really appreciate that they had the post-show discussion with an activist. You want theater to inspire action, and it’s great they’re helping to direct people’s frustration about gentrification in positive ways.

The Verdict: The show needs some tightening, but the message is on-point. Making yourself a more empathetic and informed San Franciscan while supporting local theater is not a bad way to spend a night. Go and stay for the discussion at the end.

The Drama Talk: A play about gentrification in the Mission couldn’t even take place in the Mission because of gentrification. That’s pretty intense. The production itself could have been tighter. Slow transitions and some tech mishaps meant it lost some of its momentum and therefore emotional impact. MadCap’s website encourages audiences to “Come for the play. Stay for the discussion.” and we really appreciated the dialogue that happened after the show. Each night has a different local artists or activist who leads the post-show talk, so check the list below since discussion will vary dependent on who’s leading:

May 14thAmy Farah Weiss – Homeless advocate.

May 15th – Norman will talk about wages and the struggle for gente to teach gente in the Mission.

May 20thAdriana Camarena – Local Mission activist and author.

May 21stEdwin Lindo – District 9 Supervisor candidate.

May 27thLuna Malbroux – Comedienne/Community activist.

The Drinks: Afterwards we went to Benjamin Cooper, which was literally right next to the theater entrance. Exit the building, make a left, then an immediate second left into an unmarked door, up the stairs to a small cocktail bar. When you enter go right and head to the back, there are usually a place to sit. And after a discussion about SF’s housing crisis you will need a strong drink.

You’re Gonna Cry runs through May 28th at The Phoenix Theater. Tickets are available through the MadCap website and are $20.

 

 

Drama Talk & Drinks: The Capulet Ball – “There was still a boy to kill!”

DT&D has reviewed a We Players show before. Last summer we loved their site-specific Ondine at Sutro Baths. So when we heard about their season kick-off party, The Capulet Ball, we were intrigued. Katie was busy, so Brittany and Sam donned their best Shakespearean-Masked-Ball garb and headed out for a night of Drama Talk and Drinks.

Capulet-Ball

Brittany: So did you have fun?

Sam: Yeah, I had a blast.

B: I think that the show (the full production of Romeo and Juliet) is going to be good. The girl who was Juliet was great.

S: She had great energy. She really got the physicality of a teenager. She had no inhibitions, and couldn’t filter when Romeo was nearby. The balcony scene felt really genuine and fresh, and I don’t normally like Shakespeare since it so often feels stale.

B: Even though this was just a sneak-preview of the show that’s opening this summer, you really got a good sense of the characters. Even if you never saw the actors saying their lines, by just interacting with them- in dancing or making small talk- you could tell who they were.

S: The characters were really intimate with the audience. It reminded me of Sleep No More, where you don a mask and become part of the scene. I wish that it went longer.

B: Yeah, it was really short. It was supposed to go until 10 but it only went until maybe 8:45 before the action ended and people started to leave. Even the band wrapped up early.  I guess it’s good to leave the audience wanting more, but I thought it would be a longer production.

S: For the brief production it was, the costumes were phenomenal. The animal masks were haunting, they added something whimsical to the production.

B: It’s also fun that so many audience members got dressed up. There were some elaborate costumes and impressive masks. The show only worked because the audience bought-in. If you had come into that space with the audience wearing normal street clothes it would have been a very different experience. People dressed up, danced and interacted. That’s what made it fun, getting to be in character yourself.

S: I wonder if we could have convinced the band to keep playing, it ended so early and I wanted it to continue. There was still a boy to kill!

B: And a girl. And a few other people too.

S: Not enough death for an evening out.

The Verdict: The Capulet Ball is a fun way to support an innovative Bay-Area theater company. It’s not even the whole first act of Romeo and Juliet, so if you want to see the full play, hold out until R&J opens this summer. But if you want to have a very cool interactive theater experience, that lets you dress up and be part of the show, go to this. It’s pricey, but it supports a good cause, and drinks and light food are included.

The Drama Talk: We Players is great at site-specific work, and The Capulet Ball is no exception. The space for this production was perfect, and looking at the future venues, there are some neat places on the list. Production values are super high. Once you walk through the door and put on your mask you’re transported to the Capulet’s home and the party where Romeo and Juliet’s star-crossed paths first cross. It helps if you get dressed up, drink some mead, and go in with no inhibitions.

The Drinks: The party has an open bar, so we drank there. Wine, beer and mead only, but the pours are generous and flow all night.

There are only three more performances of The Capulet Ball, all in different parts of the Bay Area. They run through June 18th, and range from $75 for the show in Oakland, to $150 to the show in Calistoga (which includes dinner). Tickets are available through the We Players website: http://www.weplayers.org

Sam & Brittany In Masked-Ball Finery

Sam & Brittany in Masked-Ball Finery

Drama Talk & Drinks: An Act of God “the writer has to be an atheist, right?”

This show had me at two words “Sean Hayes” (I’m a big Will and Grace fan). I actually didn’t know much about the show going in, so it was fun to learn that the writer David Javerbaum was a head writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and started the twitter account @TheTweetOfGod which has over 2 million followers. Since Brittany couldn’t make it to this one, I turned it into a date night. I mean there is nothing more romantic to me than entertainment about how ridiculous religion can be!

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Katie: Okay…the writer has to be an atheist, right?

Garrett: I don’t know, but now I’m even more of an atheist. I thought the show was freaking brilliant.  Sean Hayes was perfect. I don’t think many other actors could pull this off. His energy was so good, he made it really come to life.

K: Totally! Such a difficult show to do. It’s not easy to pull off pretty much a one man show, I mean the two angels roles were so minimal that barely counts. It’s great they kept it to 90 minutes, that format really couldn’t be a minute longer. The story was good for that length of time. Towards the end it was losing some steam, and I feel like the jokes were about to get old. But it kept my attention and it ended right when it needed to end.

G: I think it lost steam for me at a couple different points but not for very long and it picked up each time. I liked that it had a lot of topical and local humor and it was a combination of really specific current topics but with the broader scope of human existence, god and earth and all that fun stuff. And I liked how the actors played off the audience a little bit, making it feel like an improv show…really fun. And “God” even broke character temporarily to mock a group of people walking in late to the show. Awesome.

K:  With a one man show like this, I think that format of interacting with the audience made us feel like they were having a conversation with God. And by bringing in the audience it made us more present. I feel like if that character didn’t bring in the audience I don’t think it would have been as compelling. That format made us feel like we were all hanging out with Sean Hayes having a conversation.

G: Definitely. I would have to say this is the best one man show I’ve ever seen.

The Verdict: This is a really smart show and super entertaining. Must be open minded. The existence of God is always a sticky subject, but this format and acting style was wonderfully silly and successful.

The Drama Talk: The main character (Sean Hayes) doesn’t move much from the couch in the middle of the stage but his energy and range as an actor made this story come to life.  As with all SHN shows the technical aspects of this show, though simple, were amazing. The set never changed but the lighting, sound effects, and use of video were on point.

The Drinks: This is a show that we recommend going into a little loose. We had a couple of classy (expensive, yet strong) drinks before the show at the theater. Then afterward we wanted to take that class down a notch (or 10) and went down a few blocks to one of our favorite dive bars the Tempest.

An Act of God runs through April 17th at the Golden Gate Theater. Tickets are available through the SHN website and range from $75-$150. Right now there are tickets on Goldstar from $55-$70. Also, take note that a limited number of $40 Rush tickets will be available for every performance beginning 2 hours prior to curtain at the SHN Golden Gate Theatre Box Office. Tickets are subject to availability. Cash only. 2 per person.