Stage listings are compiled by Guardian staff. Performance times may change; call venues to confirm. Reviewers are Robert Avila, Rita Felciano, and Nicole Gluckstern. Submit items for the listings at firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.
The Chairs Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor, SF; www.cuttingball.com. $20-45. Opens Thu/7, 7:30pm. Runs Thu, 7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 5pm. Through March 31. Cutting Ball Theater performs Rob Melrose's new Eugene Ionesco translation.
Dead Metaphor ACT's Geary Theater, 415 Geary, SF; www.act-sf.org. $20-95. Opens Wed/6, 8pm. Runs Tue-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm; Sun/10, 7pm; Tue/12 show at 7pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through March 24. American Conservatory Theater performs George F. Walker's dark comedy about postwar living.
The Great Big Also Z Space, 450 Florida, SF; www.zspace.org. $15-30. Previews Thu/7-Fri/8, 8pm. Opens Sat/9, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through March 24. Mugwumpin performs a world premiere about creating a new world.
A Lady and a Woman Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.therhino.org. $15-30. Previews Thu/7-Sat/8, 8pm. Opens Sat/9, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through March 24. Theatre Rhinoceros performs the Bay Area premiere of Shirlene Holmes' play about a love affair between two African American women in the late 19th century.
Fallaci Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-89. Previews Fri/8-Sat/9 and Tue/12, 8pm; Sun/10, 7pm. Opens March 13, 8pm. Runs Tue, Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through April 21. Berkeley Rep performs Pulitzer-winning journalist Lawrence Wright's new play about Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci.
The Mountaintop Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield, Palo Alto; www.theatreworks.org. $23-75. Previews Wed/6-Fri/8, 8pm. Opens Sat/9, 8pm. Runs Tue-Wed, 7:30pm; Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm), through March 31. Starting April 3, runs Wed-Thu, 11am (also Thu, 8pm); Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through April 7. TheatreWorks performs Katori Hall's play that re-imagines the events on the night before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination.
The Real Americans Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $25-50. Opens Fri/8, 8pm. Runs Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through April 6. Dan Hoyle shifts his popular show about small-town America to the Marsh's Berkeley outpost.
Assistance NOHspace, 2840 Mariposa, SF; www.opentabproductions.com. $20. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 6pm. Through March 30. Leslye Headland's comedy about assistants is loosely based on her experiences working for Harvey Weinstein.
Foodies! The Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.foodiesthemusical.com. $30-34. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. AWAT Productions presents Morris Bobrow's musical comedy revue all about food.
God of Carnage Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.sheltontheater.org. $38. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through March 30. Shelton Theater presents Yasmina Reza's Tony-winning comedy about upper-middle-class parents clashing over an act of playground violence between their children.
Inevitable SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter, SF; www.sfplayhouse.org. $20. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through March 23. SF Playhouse's "Sandbox Series," enabling new and established playwrights to stage new works, kicks off its third season with Jordan Puckett's drama about a woman trying to make sense of her life.
Jurassic Ark Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; www.theexit.org. $15-25. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through March 16. Writer-performer David Caggiano's zany, well-executed solo play centers on a Christian televangelist who is unwaveringly bent on making a big-budget movie about a cowboy-like Biblical Noah, his Ark, and the largely lovable dinosaurs callously left out of the story — a project he sees delivering a decisive blow to the Darwinians, while turning cineplexes across the land into celluloid cathedrals. Brother Dallas and his proselytizing pitch eventually find receptive ears in a trinity of movie-industry heavies, whose collective business acumen demands a few changes to the script. Meanwhile, the intoxicating power of it all leads to a lapse in Brother Dallas's righteousness and a scandal reminiscent of Hugh Grant's career. Dallas rebounds from this bout with the Devil and sees his movie made — but surely only he is unaware that the Devil keeps a Hollywood address. Smartly directed by Mark Kenward, this low-frills production relies almost exclusively on Caggiano's sturdy ability with quick-change characterizations (couched in Dylan West's modest lighting design and a suggestive soundscape by sound editor–musician John Mazzei). The fitful satire trades in pretty orthodox caricature and, in Brother Dallas, lacks a very compelling or sympathetic central figure; but it unfolds with a very cinematic imagination that, while formulaic, is itself one hell of a movie pitch. (Avila)
Just One More Game Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; www.tripleshotprodutions.org. $25. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun/10 and March 17, 2pm. Through March 30. Triple Shot Productions presents Dan Wilson's video game-themed romantic comedy.
The Lisbon Traviata New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through March 24. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs Terrence McNally's play, a mix of comedy and tragedy, about the relationship between two opera fanatics.
The Motherfucker with the Hat San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post, SF; www.sfplayhouse.org. $30-70. Tue-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm). Through March 16. A fine cast makes the most of Stephen Adly Guirgis's deceptively coarse, often amusing little play, The Motherfucker with the Hat, which receives its local premiere in a sure and rowdy production from SF Playhouse. Director and designer Bill English's striking two-tier set almost belies the intimate nature of the quirky story, which concerns a hapless parolee and recovering alcoholic named Jackie (a winningly frazzled, bumptious Gabriel Marin) who retreats to his AA sponsor's apartment to pine and plot revenge after he discovers a stranger's hat in the bedroom of his longtime Puerto Rican girlfriend, Veronica (played vividly by an at once edgy and vulnerable Isabelle Ortega). But Ralph, his suave and persuasive sponsor (played with unctuous charm gilded by just a hint of ineptitude by an excellent Carl Lumbly), may not be the guy he wants in his corner. Not that Jackie can see that — he's got a man-crush on Ralph that dwarfs his already ambivalent affection for much put-upon but stalwart cousin Julio (a sharply funny Rudy Guerrero) and blinds him to the warning signals from Ralph's own disgruntled wife (a coolly disgusted Margo Hall). Throughout, these working-class New York borough dwellers display their wit and shield their soft underbellies with a rapid-fire barrage of creative swearing. English and cast display a real comfort with this kind of material (this is SF Playhouse's fourth Girguis play), which drapes its soft heart in the intimations of violence more than the real thing. If the heat and imaginative cursing also seem to cover up for a play with little dramatic purpose beyond a gentle and somewhat pat exploration of loyalty, maturity, and trust, there's pleasure to be had in the unfolding. (Avila)
Pageant: The Musical! Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $25. Thu/7-Sat/9, 8pm. Robbie Wayne Productions presents this "drag-tastic adventure through the hilarious world of beauty contests."
Sex and the City: LIVE! Rebel, 1760 Market, SF; trannyshack.com/sexandthecity. $25. Wed, 7 and 9pm. Open-ended. It seems a no-brainer. Not just the HBO series itself — that's definitely missing some gray matter — but putting it onstage as a drag show. Mais naturellement! Why was Sex and the City not conceived of as a drag show in the first place? Making the sordid not exactly palatable but somehow, I don't know, friendlier (and the canned a little cannier), Velvet Rage Productions mounts two verbatim episodes from the widely adored cable show, with Trannyshack's Heklina in a smashing portrayal of SJP's Carrie; D'Arcy Drollinger stealing much of the show as ever-randy Samantha (already more or less a gay man trapped in a woman's body); Lady Bear as an endearingly out-to-lunch Miranda; and ever assured, quick-witted Trixxie Carr as pent-up Charlotte. There's also a solid and enjoyable supporting cast courtesy of Cookie Dough, Jordan Wheeler, and Leigh Crow (as Mr. Big). That's some heavyweight talent trodding the straining boards of bar Rebel's tiny stage. The show's still two-dimensional, even in 3D, but noticeably bigger than your 50" plasma flat panel. (Avila)
Steve Seabrook: Better Than You Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Through March 22. Kurt Bodden's San Francisco Best of Fringe-winning show takes a satirical look at motivational speakers.
The Voice: One Man's Journey Into Sex Addition and Recovery Stage Werx Theater, 446 Valencia, SF; thevoice.brownpapertickets.com. $10-18. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through April 6. Ticket sales for David Kleinberg's autobiographical solo show benefit 12-step sex addiction recovery programs and other non-profits.
The Waiting Period Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $25-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through March 30. Brian Copeland (comedian, TV and radio personality, and creator-performer of the long-running solo play Not a Genuine Black Man) returns to the Marsh with a new solo, this one based on more recent and messier events` in Copeland's life. The play concerns an episode of severe depression in which he considered suicide, going so far as to purchase a handgun — the title coming from the legally mandatory 10-day period between purchasing and picking up the weapon, which leaves time for reflections and circumstances that ultimately prevent Copeland from pulling the trigger. A grim subject, but Copeland (with co-developer and director David Ford) ensures there's plenty of humor as well as frank sentiment along the way. The actor peoples the opening scene in the gun store with a comically if somewhat stereotypically rugged representative of the Second Amendment, for instance, as well as an equally familiar "doood" dude at the service counter. Afterward, we follow Copeland, a just barely coping dad, home to the house recently abandoned by his wife, and through the ordinary routines that become unbearable to the clinically depressed. Copeland also recreates interviews he's made with other survivors of suicidal depression. Telling someone about such things is vital to preventing their worst outcomes, says Copeland, and telling his own story is meant to encourage others. It's a worthy aim but only a fitfully engaging piece, since as drama it remains thin, standing at perhaps too respectful a distance from the convoluted torment and alienation at its center. Note: review from an earlier run of the same production. (Avila)
The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $8-50. Sun, 11am. Extended through March 17. The Amazing Bubble Man (a.k.a. Louis Pearl) continues his family-friendly bubble extravaganza.
Dostoevsky's The Grand Inquisitor Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; www.centralworks.org. $15-28. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through March 31. Central Works performs Gary Graves' adaptation of the story-within-a-story from The Brothers Karamazov.
The Fourth Messenger Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.thefourthmessenger.com. $23-40. Wed/6-Thu/7, 7pm; Fri/8-Sat/9, 8pm; Sun/10, 2pm. It's been some time since a work by local playwright Tanya Shaffer last graced our stages, not since 2005 to be precise, and in keeping with her penchant for multicultural themes, her latest piece, The Fourth Messenger, is a reimagining of the Siddhartha story, written as a musical in collaboration with composer Vienna Teng. Raina (Anna Ishida), a "hungry" journalism intern with a secret agenda, pitches her first scoop — the debunking of a beatific guru named Mama Sid (Annemaria Rajala) — and embeds herself in a meditation retreat where she can get close to the famously private teacher and uncover her past. Neither as humorous or as merciless as Jesus Christ Superstar or as exuberant as Godspell (though the excellent song "Monkey Mind" crackles with wit and trenchant observation, and the tender "Human Experience" genuinely uplifts), Messenger does offer a fairly solid primer to the path of spiritual enlightenment including its all-too-human fallout and sacrifices. The white-on-wood set design by Joe Ragey frames the action in a deceptively delicate layer of gauze and mystery, and the capable ensemble inhabit their multiple roles with ease — from jaded newsies to loyal disciples. Which makes it doubly unfortunate that the jazzy, piano-driven score seems pitched just outside of most of the actor's ranges, even those of the notably skilled Ishida and Rajala, an admitted distraction for the monkey-minded, which is to say most of us. (Gluckstern)
My Recollect Time South Berkeley Community Church, 1802 Fairview, Berk; (510) 788-6415. $12-25. Thu/7 and Sat/9, 8pm; Fri/8, 9pm. Inferno Theater performs Jamie Greenblatt's play about the life of former slave Mary Fields.
BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; www.improv.org. $20. "Theatresports," Fri, 8pm. Through March 29. "Double Feature," Sat, 8pm. Through March 30.
"The Buddy Club Children's Shows" Randall Museum Theater, 199 Museum Wy, SF; www.thebuddyclub.com. Sun/10, 11am. $8. Family improv with Kevin Adams' Adventure Theater.
"RAWdance presents the CONCEPT Series: 13" 66 Sanchez Studio, 66 Sanchez, SF; www.rawdance.org. Sat/9-Sun/10, 8pm (also Sun/10, 3pm). Pay what you can. An informal, intimate salon of contemporary dance with Here Now Dance Collective, Mark Foehringer Dance Project SF, Randee Paufve, and more.
"San Francisco Magic Parlor" Chancellor Hotel Union Square, 433 Powell, SF; www.sfmagicparlor.com. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Ongoing. $40. Magic vignettes with conjurer and storyteller Walt Anthony.
"Shylock" Kanbar Hall, JCCSF, 3200 California, SF; www.jccsf.org. Fri/8, 8pm. $32-45. Guy Masterson performs a solo play about Shakespeare's infamous Merchant of Venice character. *