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.
Assistance NOHspace, 2840 Mariposa, SF; www.opentabproductions.com. $20. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 6pm. Through March 30. Over the past three years, things we've come to expect from plucky OpenTab Productions — whose annual offerings deal in aggressively contemporary themes such as media spin, business fraud, and job (in)security — include tight ensemble acting, minimal tech, and snappy direction, and in all these regards, Assistance does not disappoint. A crew of desperate office drones whose lives basically revolve around the abuse dished out by their unseen employer, Daniel Weisinger (who may or may not resemble playwright Leslye Headland's old boss, Harvey Weinstein), hold down their airless fort, fielding calls at 11 p.m. and shirking responsibility whenever possible. Though Headland doesn't do much to make her emotionally and professionally stunted characters palatable, the capable cast and director Ben Euphrat do manage to wring something resembling humanity out of them. From Nick (Tristan Rholl,) the frustrated slacker supervisor, to Nora (Melissa Keith), the-new-girl-turned-cynical-old-hand, to Justin (Nathan Tucker), the unctuous winner of the title of "last man standing," to Jenny (Michelle Drexler) a pragmatic yet annoyingly bubbly Brit, what stands out in each performance are the perfectly captured quirky nuances and barely-concealed neuroses of people caught in the process of losing their souls. Nothing about Assistance is likely to change your view of the business world, but if you've yet to experience the frenetic fun of an OpenTab show, it's a perfect primer to the madness behind their method. (Gluckstern)
The Chairs Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor, SF; www.cuttingball.com. $20-45. 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. Tue-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through March 24. American Conservatory Theater performs George F. Walker's dark comedy about postwar living.
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.
The Great Big Also Z Space, 450 Florida, SF; www.zspace.org. $15-30. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through March 24. Mugwumpin performs a world premiere about creating a new world.
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/16-Sat/16, 8pm. 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/17, 2pm. Through March 30. With the rise of the programmer as pop culture hero, it was probably inevitable that we'd start writing plays about them too. In local playwright Dan Wilson's Just One More Game our programmer protagonist is Kent (Christopher DeJong) whose mission is to find love, and his co-player is Marjorie (Linda-Ruth Cardozo), who wields her own geek credentials like a Mortal Kombat wrath hammer. Where Wilson's comedy excels is in the witty gamer banter that defines much of their attraction and commonality — references to Zork, Oregon Trail, Dungeons and Dragons, and The Secret of Monkey Island abound, while a series of meticulous video game animations (also Wilson's) lend colorful counterpoint to the action on the stage. DeJong plays his role of emotionally-inhibited loner with a degree of laconic detachment that unfortunately eliminates all traces of chemistry between him and Cardozo, who is especially good at capturing the cheerfully aggressive awkward of a woman accustomed to being "one of the boys" because there was nothing about "the girls" she could relate to. Both the comedy and pace flag by the time the first NPCs (non-player characters) enter the room, broadly clichéd parents yammering for grandchildren and obnoxious college buddies armed with too many baby photos, who conspire to stunt the growth of Kent and Marjorie's relationship and wind up stunting the growth of the play. If the quest for love is a game, as the title suggests, it's one that could use a little more back-end development, and a much greater degree of playfulness. (Gluckstern)
A Lady and a Woman Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.therhino.org. $15-30. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through March 24. Life wasn't easy in the South of the 1890s, particularly for single black women, but in Shirlene Holmes' A Lady and a Woman the focus is emphatically on rising above circumstance. When itinerant hog-cutter Biddie Higgins (Dawn L. Troupe) swaggers into the village inn run by Miss Flora Devine (Velina Brown) and demands a room, sparks fly almost instantaneously, as the two pragmatic and independent women become drawn to the strength they see in the other. A healer and midwife as well as an innkeeper, Miss Flora has endured enough abuse at the hands of men in her life to make her grateful to be able to live without one around, while Biddie, the only daughter in a household of fourteen, has become accustomed to a life of manual labor and clandestine trysts with willing women, never sticking around one place long enough to run out of either, declaring "it's been easier to live a hard life then a lie." Both Brown and Troupe embody their multi-dimensional characters with grace and backbone, never striking a false note as their tender courtship unfolds and they discover that the greatest strength of all is the ability to love freely. (Gluckstern)
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. Wed/13-Thu/14, 7pm; Fri/15-Sat/16, 8pm (also Sat/16, 3pm). 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)
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/17, 11am. 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.
Fallaci Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-89. Opens Wed/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. 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. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through April 6. Dan Hoyle shifts his popular show about small-town America to the Marsh's Berkeley outpost.
"Adventures of a Black Girl: Traveling While Black" Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St, SF; www.brava.org. Fri/15-Sat/16, 8pm; Sun/17, 3pm. $15. Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe performs the second part of her "Adventures of a Black Girl" trilogy, this time taking a look at the impact of African migration on the black diaspora.
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.
Caroline Lugo and Carolé Acuña's Ballet Flamenco Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; www.carolinalugo.com. Sat/16 and March 24, 6:15pm. $15-19. Flamenco performance by the mother-daughter dance company, featuring live musicians.
"Dream Queens Revue" Aunt Charlie's Lounge, 133 Turk, SF; email@example.com (reservations suggested). Wed/13, 9:30pm. Free. Groovy drag with Colette LeGrande, Diva LaFever, Sophilya Leggz, and more.
"Ham Pants Productions presents Sketch Comedy and More!" Stage Werx Theatre, 446 Valencia, SF; www.hampantsproductions.com. Tue/19, 8pm. $10. Sketch comedy, music, and "general chicanery."
Labayen Dance Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF; www.dancemission.com. Fri/15-Sat/16, 8pm; Sun/17, 7:30pm. $25. The company, which blends classical and modern dance with Philippine arts, celebrates its 18th anniversary spring season with the US premiere of Enrico Labayen's Rites of Spring.
"Laughs at the Lookout" Lookout, 3600 16th St, SF; www.lookoutsf.com. Thu/14, 10pm. $10. Comedy with host Valerie Branch and performers Charlie Ballard, Ronn Vigh, Natasha Muse, and more.
"Mission Position Live" Cinecave, 1034 Valencia, SF; www.missionpositionlive.com. Thu, 8pm. Ongoing. $10. Stand-up comedy with rotating performers.
"The Next Generation of Comedy Tour" Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon, SF; www.ngoctour.com. Sat/16, 8pm. $25-65. With Ahmed Ahmed (TBS's Sullivan and Son), Assad Motavasseli, Raj Sharma, Fahim Anwar, and more. "ODC/Dance Downtown 2013" Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard, SF; www.odcdance.org. Thu/14-Sat/16 and March 22-23, 8pm; Sun/17 and March 24, 4pm; March 20-21, 7:30pm. $20. The company celebrates its 42nd season with three world premieres from Brenda Way and KT Nelson.
"Push Dance March Benefit Performance and Party" Terra Gallery and Event Venue, 511 Harrison, SF; marchbenefit.eventbrite.com. Fri/15, 7pm. $25-50. Dance performances plus a silent auction, culinary delights, and a DJ party.
"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.
"Unturtled" CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; www.counterpulse.org. Fri/15-Sat/16, 8pm. $15. The Goethe-Institut presents a conceptual performance by choreographer Isabelle Schad and visual artist Laurent Goldring. (Artist talk Wed/13, 8pm, free.)
Steven Wright Regency Ballroom, 1300 Van Ness, SF; www.theregencyballroom.com. Fri/15, 9pm. $32-47. The deadpan comedian performs.
"Incarnating for the Evening with the X-plicit Players" East Bay Media Center Performance Space, 1939 Addison, Berk; www.xplicitplayers.com. Fri/15, 8pm. $8-15. Clothing-optional event with an enactment of audience-participatory performance "Group Body," plus excerpts from the new DVD, Incarnating for an Afternoon: The Ninth Annual Nude and Breast Freedom Parade.