Theater

Thrillpeddlers

GOLDIES 2009: Buzzers, blackouts, spook shows, and a thrilling resuscitation of "marginal" traditions
|
()

If you dare! Venture to the Hypnodrome, home of San Francisco's Thrillpeddlers. The company is America's preeminent producer of plays from the Grand Guignol, the infamous Parisian theater that peddled thrills (if you will) from 1897-1962; the Hypnodrome, which seats 45, has been in operation for five years. The brave can choose to sit in "shock boxes" that line the theater's back row — each box is tricked out with buzzers and other devices designed to lend an extra-sensational experience. Read more »

Teeny 'Tiny'

Berkeley Rep's "Tiny Kushner" shows the towering playwright in lest than statuesque form
|
()

THEATER A reunion between Berkeley Rep artistic director Tony Taccone and playwright Tony Kushner is a notable event. This is a relationship that goes back to the original production of Angels in America, after all. Currently up: Tiny Kushner. Read more »

Night of the living theater

Sleepwalkers' Zombie Town has brains (and eats them, too!)
|
()

arts@sfbg.com

THEATER A small Texas 'burb has just suffered attack by a horde of reanimated corpses, which can happen to anyone. Read more »

Quintessence

Sins Invalid puts the spotlight on sexuality and disability
|
()

THEATER San Francisco's Brava Theatre is mostly dark, except for the spotlights on stage. Under the white light, singer Nomy Lamm's face peers out from under the beak of a vulture headpiece. She flaps her feathered wings and thrusts her hips, like she is working a hula hoop in slow motion.

"I remember the feel of your hands on my body," Lamm sings. "Makes me scream, 'Am I broken?'"

It is three weeks before the premiere of this year's Sins Invalid's performance art show of the same name, and artistic director Patty Berne sits near the back of the theater. Read more »

Musical melange

Brief Encounter and South Pacific hit low and high notes
|
()

arts@sfbg.com

STAGE Kneehigh Theatre's Noël Coward–inspired cinema-theater hybrid, Brief Encounter, the British import currently up at American Conservatory Theater, is a shrewd melding of winning formulas borrowed from more adventurous recent theatrical works as well as old-time British music hall entertainments. Read more »

Fringe follies

Sizing up SF's eclectic theater festival
|
()

a&eletters@sfbg.com

The San Francisco Fringe Festival is, like, 18 or something this year. That used to mean you were middle-aged in, like, the Middle Ages. But this is 2000-and-something. The multi-venue Exit Theatre–centered Fringe, lottery-based democratic mayhem at its most unsound and intriguing, appears as youthful as ever. Read more »

Velvet goldmine

THE QUEER ISSUE: Thrillpeddlers revive a Cockettes classic
|
()

They came from outer space (via Haight Street) sometime in 1969, and first to prominence as the palpably 3-D entr'acte between late-night underground and vintage movie reels at the old Palace Theater in North Beach. There they mounted a sort of acid-fueled, glitter-bearded, hippie drag-queen free-for-all, causing immediate convivial mayhem among the rowdy stoners there assembled. This was only the beginning. Read more »

Home run

American Hwangap a winning homecoming dramedy
|
()

In American Hwangap, Lloyd Suh's charmingly witty and gently woebegone world premiere, hwangap — the momentous 60th birthday marking completion of the astrological life cycle in Korean tradition — is occasion for a fresh start for Min Suk (an irresistibly expansive Keone Young), a former engineer and disenchanted immigrant returning home to his Texas-raised Korean American family 15 years after abandoning them and fleeing back to the old country. Read more »

Model A

Traveling Jewish Theatre's not-to-be-missed The Model Apartment
|
()

The stuff of dreams, this model apartment. And a repository for them too. Dreams, though, run in two directions, heavenward being only one. For an elderly Jewish couple from Brooklyn beginning a new chapter of their lives in mid-1980s Florida, nothing in this apartment is as it seems. Neither are they what they may first seem to us. Read more »

Climate change

How does a small, intrepid theater company survive — and thrive — in turbulent economic times? Look to SoMa's Climate Theater
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

I've heard about a fortuneteller with a tarot deck and a dead fish. I can smell the fish, but I'm daunted by the line in front of the curtain, so I wander into another room and stand before a terrycloth sculpture of some tropical beach getaway. Read more »