Thru Mar. 31
It seems absurd that Impact Theatre hasn’t done “Titus Andronicus” until now. Artistic director Melissa Hillman has directed a Shakespeare play every season in the company’s pizza-parlor-basement space since 2002 (aside from the year she staged Jacobean playwright John Ford’s “‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore” instead). Devoted to a fast-paced, modern-dress aesthetic geared to show the theatre’s young audiences that Shakespeare is anything but boring, Hillman has been known to amp up the bloodshed in her productions, sometimes considerably. So the bard’s goriest and messiest tragedy should be a natural for the Impact treatment, packed as it already is with rape, murder, behanding, betonguing, filicide, cannibalism and bloody, bloody vengeance. Impact mainstay Stacz Sadowski plays the much-wronged Roman general Titus, and fierce Shotgun Players vet Anna Ishida portrays the scheming Goth queen Tamora. Blood technician Tunuviel Luv gets prominent billing alongside in-demand fight director Dave Maier, so you may want to bring a parka or something, just to be on the safe side. Visit impacttheatre.com.
Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Apr. 25–May 13
The headline version is “Mikhail Baryshnikov comes to Berkeley Rep,” but there’s much more to get excited about here than just a visit from the great Soviet-born ballet dancer and actor. This import from Moscow’s Dmitry Krymov Laboratory is based on a 1940 short story by Ivan Bunin, the first Russian to win a Nobel Prize in literature. Like Baryshnikov, who’s long been based in the United States, Bunin had fled Russia, making a new life in France. The characters of “In Paris” are in the same boat—Russian émigrés living in, well, the title may be a tip-off. A former general of the old regime (Baryshnikov) meets a waitress in a Russian restaurant (Anna Sinyakina), and the two strike up a melancholy romance. Told in Russian and French with English supertitles, the stage adaptation by experimental theatre director Krymov is accentuated with music, mime and video, so that you’ll hardly mind the lack of dance. Visit berkeleyrep.org.
Ute Lemper and Vogler Quartet
San Francisco Performances
If you look up the word “cabaret” in the dictionary, Manhattan-based German chanteuse Ute Lemper’s photo isn’t beside the definition, but maybe it should be. Her dazzling renditions of Berlin Cabaret songs, show tunes, Kurt Weill, Edith Piaf, Tom Waits, Jacques Brel, Nick Cave, Marlene Dietrich, Elvis Costello and many more have dazzled listeners both in concert and on CD, and her stage presence is bewitching. Her current concert at the Herbst Theatre, presented by San Francisco Performances, takes us back to the 1920s for a program of Weimar-era popular songs and the classical pieces they influenced, an eclectic mix of Weill, Piaf, Brel, Satie, Schulhoff, Eisler and Piazzolla. Visit sfperformances.org.
Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It
From the original Star Trek to Boston Legal, from Priceline commercials to reading Sarah Palin speeches as beat poetry on the Conan-era “Tonight Show,” William Shatner has fully embraced his campy celebrity, and the world is greatly enriched for it. Sure, people may mock the odd staccato diction of his younger years and his reputation as a prima donna, but it’s exponentially more enjoyable when he’s the one poking fun at himself. That’s why this one-man touring celebration of himself is just what the doctor ordered—though I don’t know what he’s doing ordering shows in the first place, because dammit, he’s a doctor, not an impresario. The aptly named “Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It” hits the Orpheum Theatre courtesy of SHN exactly a week after its three-week Broadway run. Visit shnsf.com.
Sam Hurwitt is editor-in-chief for Theatre Bay Area. He is also the author of The Idiolect, a blog about theater, movies, comics, media and the decline and fall of Western civilization. E-mail email@example.com.