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TBA Online: News & Features: November 2013

Lily’s Editors’ Picks: November/December 2013

Thursday, November 07, 2013  
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By Lily Janiak


Scamoramaland
Performers Under Stress
Thru Nov. 17

We’ve all heard from them: the Nigerian princess who’s been denied her inheritance, the banker whose partner was killed in a car crash and whose savings are now up for grabs. They all begin, “My dearest one”; they all end with a request for bank account numbers or a money wire; in between, the limitations of Google Translate are on flamboyant display, as is flagrant disrespect for readers’ deductive reasoning: if you’re being held captive, wealthy heiress, whence cometh your internet access? But some people actually fall for email scams, and others scam the scammers, crafting elaborate responses that are part vigilante justice and part puerile prank. Local playwright Eve Edelson’s comedy, under the direction of Neil Higgins, takes a candid look at all three groups—the fools, the thieves and the tricksters-of-thieves—complicating a portrait that’s often limited to stereotypes. Visit pustheatre.com.



Duane Lawrence and Geoffrey Colton in Scamoramaland. Photo: Scott Baker


Lily’s Other Picks

Emmett Till, a river
Theatre of Yugen
Nov. 7–17

With Kevin Simmonds and Judy Halebsky’s new play, Theatre of Yugen, which is about to celebrate its 35th anniversary, continues to use traditional Japanese Noh drama to explore more contemporary stories, this one inspired by Till, a 14-year-old boy whose savage murder helped spur the Civil Rights movement. Like much of Noh, this play, which also draws on religious oratorio, is structured as a way to grieve for and release the dead; it forces Carolyn Bryant—at whom Till supposedly whistled, provoking his murder—to reckon with her role in his tragedy while also not demonizing her. Visit theatreofyugen.org.

Red Virgin, Louise Michel and the Paris Commune of 1871
Central Works
Thru Nov. 24

For its first musical, Central Works, which focuses on developing new plays, has selected not only one of the most dramatic periods in French history—when, for two months, Parisian rebels seized their city back from the Germans to form Europe’s first democratically elected socialist government—but also one of that era’s most dramatic figures: Louise Michel (played by Anna Ishida), a female schoolteacher who became one of the movement’s most impassioned soldiers. While the book, by Gary Graves, is original, music is adapted from the period, including opera and, of course, La Marseillaise. Visit centralworks.org.

Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness
Shotgun Players
Dec. 4–Jan. 12

For the last show of its 22nd season, Shotgun offers its usual tonic for nausea-inducing holiday sentiment—this time, not without the nausea. But if Anthony Neilson’s play, which is structured as a traveling variety show from 1881, celebrates poor taste (bursting pimples feature prominently), its sundry tales also revel in the tender, the dreamlike and the tragic. It might not embrace holiday magic, but it is steeped in the magic of theatre, with Edwardian costumes by Christine Crook and outlandish props by Kirsten Royston. Visit shotgunplayers.org.


Lily Janiak is listings editor for Theatre Bay Area. E-mail her at lily@theatrebayarea.org.