Lily's Editors' Picks: March/April 2014
Monday, March 10, 2014
By Lily Janiak
Thru Apr. 6
Abigail Bengson's voice is like multiple voices. She bursts through registers in one song, dips into Norah Jones huskiness for another, and warbles, as if dipped in a well, in a third. In this "folk-rock odyssey," which she conceived, composed and now performs with Shaun Bengson, her husband and the other half of rock duo the Bengsons, that expressive range is on rich display. The show, with a book by Kate E. Ryan, direction by Anne Kauffman and choreography by Joe Goode, follows a young couple who, spurred by terminal illness, envision and then live their entire life together, six decades' worth, in 100 days. But if the premise sounds bleak, the Bengsons perform with both aching tenderness and infectious, wild joy. There is only one way to absorb the musical's titular anthem: to bop, then jump, then gleefully thrash. Visit zspace.org.
The Bengsons in Z Space's Hundred Days. Photo: Mark Leialoha
Lily's Other Picks
The Contact Project
There are veterans of war, and then there are veterans of living with and loving veterans of war. This piece, which was developed through CounterPulse's Artist Residency Commission, tells true stories from both groups (there are four military veterans in the cast). Director Krista DeNio hopes to find shared ground among people whose lives are all scarred by war, but whose different experiences of it, at the home or war front, often seem unbridgeable. The audience will be able to share, too, not just at the performance but leading up to the show, via an anonymous digital forum. Visit counterpulse.org.
I Never Lie: The Pinocchio Project
99 Stock Productions
Mar. 29–Apr. 12
For those of you who know Pinocchio mainly through Disney's rendering, you might be shocked to learn that the first, Italian version of the story, which was told episodically, is much darker (or perhaps you're not terribly shocked). In her multimedia piece about the puppet-turned-boy, writer/director Meredith Eden gets at the heart of that original vision; the focus is less on becoming a real boy than on becoming a man. It's told, with the aid of flights into multimedia and Viewpoints-based movement, by six boys stuck in a classroom who must reckon with the tale's implications for their own lives. Visit 99stockproductions.org.
Pearls Over Shanghai
Mar. 20–May 31
The Thrillpeddlers, the Bay Area's most shameless theatre company, are always a tonic for those who tire of supposedly "provocative" theatre that in reality doesn't look much different from a well-made play. For this 23-year-old company, to provoke is to skewer everything that's decent, cake it with glittery eye makeup and then cancan all over it to a dirty ditty. This musical, which was originally produced by the gender-bending troupe the Cockettes in the '70s and revived with great success a few years ago, adds yet another merry insult to common decency: a parade of ethnic stereotypes. Visit thrillpeddlers.com.
Lily Janiak is Listings Editor for Theatre Bay Area.