Front Row Reviews

“The Tutor” Exposes Cultural Repression

New Conservatory Theatre Company, in association with Golden Thread Productions, presents Torange Yeghiazarian’s compelling Iranian/American production “The Tutor.” “The Tutor” delves into deception as a cultural defense against the terror of Tehran’s “morality laws.” Iranian immigrant, spirited 25-year-old Baran (dynamic Maya Nazzal), finds herself navigating an unfamiliar culture amid a complex situation. Recently Baran wed … Read more

“The 39 steps” sprints with suspenseful Satire

SF Playhouse breathes new life into the uproarious and fast-paced suspense, “The 39 Steps.” John Buchan adapted the play from Patrick Barlow’s 1915 thriller novel of the same name (spelled The Thirty-Nine Steps). The play incorporates elements from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 film adaptation. Director Susi Damilano skillfully preserves Hitchcock’s dry wit and lightning-fast slapstick humor. … Read more

“The Divine Sarah” Illuminates a Musical Biography

“The Divine Sarah,” presented by Ross Valley Players at the Barn Theater, brilliantly mirrors the life of the dynamic French Diva Sarah Bernhardt from the 1800s. This collaborative musical play, from its conceptualization to its world premiere on stage, has been forty years in the making. Penned by June Richards and featuring diverse musical styles … Read more

“Cost of Living” Magnifies Vulnerabilities of the Physically Disabled

 Martyna Majok’s thought-provoking play “Cost of Living,” staged at Oakland Theater Project, delves deeply into the physical constraints and emotional turmoil experienced by the physically disabled. Under Emile Whelan’s insightful direction, sentimentality gives way to raw, moment-to-moment portrayals of two couples. Whelan adeptly balances the characters’ emotions with the weighty challenges they face. The unique … Read more

“People Where They Are” Dissolves the “Us and Them” Paradigm

CATHLEEN RIDDLEY, BRADY MORALES-WOOLERY Photos by Dave Lapori Anthony Clarvoe’s powerful play at The Stage in San Jose reflects the contemporary landscape of racial and socio-economic conflicts, gun violence, and the spreading of white supremacy. But the time of the play is the 1950’s, and the place is the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee. … Read more

“Sylvia” Portrays The Bond of Canine Companionship

David Shirk (Greg), Melody Payne (Sylvia) all photos by Miller Oberlin A.R. Gurney introduces us to “Sylvia,” a canine rescue that steals the show at Sonoma Arts Live. A truth well-known to most dog owners: Introducing four-legged friends into any family inevitably alters the whole family dynamic. Sylvia, played by tail-wagging, couch-stealing, overly-affectionate human, … Read more

My Home on the Moon

Vietnamese New Year Year of the Dragon

“My Home on the Moon,” written by Minna Lee and superbly directed by Mei Ann Teo at SF Playhouse, creatively spotlights the invasion of Corporate Greed on cultural identity. The talents of Lee and Teo deliver a poignant portrayal of a Vietnamese pho restaurant struggling to save their culture from gentrification. The corporation’s star worker … Read more

“Miriam and Esther go to the Diamond District” Fails to Sparkle

Andrea Gordon’s world premiere of “Miriam and Esther go to the Diamond District” at the Magic Theatre blends a fictionalized autobiography, fantasy, opera, and dancing. The plot line is a predictable siblings-come-together-after-parent-dies tale. Miriam and Esther, daughters of a renowned pianist and opera-singing mother, find themselves back in their childhood home after the recent passing of … Read more


Fences at 6th St Playhouse

“Fences” Spotlights 1950’s Racism   Photo: Mark Anthony (Cory), Val Sinckler (Rose), and Keene Hudson (Troy). Photos: Eric Chazankin 6th Street Playhouse presents a captivating production of August Wilson’s renowned play, “Fences,” that skillfully captures the emotional landscape of the African-American experience in the 1950s. Set in 1957, the narrative revolves around the 53-year-old, edgy … Read more