Front Row Reviews

“Who’s-Dead McCarthy” Speaks to Our Inner Selves

Word for Word and Z Space Z Space’s artistic Word for Word program blends the genres of story-telling and theatre. Each word of a classic short story spoken as well as enacted.  In “Who’s-Dead McCarthy,” Director Paul Finocchiaro perceptively tunes into the work of renowned Irish novelist and short-story artist Kevin Barry. He then empowers … Read more

“Red Red Red” Challenges A Gay Identity

Oakland Theatre Project, known for profound experimental premiere work, has created a mesmerizing psychedelic portrait of a young, queer man attempting to reclaim his identity. Within a drab tan room, a bed slants forward on wooden pallets resting on a floor above boulders. Objects are strewn in and on milk and vegetable crates. A small … Read more

Blithe Spirit Ghostly Comedy Shines

Benicia Theatre Group resurrects Noel Coward’s charming comedy, “Blithe Spirit! What a wonderful timely enchanting gift to the Benicia community, and beyond, for their 60th year anniversary.  We are first taken by Brian Hough’s exquisite four-piece set construction, crafted with artistic flair by the talented designer, Beate Bruhl. The walls are adorned with elegant hues … Read more

“The Hello Girls” Spotlights Women Warriors  

Sonoma Arts Live “The Hello Girls” masterfully blends a first-rate musical with a tumultuous WWI offensive, showcasing five spirited and courageous women warriors. Set Designer Laurynn Malilay and Maeve Smith skillfully incorporate both orchestra and characters on stage. Three characters even play musical instruments. Four chairs face the audience, and the actors impressively animate working … Read more

“The Tutor” Exposes Cultural Repression

New Conservatory Theatre Center, 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

“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