The Lion in Winter, LA

It’s a story as old or older as any to be found in the Old Testament: a dysfunctional family; a husband and wife at each other’s throats; adult children twitching with ambition and sibling rivalry and, of course, a pearl  ...

Not a Genuine Black Man, Berkeley

Brian Copeland has a sad story to tell. But he tells it with such wit and self-deprecating humor that his audience has been laughing through its tears. For 10 years, in fact, making “Not a Genuine Black Man” allegedly the  ...

Water by the Spoonful, San Diego

There’s an old saying that you can’t choose your family. It’s true, to some extent, but the relationships in "Water by the Spoonful" show it can be a lot more complicated. Set in Philadelphia, and pretty much everywhere else,  ...

The Tallest Tree in the Forest, LA

Paul Robeson sang the soundtrack of my childhood. I wore out two copies of his 78-rpm album, "Ballad for Americans," yet continued to play it, scratches and all. When I was about 8 years old I met him after a  ...

Tribes, Berkeley

Lovers and losers; speaking and signing; silence and sound; but, above all, family. It’s all interwoven in the intricate pattern of Nina Raine's “Tribes,” one of the best shows to come down the pike in a long, long time. As  ...

Ruth Draper’s Monologues, LA

Ruth Draper is not a household word for you? Well, you are forgiven. She was born in 1884 and performed monologues through the early 1950s. The grayest of the gray-haired in the audience may recall a moment or two of  ...

A Song at Twilight, LA

The old adage — “never tell your best friend anything you wouldn’t want your worst enemy to know” — is the armature of Noel Coward’s “A Song At Twilight,” one of the last plays he wrote (1966) before his death  ...

Les Misérables , NYC

Arnold Bennett, no stranger to the quotidian himself, once accused James Joyce of selecting the “dailiest day” as the subject of his novel Ulysses.  Les Misérables, then, could be said to concern itself with the most epical epic: it is the story of a  ...

Venus in Fur, San Francisco

Don’tcha just hate those people who, hearing of a local production of a hot new play, look down their noses and pronounce: “I saw it in New York”? “Venus in Fur”? I saw it in New York. And, while  ...

Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Berkeley

Full disclosure: I don’t much like farce. Slapstick and pratfalls and opening and slamming doors somehow never manage to tickle my funny bone. That said, I am forced to tell you that I could not stop laughing during Berkeley Rep’s  ...