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  ...

Once on This Island, Palo Alto, Calif.

Be careful what you wish for. That’s the painful lesson learned by the Little Mermaid, who famously traded her fins for legs and a faithless boyfriend. It’s learned again by Ti Moune (Salisha Thomas), the plucky but doomed heroine of  ...

No Exit, NYC

“Why, [you’re] the torturer, of course,” Inez (Jolly Abraham) says to Cradeau (Bradford Cover) as she enters Jean-Paul Sartre’s "No Exit."  He says that this is “too comic for words,” but of course he is her torturer just as she  ...

Intimacy, NY

Thomas Bradshaw is a 33-year-old black American playwright who might as well have his middle name legally changed to Provocative, because no one seems to be able to talk or write about his work without conjuring that adjective. The most  ...