Arts & Events

Around & About Theater: Central Works' new Reduction in Force; SF Mime Troupe: 2012:The Musical; The Visit at Solano College (Love's Labour's Lost next)

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday August 09, 2011 - 01:24:00 PM

—Central Works' new show, "an economic comedy," Reduction in Force by Patricia Milton is onstage through the 28th at The Berkeley City Club and marks the company's 30 premiere of a new play since 1997. Directed by Gary Graves, assisted by Jan Zvaifler, with Michaela Goldhaber, John Patrick Moore and Kendra Lee Oberhauser, and Gregory Scharpen's sound design, Reduction in Force tells of the Icarus Wealth Management Group hitting the rocks & casting off ballast to stay afloat—namely "the little people"—and a career secretary finds her head on the chopping block. The audience is promised it'll witness "backstabbing, ass-kissing, survival of the sneakiest ...ageism, class warfare—and romance!" Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p. m., Sundays at 5, with a talkback this Sunday, 2315 Durant. $25-$ 14 sliding scale at the door. 558-1381; 

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—The choice part of the SF Mime Troupe's 2012: The Musical--returning to Berkeley, Live Oak Park, for free this weekend—is the self-satire by the Troupe, which has satirized everyone else over the past 51 years. Theater BAM! is offered a bail-out corporate sponsorship by ecologically sound Green Planet Inc. if they'll produce 2012: The Musical ... only to discover Green Planet's as deep into greed and corruption as the big private interests the little company of idealists go after normally.
The scene-stealer may well be at the start, with actor-writer Michael Gene Sullivan (whose script—with additional dialogue by Ellen Callas—-sometimes sounds like a Shakespeare festival gone off the tracks) appearing as Obama in red, white and blueface, held at bay by the real powers that be ...
Pat Moran and Bruce Barthol's (best-known in Berkeley as onetime member of Country Joe & The Fish) songs, the music put across by Moran's adept trio, are another, recurring high spot. Wilma Bonet directs Lizzie Calogero, Keiko Shimosato Carreiro, Cory Censoprano, Siobhan Marie Doherty, Sullivan and Victor Toman (also the choreographer) with cleverness. Emilica Sun Beahm's costumes are splashy and fun.
This Saturday and Sunday, 2 p. m. (live music starts at 1:30), Live Oak Park, Shattuck at Berryman. Free.
The Mime Troupe will also perform free, 7 p. m. (music; 6:30), Thursday August 25 at the Montclair Ball Field, 6300 Moraga Avenue (off Highway 13), Oakland--and back in Berkeley again, 2 p. m. (music at 1:30) Saturday and Sunday, September 17-18, at Willard/Ho Chi Minh Park, Hillegass & Derby. (415) 285-1717;
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—For the third item here about theater and tight finances--and resourcefulness: Last week at the Harbor Plaza Park in Suisun City, Carla Spindt, for many years one of the Bay Area's finest actors, gracefully essayed the title role in Friedrich Duerrenmatt's great absurd social comedy, The Visit (originally "The Visit of the Old Lady"), showing a super-wealthy woman's return to her economically depressed hometown--not even a whistlestop anymore--with the ravening hopes of the townspeople for her generosity to bail them out ... and the price she exacts for it: revenge, which she refers to as justice.
Great to see this gem of postwar dramaturgy and dark humor, especially with Spindt's poise in the lead ... but also because the free performances were by Solano College's theater program, where Spindt teaches (and The Visit's excellent director George Maguire is head of department)—a program which, though recently severely cut back (especially in their fine training program, a specialty of Spindt's), has somehow been able to continue performing with verve for the community.
A treat to sit in a lawn chair on a summer's eve, watching the whitefaced cast--many of them students at Solano--unfold the intricacies of small town cupidity with Duerrenmatt's wryness. (These days, Duerrenmatt may be best-known for the detective story of the same name which gave birth to the Jack Nicholson vehicle, The Pledge.) Terry Rucker and John Hale, familiar to East Bay playgoers, stood out as the Mayor of Gullen and as a shopkeeper, once old flame of the town's illustrious—and vengeful—visitor.
This week, 7:30 Wednesday-Friday at Harbor Plaza Park, off Main Street, Suisun City, near Highway 12: Love's Labour's Lost, directed by Carla Spindt. Free.