In the news

Newspaper headline photo

Recent coverage and accolades

Berkeley Repertory Theatre has built an international reputation for work that is adventurous, ambitious, provocative, and intelligent. Our shows aren’t just embraced by audiences and praised by critics—they’re also frequently the topic of major news stories. Here’s a look at the media’s recent coverage of Berkeley Rep…

Open all · Close all

Treasure Island

  • “This production, aside from being a faithful and skillful adaption of the book, puts the audience in the center of the action in ways that film and television could never muster…Zimmerman has powerfully captured the joy and danger and fantasy of the Stevenson’s novel…Pure fun, a potent coming-of-age story and a rollicking swashbuckler.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Awash in the whimsical stage pictures that are Zimmerman’s hallmark, this rollicking theatrical adaptation of the classic adventure is a yarn well spun…[Steven] Epp may well have been born to play the infamous buccaneer with the peg leg and the potty-mouthed parrot…suffusing Silver with equal parts swagger and desperation. His unabashedly charismatic performance captures the dualities of the iconic pirate.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “A hearty theatrical feast…[The] cast of 14 fill more than 20 roles with vitality and passion. [John] Babbo, who originated the role [of Jim Hawkins] in Chicago, delivers a performance of astonishing range and depth. All are impeccably dressed in the scruffiest, patchiest costumes imaginable, wonderfully designed by Ana Kuzmanic. Piracy has never looked so gritty.”—Huffington Post
  • “Transporting…Zimmerman gives us a fully realized fictional world complete with scary villains, violently drunken sailors, and sea shanties…It’s a play for adults that is nonetheless bound to make you feel like a kid again, and is guaranteed not to remind you of Johnny Depp.”—SFist

Macbeth

  • “A riveting experience…Frances McDormand is so thoroughly engrossing a Lady Macbeth, and so unforgettable in her sleepwalking scene…The plot takes full hold in the richly nuanced, intense mutual familiarity of McDormand and [Conleth] Hill…Hill is mesmerizing in the intimate details of Macbeth’s doubts and horrors as he wades ever deeper in blood…This has the makings of a Macbeth for the ages.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Explosive…Throbs with urgency and terror…Grabbing even a jaded modern audience by the throat from the first unholy tableau to the last beheading, Daniel Sullivan’s visceral and urgent production taps into the monstrous depths of human nature, the way people are tainted by violence and corrupted by the lust for power.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “McDormand is compelling in the sleepwalking scene…Hill humanizes Macbeth’s final act depravity, showing us a man exhausted by his own evil but left with no other choice than to go out fighting…James Carpenter uniquely individualizes three secondary roles—the clueless Duncan, the drunken Porter and Lady Macbeth’s doctor. As Banquo, [Christopher] Innvar so plausibly holds the stage as Macbeth’s equal that I’d like to see his portrayal of the Scottish tyrant one day. Korey Jackson infuses Macduff with a moral glow that galvanizes our rooting interest after Lady Macduff ([Mia] Tagano) and their son (Leon Jones) are brutally slaughtered.”—Los Angeles Times

Aubergine

  • “Sweet, savory and uncommonly nourishing, Aubergine at Berkeley Repertory Theatre is a theatrical banquet from start to finish. You’ll laugh, often. You’ll cry, maybe more than once. But most of all, you’ll probably feel fully engrossed in the people, ideas and language of playwright Julia Cho…A combination of theatrical ingredients so fulfilling that a standing ovation is in order. My compliments to all of the chefs.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Tenderly directed by Tony Taccone…Aubergine is a thoughtful new drama that satisfies the need for theater that grapples with the core of what it means to be human. It’s an unmistakably fulfilling theatrical experience.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “The play is sad, funny, insightful and deeply moving. It’s a beautiful piece of writing that has become a powerful theatrical experience directed with a strong, sensitive hand by Tony Taccone and performed by a cast that seems to fully appreciate the play’s quiet impact…It is as heartbreaking as it is life affirming, an exquisite meal prepared with superior skill and served with love.”—Theater Dogs
  • “In Aubergine, a moving new play by Julia Cho, a meal is more than a meal. It’s a form of communication, freighted with history, private meaning, hope for the future and grief for the past…Cho’s playwriting style isn’t at all ingratiating, but it lures us into caring about characters who never fail to surprise us with their simple humanity. This is a rare form of entertainment, closer perhaps to enlightenment than we are accustomed to in these days of superficial distraction. Berkeley Rep honors this touching new drama by trusting that restraint combined with sincerity is enough to keep us hooked.”—Los Angeles Times

Disgraced

  • “As devastating as are the final scenes of Disgraced at Berkeley Repertory Theatre—and Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer-winning drama is as deeply unsettling as it is thought-provoking—the act of conscience that followed the opening night curtain call, Friday, Nov. 13, was even more profoundly moving. As the applause died down, the actors stared straight ahead, fumbled for each other’s hands and bowed their heads for a simple, prolonged moment of silence. The packed, still house joined in unstated but explicit shared humanity and solidarity with the people of Paris. And, I believe, with freedom for art, thought and life itself…Disgraced doesn’t invite dispassion. It’s the story of a resolutely secular, ambitiously assimilated, second-generation Pakistani American lawyer, whose hidden—and vehemently disowned—Islamic heritage bursts back into his life with a vengeance. And it has stirred almost as much controversy as it has enthusiasm throughout a high-profile transit from Chicago in 2012 through London’s West End to Broadway…By the end of Akhtar’s tightly constructed plot, at least one career and perhaps more than one marriage lie in ruins. But the personal tragedy that’s unfolded hasn’t just been compelling on its own terms. It’s been framed to make us think about major social issues in their most deeply personal, human contexts.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “It’s the rare play that lives up to its reputation for making you think as hard as you feel. Akhtar (American Dervish) has become one of the most celebrated, and controversial, Muslim-American writers of his day because he bravely explores how his characters really feel about racial and religious taboos. He unties the thorny knots of identity, immigration and tribalism that riddle society today…Akhtar, who wrote this incendiary play as part of a seven-part series of works on Muslim-American identity, pushes every hot button he can for a bracing 85 minutes of betrayal and shifting allegiances. Senior, who also directed the play on Broadway, frames the piece beautifully so that the characters always feel real and believable even as the action descends into acts of brutality.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “A dramatic triumph…Could any work of dramatic art be more timely, more provocative, more ripe for debate right now than Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced, which is receiving a sterling production at Berkeley Rep? That would be hard to imagine.”—Huffington Post

The Hypocrites’ Pirates of Penzance

  • “Fun-fun-fun…Acoustic guitars and ukuleles blazing, beach balls flying everywhere—the party is in full swing by the time you enter Berkeley Rep’s new Osher Studio performance space…For all its madcap action, with the actors regularly advancing out over the benches—shooing audience members out of the way, temporarily, and occasionally inviting sing-alongs—and hurried pace (the whole show runs 80 minutes, with one one-minute intermission), this is actually a surprisingly faithful Pirates. Or, at least, faithful in its own fashion.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “You might say this is a very spunky model of a postmodern musical. Berkeley Rep’s presentation of this Hypocrites Theater Company revival is a giddy journey through immersive theater that turns the Gilbert and Sullivan chestnut into an outrageous evening of frisky song and silliness…This is one of the most gleefully subversive musicals to come to town in ages…If you adore the genre, you can’t help falling for this goofy reinvention. But even if you don’t know your Mikado from your HMS Pinafore, you are guaranteed to step off this loopy cruise with a smile plastered on your face…A holiday show for all seasons that actually seems joyous instead of merely entertaining…All you have to do is dive in, maties.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “This is not your great-grandparents’ Gilbert and Sullivan, and what a blessed relief that is…What the Hypocrites (an innovative and highly successful outfit from Chicago) do to G&S is sheer bliss. They honor the rollicking spirit, ensure the cleverness of the lyrics comes through and highlight the beauty of a melody when they need to. But, most importantly, they have fun with the material…It’s exuberant, enthralling and manages to be high-brow and low-brow at the same time—a rich cultural experience and a drunken brawl. There’s not a lot of theater you can say that about.”—Theater Dogs

Amélie, A New Musical

  • “A dreamy movie becomes a dream of a stage musical in Amélie, A New Musical, the blithe experiment in theatrical magic…Wit crackles and charm fills the house, emanating from the book, lyrics and melodies. Director Pam MacKinnon creates a seamless blend of visual, narrative and performance delights. And Samantha Barks inhabits the title role so luminously she might make you forget there was anyone else onstage—if the rest of the cast weren’t perfectly brilliant in turn…Increasingly captivating, starting from nine-year-old Savvy Crawford’s winningly precocious, imaginative and bright-voiced Young Amélie…culminating with…Nino, as played by a magnetic Adam Chanler-Berat, whose bright, vibrant tenor folds lovingly into Barks’ golden tones on their duets…MacKinnon and her designers deploy old- and new-fashioned stagecraft to fantastical ends…Messé and Tysen’s captivating, eclectic and almost always humor-tinged songs keep the show moving at a swift clip, propelled by musical director Kimberly Grigsby’s terrific eight-piece, onstage band…Broadway aspirations seem almost certainly involved. I’d say, go for it.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “It’s impossible not to be charmed by aspects of Daniel Messé and Nathan Tysen’s score and Craig Lucas’ (Prelude to a Kiss, The Light in the Piazza) quirky book…Barks and Chanler-Berat generate more than enough chemistry as the young lovers and their first kiss is beyond precious. It’s almost as cute as Savvy Crawford, who plays young Amélie, swinging her braids as she chats up her doomed pet goldfish, Fluffy.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “Bursts with joy, delight, imagination, talent, and tenderness.”—SF Weekly
  • “Sparkling musical comedy…slyly revels in the infinite possibilities of theatrical merrymaking. The score…flowers with originality. Barks and Chanler-Berat, both in possession of sterling voices, rise in stature when they sing. The impressive lyric writing of Tysen and Messé made me want to listen harder. The best songs mix outlandish wit with genuine feeling. It’s a credit to the enchantment of the authors and MacKinnon’s production that the storybook ending feels both earned and true.”—Los Angeles Times

Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education

  • “Transforming herself into many different people, remarkably re-created from her extensive interviews, [Anna Deavere Smith] draws indelible connections between the high rates of incarceration of marginalized youth and other national problems in a manner as eye-opening and provocative as it is sure-handed and emotionally moving…Smith weaves her interviews into an extraordinary tapestry, depicting everything from the school-to-prison pipeline, with educators and African American, Latino and Yurok youth describing how school discipline infractions land kids in jail, to ever-larger issues of public policy: how our justice system works and the trauma of growing up in crime-ridden neighborhoods…The subject grows as wide as the fabric of society, but the artistry makes the expansion work, with director Leah C. Gardiner’s smooth segues and potent use of background video clips and composer Marcus Shelby’s bluesy deep bass lines. Smith’s transformative powers are so great that you almost don’t notice how even the shape of her face changes to fit each character, as her mouth and cheeks expand to conform with the person’s speech patterns…Her portraits…are guaranteed to stick in your mind and alter your thinking long after you’ve dried your eyes.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “What’s truly radical about this piece, gently directed by Leah C. Gardiner, is that Smith outlines the issues in the first act but she turns the debate over to the audience in the second act, leaving up to us to frame the discourse…Forcing the audience to engage is a bold and ambitious move that’s nothing if not groundbreaking. And that of course is Smith’s métier…In the theater she is famed as an innovator who has striven to take documentary theater to new heights. Here she is experimenting at the crossroads of art and public policy…Unforgettable characters…”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “The overall effect of Notes from the Field is hopeful. Anna Deavere Smith is doing what she can do and doing it incredibly well. We are called upon to commit to a single action to help make change, and that’s a hopeful directive as well. But the biggest take away comes as you exit the theater full of emotion and information and with the enthusiasm to, as one of the characters puts it, step into ‘wide awakeness.’”—Theater Dogs

Best features on Berkeley Rep

About Berkeley Rep

About our new campus

About The Ground Floor

Features on Tony Taccone

Features on Susan Medak

Our shows hit it big in NY and beyond

Born in a storefront, Berkeley Rep has moved to the forefront of American theatre—and is still telling unforgettable stories. Known for its core values of innovation and excellence, the Theatre provides a safe haven for emerging and established artists to take creative risks. Many plays have their world premieres at Berkeley Rep before going on to greater success; other shows are honed in Berkeley, where actors, directors, and designers benefit from the skilled staff, experienced artisans, and educated and adventurous audience. As Tony Kushner wrote after a grueling rehearsal process, “The staff at Berkeley Rep are the platonic ideal of a theatre staff.”

Nine shows seen at Berkeley Rep have ended up on Broadway. More than 12 arrived off Broadway, two moved to London, two turned into films, and others have toured the nation. Chinglish conquered Asia with a sold-out run in Hong Kong and American Idiot landed in Tokyo and Seoul. In fact, this ambitious nonprofit has helped deliver 30 shows to New York in the last 29 years! These plays have earned five Tony Awards, seven Obie Awards, nine Drama Desk Awards, five Outer Critics Circle Awards, four Lucille Lortel Awards, a Grammy Award, and many other honors. Here’s a closer look at this remarkable track record:

Open all · Close all

2016: Head of Passes

Tarrel Alvin McCraney’s journey of family and faith, trial and tribulation wowed audiences in Berkeley. Helmed by Tina Landau, the play opened at the Public Theater in March 2016.

2014: The Pianist of Willesden Lane

After a sold-out run in the Theatre’s Thrust Stage fall 2013, The Pianist of Willesden Lane, starring internationally acclaimed pianist Mona Golabek, made its off-Broadway debut at 59E59 the following summer. Golabek’s unforgettable performance was one of the biggest hits in the Theatre’s history, selling out virtually all 52 performances of its originally scheduled engagement and all 29 performances of its extension. Its record-breaking run landed The Pianist of Willesden Lane as one of 10 shows in the last 25 years of the Theatre’s history to draw more than 30,000 patrons.

2013: No Man’s Land

Legendary actors lan McKellen and Patrick Stewart came to Berkeley Rep in August for a pre-Broadway engagement of Harold Pinter’s masterwork. Directed by Sean Mathias, the show played only 34 performances in the Roda Theatre before moving to New York in the fall to play in repertory with their revival of Waiting for Godot.

2013: The Wild Bride

In 2011, Berkeley Rep teamed up with Kneehigh for the American premiere of The Wild Bride. The show married terrific reviews with audience ovations—and extended for three weeks into 2012! That splendid reception led to a honeymoon engagement in 2013, with three more romantic weeks in the Roda Theatre, before this Bride ran away to play off Broadway at St. Ann’s Warehouse.

2012: Emotional Creature

Tony Award-winning author and activist Eve Ensler selected Berkeley Rep to stage the world premiere of a show based on her bestselling book. In June, Emotional Creature debuted in the Roda Theatre. Then, in October, the original cast began a three-month run off Broadway at the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre.

2012: In Paris

When legendary performer Mikhail Baryshnikov teamed up with other Russian artists for this romantic show, Berkeley Rep signed on to produce one of the first stops in the United States. A sold-out three week run in the Roda Theatre helped lead the show to a limited run at Lincoln Center in August.

2011: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs

In January, Mike Daisey performed a provocative play about our nation’s love affair with technology in Berkeley. Then, after runs in Seattle and Washington, DC, it received an extended run at the Public Theater. After an appearance on This American Life, Daisey found himself at the center of a controversy because he admitted to fabricating parts of his story.

2011: Ghetto Klown

Emmy and Obie Award-winning performer John Leguizamo came to Berkeley Rep in June 2010 to workshop his new solo show as part of the Fireworks Festival. This hilarious and heartfelt tale—known in Berkeley as Klass Klown—enjoyed an extended run at Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre under the moniker Ghetto Klown, earning Leguizamo the Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Solo Performance.

2011: Compulsion

Berkeley Rep and The Public commissioned this compelling script from Rinne Groff, and produced the world-premiere production with Yale Repertory Theatre. After an initial run in New Haven, Oskar Eustis refined the show at Berkeley Rep in the fall of 2010. Then he directed an extended off-Broadway run at the Public in February 2011. Forward magazine ranked Mandy Patinkin’s bravura turn as Sid Silver among the five most important Jewish performances of 2010.

2010: The Great Game: Afghanistan

The Great Game: Afghanistan, a sweeping cycle of short scripts by 12 top playwrights, caused a sensation in 2009 when it debuted at the Tricycle Theatre in London. In 2010, while Berkeley Rep sent its production of Tiny Kushner to the Tricycle, it helped produce a four-city American tour of The Great Game. After making its West Coast premiere in Berkeley, this epic show went on to play at the Skirball Cultural Center in Manhattan—and then the nation’s leaders requested a special performance in Washington, DC to educate personnel at the Pentagon!

2010: In the Wake

In conjunction with Center Theatre Group, Berkeley Rep staged the world-premiere production of In the Wake in May 2010. That fall, Lisa Kron’s script enjoyed an off-Broadway production at the Public, also directed by Leigh Silverman, with many of the same designers and actors. It ranked among the Top 10 off-Broadway shows of 2010 in The New Yorker and topped the list of the year’s best plays in Time Out New York.

2010: American Idiot

In September 2009, Berkeley Rep drew international attention when it presented the world premiere of Green Day’s American Idiot, directed by Tony Award-winner Michael Mayer. The record-breaking run brought in the biggest advance sale in the Theatre’s history, the biggest day at the box office, and 18 of the top 20 days ever. Due to ticket demand, it was extended before it even played its first performance—and it eventually ran for five extra weeks. It was no surprise, then, that it announced a Broadway transfer less than two months later. American Idiot began its Broadway run in March 2010 and quickly earned two Tony Awards, a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album, and numerous other honors.

2009: In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)

Berkeley Rep commissioned this stimulating script from MacArthur genius Sarah Ruhl. Associate Artistic Director Les Waters staged its world premiere in the Roda Theatre in January; then both artists made their Broadway debuts when Lincoln Center Theater produced the show at the Lyceum that fall. In the Next Room was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. USA Today named it Best Play of the Year, The New Yorker proclaimed it the Top Moment in Theatre for 2009, and the New York Times declared it one of “the four best new plays to be produced in New York this year.”

2009: Wishful Drinking

After an initial run in Los Angeles, Hollywood legend Carrie Fisher came to Berkeley Rep to work on her solo show with Artistic Director Tony Taccone. In 2008, Wishful Drinking broke box office records during its extended run in Berkeley. Then it became a New York Times bestseller and played for sold-out crowds on a seven-city national tour. When the pair brought this outrageous show to Broadway, it received rave reviews and played an extended run at Roundabout Theatre’s Studio 54. Fisher won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Solo Performance and then turned the show into a popular HBO film.

2008: Taking Over

In 2007, Danny Hoch came to Berkeley Rep to workshop his first new solo show in 10 years with Tony Taccone. In 2008, the world premiere of the resulting work enjoyed an acclaimed, extended run in Berkeley before the pair launched it on a national tour, which included free shows in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx as part of the Hip-Hop Theater Festival and an extended off-Broadway run in Manhattan at the Public. Taking Over won the Los Angeles Critics Circle Award for Best Solo Performance in 2010.

2007: Passing Strange

The provocative rock musical created by Stew and Heidi Rodewald made its world premiere at Berkeley Rep in 2006. A co-production with The Public, it enjoyed an extended off-Broadway run in 2007 and then transferred uptown in 2008 to Broadway’s Belasco Theatre with its original cast intact. Berkeley Rep was one of the proud producers of this Broadway run, which earned Stew a Tony Award for Best Book. Passing Strange also won three Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, two Obie Awards including Best New American Theatre Piece, four Audelco Awards including Best Musical, and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical. The show made the annual Top 10 list in many prominent papers—and so did the cult film directed by Spike Lee when it came out in 2009.

2007: Eurydice

Associate Artistic Director Les Waters staged Sarah Ruhl’s script at Berkeley Rep before bringing it to Yale Rep and Second Stage Theatre in Manhattan. The New York Times named the New Haven production one of the Top 10 Plays of 2006, and Time magazine placed the New York production among the Top 10 Plays of 2007.

2006: Brundibar

Two legendary artists—Tony Kushner and Maurice Sendak—brought their storybook to life with a gorgeous show that featured a 10-person cast, a 13-person orchestra, and a 29-voice children’s choir. The production, staged by Artistic Director Tony Taccone, debuted at Berkeley Rep before traveling to Yale Rep and the New Victory Theater in New York. Its sold-out Manhattan run was nominated for two Drama Desk Awards.

2006: Bridge & Tunnel

After its record-breaking off-Broadway run, Artistic Director Tony Taccone workshopped this show with Sarah Jones at Berkeley Rep before they took it to Broadway. It earned universal praise from the press, extended its run at the Helen Hayes Theatre for five months, and won a Tony Award for its star.

2002: 36 Views

Mark Wing-Davey directed the world premiere of Naomi Iizuka’s script at Berkeley Rep, and then the show played off Broadway in a co-production with the Public.

2001: Metamorphoses

Berkeley Rep helped Mary Zimmerman fully realize her vision for this show’s West Coast premiere. Only the second staging of her unforgettable play, this new production moved to the Mark Taper Forum and then to New York. It played off Broadway and then transferred to Broadway, where Mary earned a well-deserved Tony Award. The show also won four Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding New Play, three Lucille Lortel Awards including Outstanding Play, the Drama League Award for Best Play, the Obie Award for Direction, and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Direction of a Play.

1998: Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop

Directed by Jo Bonney, Danny Hoch’s solo show made its world premiere at Berkeley Rep before heading to P.S. 122 in New York and 45 cities worldwide. It eventually became a cult film.

1997: Alligator Tales

Performed at Berkeley Rep under the titles Hurricane and Mauvais Temps, these two solo shows from Anne Galjour—the latter a world premiere—won the annual Will Glickman Award given to the best new play to debut in the San Francisco Bay Area. The scripts were combined to create Alligator Tales, which was staged at Manhattan Theatre Club and Seattle Rep by Sharon Ott, Berkeley Rep’s artistic director at the time.

1997: Ballad of Yachiyo

When Berkeley Rep commissioned Ballad of Yachiyo by Philip Kan Gotanda, it received the AT&T: Onstage Award, becoming the only theatre to earn this honor four times. Sharon Ott’s production—which the Village Voice proclaimed “mesmerizing”—journeyed to the Public, Seattle Rep, and South Coast Rep.

1992: Dragonwings

Berkeley Rep commissioned an adaptation of this bestselling children’s book from Laurence Yep and produced its world premiere. Originally intended for a small tour of local schools, Dragonwings became a holiday hit in Berkeley. It went on to enjoy an 11-week East Coast tour produced by the Kennedy Center and the Lincoln Center Institute. The show also traveled to Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

1992: Dream of a Common Language

Immediately after making its world premiere at Berkeley Rep, supported by an AT&T: Onstage Award, Heather MacDonald’s play was performed at Women’s Project in Manhattan.

1990: Each Day Dies with Sleep

Berkeley Rep received its first AT&T: Onstage Award to support the world premiere of Each Day Dies with Sleep, directed by Roberta Levitow. José Rivera’s script called for 10,000 unmatched socks, which the company solicited from local folks who were unlucky in laundry. When the show transferred to New York in a co-production with Circle Rep, all those Berkeley socks made their off-Broadway debut!

1990: Prelude to a Kiss

Craig Lucas and Norman René staged Prelude to a Kiss at Berkeley Rep in 1988, preparing it for an off-Broadway run. The play featured an unknown actress named Mary-Louise Parker, who earned a career-launching Tony nomination when Kiss graduated to Broadway. Her Berkeley co-star, Sydney Walker, didn’t travel to New York—but he reprised his role on film with Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan. Prelude to a Kiss won three Obie Awards, including Best New American Play, and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play.

1989: Yankee Dawg You Die

Philip Kan Gotanda’s breakthrough script made its world premiere in Berkeley. Staged by Artistic Director Sharon Ott, the show was remounted at the Los Angeles Theatre Center and Playwrights Horizons. Starting a tradition that would continue with later productions—such as American Idiot, Bridge & Tunnel, Eurydice, Passing Strange, and In the Next RoomYankee Dawg You Die received strong reviews in the New York Times and The New Yorker when it landed in Manhattan.

1987: Hard Times

When the Joyce Theatre Foundation decided to expose New Yorkers to the best stage work from other cities, it presented an 11-week festival at Theater 890 called the American Theatre Exchange. Berkeley Rep’s production of Hard Times, directed by Richard E.T. White, was one of only four shows chosen for the festival. The New York Times called it “exciting and witty theater.”

Please note: The year listed above indicates when each show first reached New York.

Acclaim for our organization

Open all · Close all

About Berkeley Rep

  • “Berkeley Rep occupies two sleek, custom-built theaters. Gone are the days when actors had to dash outside and down an alley to enter on the stage’s far side. Yet under Tony Taccone, who is just its third artistic director in four decades, the company continues to pride itself on producing provocative, often overtly political theater, the kind that generates loud and clamorous debate…Berkeley Rep has a tradition of playing host to formidable talents before their big breaks, like Anna Deavere Smith, Mary Zimmerman, and Mary-Louise Parker. And it has long been a leader in producing writers of color. In recent years Mr. Taccone has put his weight behind producing another underserved group: emerging writers, including Stew, Ms. Ruhl (a recent recipient of a MacArthur ‘genius’ grant), and Jordan Harrison. Mr. Taccone’s approach—to offer emerging writers the same resources as established ones and to hold them to the same standards—has helped yield a string of hits. He is also able to offer new plays a very educated, broad-minded audience…And artists appreciate Berkeley Rep’s intimate 600- and 400-seat theatres, in which no seat is more than 49 feet from the stage…Increasingly, Berkeley Rep’s galvanizing productions have been traveling to New York. The rock musical Passing Strange, which opened on Broadway on Thursday, is the fourth show in two years with Berkeley lineage to transfer to a major New York stage…It is a striking body of work, a reminder of the importance of regional theaters as feeders to New York.”—Joy Goodwin, New York Times
  • “With a well-deserved reputation for producing a steady stream of challenging work that earned it the 1997 Tony Award for outstanding regional theater, Berkeley Rep continues to confound expectations…Founded in 1968, the Rep has grown into one heavyweight regional theater.”—Sam Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle
  • “One of the more adventurous American theatrical enterprises outside of New York.”—David Littlejohn, Wall Street Journal
  • “Berkeley Rep, which won a Tony Award in 1997 for outstanding regional theater, was begun in a storefront by some university graduate students in 1968…It soon became a cultural tradition in Berkeley, with a yearly offering of seven or eight plays, a mix of classic and contemporary works…By design, it’s an eclectic and wide-ranging program.”—Bernard Weinraub, New York Times
  • “Known for stellar productions of the works of contemporary playwrights with political bents.”—Jean Schiffman, Variety
  • “In the past 10 years, Berkeley Rep has gained a national reputation as a theatre on the cutting edge of artistic expression.“—Chad Jones, Oakland Tribune
  • “One could see this string of accomplishments as inevitable, given the quality of the artists who seek out Taccone’s talent, or as the hard-earned culmination of a career as one of American theatre’s most versatile and generous collaborators.”—Ellen McLaughlin, American Theatre
  • “Berkeley Rep rules. Yeah, yeah, way to state the obvious, I know. This may be old news in these parts but the East Coast is just now catching on to the trend.”—Karen D’Souza, San Jose Mercury News
  • “It can’t be true that every old script that Berkeley Repertory Theatre touches turns to gold. It just seems that way.”—Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Examiner
  • “Let’s not quibble…Nobody’s perfect…But Berkeley Rep comes close with more consistency than any theatre in the region.”—Leo Stutzin, Modesto Bee
  • “Berkeley Rep offers visually outstanding stagings, top-notch tech, strong performances, great new scripts, and anti-war politics.”—Tom Kelly, SF Bay Times
  • “Berkeley Rep is the Bay Area’s most consistently excellent theater company.”—Judy Richter, Aisle Say
  • “Had I my druthers, every play would run at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, easily the most theatregoer-friendly house in the Bay Area.”—Gerald Nachman, San Francisco Chronicle

About the Downtown Berkeley Arts District

  • “What is happening is the transformation of some forlorn streets of empty buildings and auto body shops into a potentially flourishing neighborhood anchored by a sleek new 600-seat theater that is the second stage for the 400-seat Berkeley Repertory Theatre…With the opening of the $20 million theater, which adjoins, via a courtyard, the older one, the Addison Street neighborhood is pulsing with activity…The second theater [is] the nucleus of a revitalized downtown.”—Bernard Weinraub, New York Times
  • “The new $20 million Berkeley Repertory Theatre is the anchor in downtown Berkeley’s revival.”—Kim Severson, San Francisco Chronicle
  • “It’s been a long struggle to make downtown Berkeley come alive again, and Berkeley Rep has been the driving force that has turned its block of Addison Street into an official, city-supported Downtown Arts District. That in turn has generated the growth of theater and live music attractions nearby.”—Robert Taylor, Contra Costa Times
  • “Artistic Director Tony Taccone and Managing Director Susan Medak met the challenge of creating a larger theater without sacrificing the intimacy for which Berkeley Rep is known and admired…Berkeley Rep’s two-theatre complex, along with the adjacent new Nevo Education Center, forms the lynchpin to the city’s emerging arts district.”—Belinda Taylor, Callboard
  • “Art envelops you in this town. On Addison Street, you can read poetry etched in the sidewalk, view paintings in a parking garage, catch a show at three stages run by two outstanding theater companies and hear some hot music at one of the nation’s only schools devoted entirely to jazz. And that’s just in one block.”—Sunset Magazine
  • “A world-class stage, state-of-the-art sound and lighting, brilliant acoustics and great sightlines…The new stage will help the theater operation look as brawny as its reputation. The relatively small Berkeley Rep, and its original 360-seat house, has an enormous reputation throughout the country, along with the regional Tony Award it received in 1997…The new theater will be the keystone of Berkeley’s new Addison Street Arts District, and Berkeley Rep will be a major player, not only with the two theaters, but with a new educational facility as well, located just on the other side of the existing theater.”—Pat Craig, Contra Costa Times

About the Roda Theatre

  • “The vast stage—which can be reconfigured, lighted and set in an almost infinite number of ways—is remarkably intimate. With long ranks of seats facing forward, clear sightlines and acoustics and nothing in the house to distract you, the play is definitely the thing.”—David Littlejohn, Wall Street Journal
  • “When the burgundy curtain rose, The Roda got down to business and did what it will clearly do best for years to come. The new theater became a strikingly responsive instrument, tuned to the actors and spectacle on stage. The relationship of audience to art is everything the Rep had hoped it would be…a stunningly big picture on intimate terms…Lines spoken in a husky whisper carry cleanly to the back of the house…The deep cherry-wood wall surfaces and a towering airspace crowned with lofty catwalks and exposed air ducts vanish into plush darkness when the house lights go down. The show, as it always should be, is the thing.”—Steven Winn, San Francisco Chronicle
  • “It’s certainly not too early to sing the praises of the newly dubbed Roda Theatre: it’s a warm, elegant, vibrant space that manages to combine scale and intimacy, featuring great acoustics and a state-of-the-art proscenium that makes some truly striking stage imagery possible. As performances spaces in the Bay Area disappear at an alarming rate, this handsome brand-new theater is little short of a miracle.”—Brad Rosenstein, SF Bay Guardian
  • “The new theater and the arts development along Addison Street signals an eastward shift in the Bay Area theater scene. The theater already had a national reputation, winning a regional Tony Award in 1997. Now it’s getting facilities to match…The new, 27,000-square-foot auditorium features state-of-the-art lighting and acoustics, great views from every seat, and a design heavy on wood-textured concrete and real wood…Berkeley Rep is the centerpiece.”—Tony Hicks, Contra Costa Times
  • “Check out the spacious yet intimate new theater and all of its bells and whistles: a 90-foot scenery storage tower, state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems and—something of which Berkeley Rep is extremely proud—13 stalls in the women’s room. But if you’re not a woman, please knock before going in.”—Chad Jones, Oakland Tribune
  • “The most dominant characteristic of the company’s new proscenium theater is its intimacy…its design whispers Berkeley. With an architectural flavor that at times suggests the Maybeck style—think Craftsman crossbred with Frank Lloyd Wright—the theater [has] a rawness and elegance that is undeniably East Bay.”—Mark de la Viña, San Jose Mercury News
  • “In 1968, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre occupied a simple storefront. Things have changed since then: This month, a new three-story, 600-seat theater premieres with a grand-opening dinner and a performance of The Oresteia. The addition joins an existing 401-seat facility as well as a theater school in the Nevo Education Center next door. Together, the three comprise a true performance complex on the Addison Street arts corridor in downtown Berkeley.”—Chiori Santiago, Sunset Magazine
  • “For a year and a half, the 2000 block of Addison Street has been a hive of activity, reminiscent of the bustle and community involvement that attended the construction of medieval cathedrals…Politics and enlightened citizenry can be found in the gifts that have helped make the theatre possible: $4 million from the City of Berkeley, $2 million from Ask Jeeves, Inc., and a spectacular sound system by the world-famous Berkeley-based Meyer Sound Laboratories…The ingenious design from ELS Architects keeps the audience close to the action. No seat is farther than 49 feet from the stage, and the stage itself is large, with capacious trap room below and fly room above, increasing scenic possibilities.”—Belinda Taylor, Performing Arts Magazine
  • “Yes, it’s going to be different, but it’s going to be a good different. The Rep has made every effort to retain the things that matter most to its dedicated audience: intimacy, clarity, and a lack of pretension…even the cheap-ticket SRO area is going to be a better ‘seat’ than you can find in the expensive part of certain other theatres.”—Lisa Drostova, East Bay Express
  • “Indeed, the closeness of the boxes and the loge to the stage lend the intimately scaled site the feel of a European jewel box theater…The mixed elements of stone and wood evoke Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Waters house. The theater is masculine and majestic in its strong lines and rough textures…Entering the tech booth, there’s a feeling you’ve stepped into the cockpit of the starship Enterprise. The sleekly molded console is studded with gazillions of sliding buttons and gadgets.”—Pamela Fisher, San Francisco Examiner
  • “Berkeley Repertory Theatre has created a classic of its own: a facility capable of housing epic productions while maintaining the intimacy between actor and viewer that is live theater’s greatest reason for existence…Even viewers at the rear of the orchestra or mezzanine should be able to see every grin and grimace without resorting to binoculars: No seat is more than 49 feet from the stage…The two stages will give the company a one-two punch in theatrical flexibility.”—Leo Stutzin, Modesto Bee
  • “Berkeley Repertory Theatre has sprouted wings and Bay Area theatergoers will be uplifted as well in the sleek new theater that seats 600 but has the same intimate feel as the one next door.”—Lee Brady, Pacific Sun
  • “A lovely 600-seat proscenium theater with a huge stage opening and terrific sight lines.”—Erika Milvy, Santa Rosa Press Democrat
  • “Berkeley Rep has given the Bay Area the glorious gift of a major new theatrical venue…the expansive stage of the new Roda Theatre. The auditorium itself, a hard-edged modernist take on traditional proscenium theatres, proves a surprisingly intimate companion to such a large stage.”—Richard Dodds, Bay Area Reporter

Artists applaud Berkeley Rep

“At Berkeley Rep, I feel like a wanderer who has finally come home.”—Rita Moreno, legendary actress

“Working with Tony Taccone has been an intense, enlightening, fortifying experience…My creative partner, Steve Colman, and I have learned more about our own process through our collaborations with Tony than with anyone else. His generosity, passion, and dedication to the craft of honest expression are but a few of his many gifts. In other words, we think he kicks ass.”—Sarah Jones, Tony Award-winning solo performer

“Seeing a show at Berkeley Rep changed my life.”—Tom Hanks, Academy Award-winning actor

“Berkeley Rep was one of the first theatres in the country to do my work, ten years before it became ‘known.’ They have been big enough for experiments, but savvy enough to become a mainstay of American arts. They are the symbol of their generation: an exemplary one!”—Anna Deavere Smith, playwright, performer and MacArthur genius

“Tony [Taccone] is one of my oldest friends. We’ve done seven shows now, and I love the theatre he’s built. Any chance I get to work at Berkeley, I take it.”—Tony Kushner, Tony- and Pulitizer-winning playwright

“Berkeley Rep is a really amazing place to make art. I feel like I won the creativity and community lottery by getting to make a piece here…I would be the Berkeley Rep’s pool boy. Just to get to work here.”—Julie Wolf, composer and music director

“Rock and roll with extra hot sauce on it, baby! Che Guevera would be pleased, and he would probably be a subscriber. ¡Viva Berkeley Rep!”—Culture Clash, homegrown comedy troupe

“Berkeley was a comfort zone for us. I mean, we throw a lot of references at people—art history, literature, politics, language jokes. And we’re thinking, ‘If anybody’s going to get all this, it’s these people.’ Do you realize that there’s a homeless book club in Berkeley? If you’re going to throw a bag of cultural references at people, this is the place to do it.”—Stew, creator of Passing Strange

“I like [Taccone’s] pugnaciousness. I like that he knows what he wants to do. Any artist these days who is brave enough to stand up for what he wants to do and not buckle, that’s rarer than the ivory-billed woodpecker.”—Maurice Sendak, beloved children’s author

“Working at Berkeley Rep is like playing with the smart kids: fun, challenging, surprising and fulfilling. There is a unique alchemy of audience and artists and staff at play here, and that makes it a magnetic operation.”—Lisa Peterson, Obie Award-winning director

“It gave me the opportunity to learn my craft as an actor. How better can you do that than by working in a repertory company for 10 years?”—Joe Spano, actor and Emmy nominee

“Berkeley Rep has been a West Coast home for my work, and I can’t think of another theatre that would be daring enough to help us realize a performance that is both epic in scale and extremely intimate in scope. Audiences here have always been receptive to new work that tests conventional wisdom.”—Mike Daisey, popular solo performer

“Berkeley Rep! O lucky me! A support system for comedy!”—Geoff Hoyle, renowned clown

“Berkeley Rep is home and always new cultural territory—as an artist I’m proud to be part of its life and growth.”—Sharon Lockwood, veteran Bay Area actor

“I remember when Michael Leibert announced he was going to make a professional repertory theatre in Berkeley, all the faculty at Berkeley—we were in grad school—all the professors said, ‘That’s crazy. You’ll never pull it off.’ But Michael just kept trucking. We were just flying by the seat of our pants, so it’s nice to know that all that work built a theatre that will last forever.”—Holly Barron, leading lady from Berkeley Rep’s early days

Praise for past productions

Season 2014–15

Open all · Close all

One Man, Two Guvnors

  • “The skiffle band music is so joyous that you’re smiling before the comedy at Berkeley Rep even begins. The farce that follows, Richard Bean’s madcap One Man, Two Guvnors, is a near fail-safe recipe for hilarity. Best of all, the entire cast, under the scintillating direction of David Ivers, keeps the theater rocking with laughter for more than two hours. It’s a triumph…an anything-goes combination of high, low and just plain bad-taste humor executed with pinpoint precision and a generous looseness. Dan Donohue embodies all those approaches in a full-scale expect-the-unexpected performance as the servant of two masters…Donohue fills the role as if born to it…But he’s supported by such a deft and nimbly comic ensemble that it’s impossible to give due credit to all…”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Carlo Goldoni’s commedia dell’arte classic, The Servant of Two Masters, gets a ditsy spin in this smash hit English adaptation of the 18th-century rib tickler…This lively take on Guvnors is thoroughly amusing…a loopy homage to pratfalls that ricochet from giggles to groans with zany panache…Doors are slammed, identities mistaken and wits scrambled in this full-throttle knee slapper…The most hysterical bits are usually [Dan] Donohue’s ad-libs, and there are some delectable rounds of audience participation…Suffice to say that there’s a rollicking sense of fun from start to finish…[Director David] Ivers…makes sure the production matches the energy and verve of the onstage skiffle band, a Fab Four facsimile…Perhaps the most effective musical number is the closing song, in which each character regales us with a part of the story we’ve just seen. Not that the plot or theme matters a whit in this goofy fable. The laugh’s the thing here.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “Loosen your belts. While Berkeley Rep’s One Man, Two Guvnors won’t bust your sides, the West Coast premiere of this play based on an 18th-century classic will keep you laughing on three levels for 2.65 hours. When was the last time the numbers added up like that? Directed with marvelous madness by David Ivers…Operating at full throttle from high- to low-brow comedy, a superior cast crushes it—like a baseball player’s grand slam…The collective genius—which made the production a hit on Broadway, and set a high bar for Ivers’ California version—is undeniable. Let’s just say the sum of the parts is so good you forget just how good it is, and just give in to the frivolity.”—SF Weekly
  • “Oh, if only all adaptations could be this fun. When playwright Richard Bean decided to pull Carlo Goldoni’s 18th-century comedy into a specific time and place in the 20th century—Brighton, England, 1963—he did so with an eye to heightening and broadening the comedy from its Venetian origins…At the center of the party is Oregon Shakespeare Festival staple Dan Donohue as Francis, the hungry clown who finds himself working for two masters…Donohue is part Conan O’Brien (the ginger part), part Peter Sellers, part VW full of circus clowns (all of them). He’s adept at the physical comedy…but he’s also a wonderful actor and makes Francis endearing in his stupidity and hunger…Though Donohue offers a dynamic star turn, he’s really part of an intricate, carefully calibrated comedy machine. The whole cast…works effectively as a team to bust guts and keep the momentum rolling to the clap-along, sing-along ending.”—Theater Dogs
  • “The entire theatrical patchwork quilt—and 15-member acting ensemble—made me grin, smile, chortle and laugh—from beginning to end…as Francis Henshall, [Dan Donohue]’s what I’ll describe as a farce of nature. He’s as skilled, exquisitely timed and rubber-bodied a clown as Pickle Family grads Bill Irwin or Geoff Hoyle, which is high praise indeed.”—Marinscope
  • “Berkeley Rep in a co-production with South Coast Repertory Theatre closes out their 2014–2015 season with an unqualified hit of Richard Bean’s adaptation of Carlo Goldini’s 17th century masterful farce The Servant of Two Masters. Every creative aspect of what makes theatre great is on display…Every one of those actors earn accolades, along with the star of the show Dan Donohue whose mobile body, expressive face and perfect comedic timing are hilarious and a joy to watch. It is certain that parts of those routines are aided by the fantastic direction of David Ivers, keeping the nonstop action in sync with the hysterical entrance and exits needed for farce with the obligatory slamming of doors and pratfalls.”—For All Events

Head of Passes

  • “Big risks yield epic dramatic riches for playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney in the West Coast premiere of Head of Passes, a turbulent tale of near biblical proportions—and resonance…Cheryl Lynn Bruce incorporates the dogged patience of Job with the rage of Lear on the heath, in an overpowering Bay Area debut at the head of a no-less impressive cast, in director Tina Landau’s shattering production. ‚ÄčThis is a drama of a massive crisis of faith in a sprawling old home built on land that’s sinking into the Gulf of Mexico. McCraney started writing Passes with improvisations based on Job. That initial impulse bears breathtakingly rich fruit in the mesmerizing poetry and Bruce’s tour de force performance in the second act…The effect is riveting. The impact will linger long in your memory.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Deeply compelling…a daring work that melds the primal and the mysterious in unexpectedly probing ways…there’s no denying the poetry and insight of McCraney’s voice. G.W. Skip Mercier’s gobsmacking set design thrusts the elemental force of nature to the core of the theatrical event.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “McCraney…is the kind of writer who blends real-world storytelling with elements of poetry and spirit to create a heightened theatrical language that conjures a world that looks and often feels like our own but then expands or contracts to feel epic or microscopic depending on the dramatic situation. McCraney has a true gift, and it’s thrilling to fall into one of his plays. Head of Passes is an immersive experience in every way. The story McCraney unspools begins in the realm of classic American family drama—it feels like rich territory trod by O’Neill, Miller, Wilson and the like—but then becomes wholly McCraney in Act 2 when Shelah must deal with the wrath of God. Director Tina Landau also delivers an astonishing physical production that drowns Berkeley Rep’s Thrust Stage in rain, flood and rising tides. Head of Passes will long stand in memory as a powerful piece of American drama.”—Theater Dogs
  • “A stunning production…Every one of the performances is spot-on, effectively shaping distinct personalities who give credible, affecting and sometimes amusing shape to McCraney’s tale, which was inspired by the Book of Job. But this is Shelah’s drama, and Bruce dispatches it with heart, power and conviction that is as close to biblical as we’re likely to see on a stage. It’s a tour-de-force to remember, in an expertly crafted play.”—Huffington Post
  • “It’s well worth spending time with this one! Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney nails the tension that goes with living in what amounts to a wildlife preserve, where forces far more powerful than our paltry human endeavors are always at work. Performed by a cast with killer acting chops…‘Powerful’ doesn’t begin to describe [Cheryl Lynn Bruce’s] character or her performance.”—Stark Insider

Tartuffe

  • “Revelatory…You may have seen funnier versions of Molière’s great satire on cunningly self-serving public piety, but it’s unlikely you’ll ever experience one that bites more deeply or sticks to your mind’s ribs longer than this bracingly comic, edgily somber and transgressive product of the ingenious director Dominique Serrand and actor Steven Epp. Rapacious religiosity has never appeared so seductively and smoothly reptilian as in Epp’s performance in the title role, nor obstinate gullibility so exasperatingly, willingly obtuse as in Luverne Seifert’s true-believing Orgon, the wealthy citizen who’s become Tartuffe’s patron and chief target. An arched eyebrow has rarely conveyed such eloquent sadder-but-wiser understanding as the right brow of Sofia Jean Gomez’s Elmire, Orgon’s beautiful, beleaguered wife. Epp’s Tartuffe is an ever-more unstoppable force of quick sophistry, oh-so-pious greed and tongue-lolling lust. Serrand and company lace their Tartuffe with an ambiguity that provides plenty of food for thought on top of the nourishing helpings of entertainment.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “[A] dangerously smart romp…Epp is as magnetic as ever onstage as Tartuffe works his age-old con game. Dressed like a perverse high priest in robes with a cutout bodice, Tartuffe trusts no one and teases everyone. Epp’s python-like movements give way to a ballet of physical virtuosity that’s nearly hypnotizing, particularly framed by [Dominique] Serrand and Tom Buderwitz’s intimidatingly elegant set with its clean classical lines. Serrand and Epp, formerly of the Theatre de la Jeune troupe, have long been famous for their ingenuity, their gift for defying expectations with startling juxtapositions of style and tone…For the most part this Tartuffe targets the brain more than the funny bone. Serrand has something deadly serious in mind when it comes to the nature of gender, the architecture of power and the thrall of corruption, and that’s what makes this Tartuffe so arresting.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “Molière’s Tartuffe is so damn funny…and dark…and unsettling. Serrand’s production is tightly focused and performed with astonishing vehemence. This is comedy played at operatic levels, and it works…When we finally meet Tartuffe, there’s been such build-up of both a pious and profane nature that it would seem the actual man couldn’t help but disappoint. But Tartuffe is played by Steven Epp, one of the most capable actor/clown/otherworldly forces on the American stage…Serrand’s Tartuffe is what we’ve come to expect from the former head of the late, great Theatre de la Jeune Lune: gorgeous to look at, even better to experience the emotional thrill ride from laugh-out-loud comedy to shocking reality to outrageously delicious bad behavior. It’s easy to imagine that Molière himself would be pleased.”—Theater Dogs

X’s and O’s (A Football Love Story)

  • “Judging by the standing ovation at Friday’s opening, anyone who loves football might want to rush to see Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s world premiere of X’s and O’s…Handsomely and smoothly directed by Tony Taccone, X’s unfolds on a round stage that looks like a sports-talk TV set, with multiple small and large screens…In the most dramatically effective scene, [Jenny] Mercein—a strong presence in several roles—and [Marilee] Talkington play two very different widows of former players, their fond memories of the early years of their marriages gradually giving way to the deep pain of their spouses’ rapid declines, increasing mental instability and early deaths. Their monologues are movingly interwoven with another by Eddie Ray Jackson as BJ, a son remembering his once-carefree late father go through the same process.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Eye-opening, unnerving yet entertaining…Even if you are not a football fan, it’s hard not to be moved…X’s and O’s is like the game itself: Some of the hits are so hard, they’ll make you uncomfortable, but you won’t want to stop watching! Taccone keeps the testimony moving at the speed of a two-minute drill, and the mix of wide-ranging interviews also touches on NFL history, popular culture and some colorful players’ anecdotes…[Former 49er Dwight Hicks] proves a nimble, empathetic and knowing story teller. When he recounts the sometimes violent experiences of a former player (interview subjects are identified by fictitious names), you can sense his attachment to the story.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “For all the zippy fun in the play—and there’s plenty—this is a play that says loving something blindly or madly is ultimately irresponsible if you’re not also considering the bigger picture. That X’s and O’s asks us to seriously consider the duality of football—its value, its cost, its cultural relevance—is a significant matter. It is a play that makes you think…A deep, rich topic…Credit director Tony Taccone with providing just enough flash with the stadium lights and the near-constant video projections to balance with the generally strong performances from his energetic cast of six.”—Theater Dogs
  • “These x’s and o’s will have you blowing kisses…From the very first moments, the balletic slow motion accompanied by the soundtrack of cheers and electric visuals ropes you in for what will be an entrancing 85 minute ride…Every lighting cue and every sound cue work to heighten this realism and transform the Berkeley Rep’s thrust stage.”—Stark Insider
  • X’s and O’s certainly deserves to be seen. Whether you’re a rabid fan or someone who watches the Super Bowl just for the commercials, there’s enough pathos, humor, and humanity here to engage and delight! Six actors play a multitude of roles, and all give sincere, empathic performances…Special note is due ex-49er Dwight Hicks, whose portrayal of a fellow former player is hysterically funny and delightfully honest, and Eddie Ray Jackson, who steals the show with a vibrantly energetic turn as an 11th-grade high school player.”—Talkin’ Broadway

Red Hot Patriot

  • “A love-fest! The speaker is Kathleen Turner, using her considerable stage presence to convey the heft and sting of Ivins’ writings in Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins. Most of the words are by Ivins, and they had the audience roaring with laughter at Tuesday’s opening…Turner—a solid presence in blue denim work shirt, jeans and flaming red hair—delivers her lines with a half-gracious, half-defiant Texas twang and timing that makes the wit land with comic precision.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Turner exudes charm and self-assurance as Ivins, the staccato rhythm of her breathy diction landing deftly on the punch lines…What really comes across is the aforementioned ‘kick-ass wit’ of Ivins in one pithy zinger after another. Anyone who could say of a congressman, ‘if his IQ slips any lower, we’ll have to water him twice a day,’ is going to be a hoot to listen to for an hour or so.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “A moving memorial to a one-of-a-kind American who was unafraid to be a frickin’ pain in the ass to people in power…Turner’s Ivins essentially takes us through her life as a reporter, columnist and author, all the while sticking it to the establishment and trying (in vain) to alert the world that people with the last name Bush should not be allowed to run the country. There are, of course, many hearty laughs…delightful!”—Theater Dogs

Party People

  • “As intellectually stimulating as its fluid, nonstop action is overwhelming…Fast, confrontational, reflective by turns, and packed with music and dance as propulsive as the years when the groups were spawned…Volatile, fiery choreography and spirit-moving blues, jazz, work-song and Latino songs…Showstopping numbers…A well-deserved, prolonged standing ovation…Power to the people, indeed!”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Thrilling…A relentlessly kinetic musical memoir about the ambitions and regrets of 1960s revolutionaries…Powerful and raw…Millicent Johnnie’s choreography is haunting, evoking complicated themes with simple movements. The music, which incorporates salsa, hip-hop, gospel and blues, is flat-out hypnotic…Let the production wash over you like a jagged theatrical collage, [and] Party People will leave its mark on you.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “As relevant and as thought-provoking as it is, Party People is also mightily entertaining…From the extraordinary opening musical number that creates historical context for this intertwining story of the Panthers and the Lords, we become caught up in the flow of revolutionary zeal…The audience was instantly on its collective feet at show’s end, applauding thunderously, shouting and hooting.”—Theater Dogs
  • “This show is all about feeling and, more generally, humanity…Takes the standard musical formula and completely rips it up, unceremonious shreds it to pieces, and thankfully refuses to acknowledge the restrictions of standard theater convention. And thank our lucky stars for that. This is pure adrenaline.”—Stark Insider
  • “People can (and should) debate how Party People stands as a political statement, but as a piece of theater it’s a crusher. Maybe it’s all too much for Oregon, but the Berkeley crowd ate it up. And why shouldn’t they? The show is good for: Revolutionaries, bystanders and regretful sellouts alike. The show is not good for: The Man.”—Edge San Francisco
  • “You’re in for an exhilarating evening…Under the direction of Liesl Tommy, the evening’s insistent and infectious music, including the hip-hop (of which I confess, I am not a fan), the choreography, scenic and lighting design, camera projection and general stage craft are all original and all first rate. The talented actors make the topnotch writing come alive. Party People has outstanding visceral, emotional and intellectual impact. That’s very rare in one piece of theater.”—Berkeleyside

An Audience with Meow Meow

  • “Ferociously entertaining…This is musical theater as an act of subversion in fishnets and heels…Part burlesque, part Brechtian parable, this 100-minute deconstructed cabaret act—backed by two male dancers and a four-piece band—trades in the explosive nature of the unexpected…Imagine Dame Edna crossed with Hedwig and Ute Lemper in a gleefully bawdy lounge act…There’s no denying the allure of Meow Meow’s purrfectly calibrated diva persona. The Weimar-style vamp-cum-comedian fancies herself the ‘Mother Courage of performance art.’ Armed with an impressive voice and limber stage antics, she seems to be giving her all to tickle us, and that’s hard to resist.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area New Group
  • “An Australian singer with a remarkably flexible, full voice and a wide-eyed elfin-vamp persona, Meow Meow seems to specialize in cabaret teetering on the brink of comically self-inflicted disaster…She’s a sexy, long-legged chanteuse…She’s a picture of alluring grace one moment and a klutz clambering up on stage the next, with the funniest way of getting up out of a split that I’ve ever seen…A compelling and uniquely gifted performer!”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “90 minutes of increasingly dire wardrobe malfunctions, technical mishaps, injured dancers, fleeing musicians, and a producer who literally pulls the plug. But still the show must go on, happily for us!”—Bay Area Reporter
  • “The songs cover a wide ground, and Meow Meow delivers them brilliantly. Jacques Brel’s ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ and Harry Warren’s ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ are show-stoppers. ‘Itsy Bitsy,’ delivered in English, French and ‘Eastern European,’ is hilarious. Original songs by Iain Grandage, Thomas Lauderdale and Meow Meow are delightful surprises. Just as surprising is how poignant Meow Meow can be. The emotional atmosphere of An Audience turns on a dime. When she sings ‘Be Careful’ by Patty Griffin, this diva can break your heart.”—San Francisco Examiner
  • “Meow Meow is really something, whether she’s being an adept physical comedian, a post-apocalyptic cabaret star or just an emotionally astute singer standing before a crowd. To be in her audience is to be in for a rich, rambunctious experience.”—Theater Dogs
  • “She’s bawdy and brash, tender and vulnerable; she’s graceful and klutzy, commanding and helpless. She’s a singer who hits every vocal nuance, whether serious or satiric; a high-energy dancer who could probably double as a contortionist; a comic who draws roars from pratfalls, subtle glances, punchlines and sensuality. She calls herself Meow Meow and—need I say this after that lead-in—she’s wonderful.”—Huffington Post
  • “Delightful, with some truly hilarious audience interactions…Along the way she delivers compelling and often hysterical renditions of songs from Jacques Brel to Bertolt Brecht, from Patti Griffin to Radiohead, accompanied by a sharp onstage quartet led by pianist/arranger Lance Horne.”—KQED Arts
  • “Prepare to have your preconceptions, and your mind, blown away…One of those unique theatrical events that come along all too rarely. This special experience, one truly shared between artist and audience, is love at first sight…A melding of Joan Collins, Lady Gaga, Lucille Ball, and Liza Minnelli on steroids, Meow Meow is as uncategorizable as she is dazzlingly unpredictable…Rarely have I seen a performer connect with an audience on this level.”—Stage and Cinema

Season 2013–14

Open all · Close all

Monsieur Chopin

  • “The acclaimed playwright-performer is back at Berkeley Rep with a one-man show devoted to Chopin…Briskly directed by Joel Zwick, Chopin blends music and anecdote, history and humor, as Felder, in character as Chopin throughout, recounts the story—or, at least, hits the highs and lows…from the Polish composer’s birth, in 1810 near Warsaw, to his death, at age 39, in Paris…Music is the constant thread, a lifelong passion that produced some of the most dazzling solo piano works ever written…When Felder turns to the piano, Monsieur Chopin is enchanting. As the evening drew to a close, Felder played the composer’s great Polonaise in A-Flat Major, bringing out the work’s Romantic sensitivity and rhythmic drive. In moments like that, genius seemed an apt description.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “The solo show-concert is in the same league, perhaps even better, than his equally beguiling, similarly formatted presentations on George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein…Felder masterfully mixes history, anecdotes and emotion throughout.”—San Francisco Examiner

Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro

  • “Plaintively framed by the song “Somewhere,” Maestro is a portrait of the successful artist who regards himself as a failure…[Felder] picks up the rhythms and inflections of a somewhat older Bernstein so smoothly that he has the audience in the palm of his hand…[and] keeps us there with a blend of biography, humor, piano virtuosity, pathos and musical appreciation…There are rich, deftly performed and resonant passages of great music—by Bernstein, Beethoven, Wagner, Copland, Grieg and more…Delightful.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Felder orchestrated a similar homage to musical genius in George Gershwin Alone last year. Now he returns to Berkeley Repertory Theatre with another charmer that tickles the ivories and the funny bone. While this piece shares many characteristics with that breezy Gershwin monologue, there’s far more dramatic heft to this one-man show…Felder crystallizes the watershed moments in the maestro’s life with poetry and sensitivity. Certainly the songs, particularly the selections from “West Side Story,” are as magical as ever.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “A tour de force that fuses speech, song and pianistic brilliance into a captivating vignette of one of the towering figures of 20th century American music…It’s also hilarious at times, and awe-inspiring in Felder’s unfolding of a compelling narrative while hitting every note of a varied, complex and difficult score.”—Huffington Post
  • “Felder reaches new depths of writing, acting and musical talents in Maestro. He displays an uncanny ability to capture Bernstein’s mercurial personality, melodious voice, scornful expression and fluid body movements, all while playing Bernstein’s own compositions as well as his favorite composers’ piano pieces.”—Berkeleyside

The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide…

  • “You know you’re in the hands of Tony Kushner when the characters are wrestling with big ideas in fraught situations, the laughter is plentiful and you leave feeling smarter than you were before. Such is the case with the West Coast premiere of The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures…It’s a richly rewarding and stimulating experience.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Thrilling…His genius stems from his ability to illuminate ideas that might seem impossibly unwieldy to lesser minds…The playwright locks horns with the essential questions of class, history and politics that have always anchored his work. Only this time the narrative is an almost four-hour family drama that echoes Arthur Miller and Anton Chekhov but is uniquely Kushnerian in its marriage of poetry and politics. In its long-awaited West Coast premiere at Berkeley Rep, it’s an astonishing achievement that’s as thrilling and provocative as it is challenging…As ever, Kushner leaves you with your heart in your mouth and your mind on fire—and that’s priceless.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “Kushner has an ingenious collaborator in Berkeley Rep Artistic Director Tony Taccone…Crafting the massive ache of the play’s emotional tornado requires deftness and dexterity: Taccone has both.”—SF Weekly
  • “Director Tony Taccone manages to deliver a nearly four-hour production that is never dull (I’ve seen many shorter plays that seemed much longer) and is, by turns, exasperating, fascinating, gripping and, in moments, mind blowing. Taccone’s long relationship with Kushner stretches back to the commissioning of Angels, and it seems Taccone is exactly the right director to layer Kushner’s word- and intellect-rich script with reality and theatricality…It’s challenging and rewarding in equal measure. And it’s funny.”—Theater Dogs
  • “Berkeley Rep’s artistic director Tony Taccone’s almost 40-year history with Tony Kushner (he commissioned Kushner’s Angels in America) has led to Taccone’s expert understanding of Kushner’s works. In addition to Taccone’s talent, Kushner’s creative genius, a marvelous cast of actors, especially Mark Margolis and Deirdre Lovejoy, and an outstanding scenic design by Christopher Barreca, all combine to leave audience challenged, fascinated, excited and wanting more.”—Berkeleyside

Not a Genuine Black Man

  • “Personal, painful and often hilarious…Episodes of cruelty, humiliation, struggle and resilience punctuate the narrative, delivered most often with the innocence and bewilderment of a child, and generating laugh after laugh, before reflection…Copeland’s skill (and presumably that of collaborator/director David Ford) gives the narrative a seamless flow. It’s at once familiar and unique, funny and painful and poignant.”—Huffington Post
  • “Copeland has that special blend of comedy and drama; his show is amusing and ardent.”—SF Weekly

Tribes

  • “Sometimes it’s as hard to keep up with what’s being said as what’s being signed in Nina Raine’s Tribes, the international hit that opened Wednesday at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. That’s part of the point of Raine’s funny, emotionally fraught play. Communication is a messy business at best, sometimes even more so within tribes than between them…One tribe is defined by deafness, another by academia and others simply by family. Loyalties are fierce and boundaries guarded, but less distinct than they might appear. Her central protagonist, Billy, inhabits all three tribes with varying degrees of ease in a brilliantly articulated performance by James Caverly…Caverly, a National Theatre of the Deaf actor who’s played Billy in Boston and Washington, D.C., provides a solid foundation for the story and Raine’s evocative themes. As the performers probe the ways in which we pretend to ‘hear’ less—and more—than we do, the differences between what can be expressed in speech and signs, or levels of empathetic deafness, Tribes grows more intellectually and emotionally compelling.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Immensely pleasurable…Nina Raine’s penetrating new play forces us to hear the world differently…The critically acclaimed domestic drama revolves around a deaf young man reared by a chaotically verbal family. Sensitively directed by Jonathan Moscone, the play both explores how the deaf experience of the world and suggests that all language limits our ability to communicate shades of truth…As a deconstruction of language, Tribes resonates loud and clear.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “What Billy hears and doesn’t hear, says and doesn’t say, is at the heart of the new Berkeley Repertory Theatre production of Tribes. Nina Raine’s provocative and often very funny drama, vibrantly staged by director Jonathan Moscone in its regional premiere, considers what happens when Billy decides to seek a new conversation…In its exploration of what it means to connect, to be heard, to belong, Raines’ drama of speech and silence rings true.”—San Francisco Examiner
  • “There is not another drama about family, about communication, about the very essence of language like Nina Raine’s Tribes. The 2010 British play now on Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Thrust Stage is among the funniest, most moving and deeply engaging shows we’re likely to see this year…Words—spoken, signed, whispered or unspoken—and emotions run deep, which is ultimately why Tribes is so powerful and its echoes reverberate long after the final scene.”—Theater Dogs
  • “If Act I is filled with tremendous humor and horribly cruel conversations that manage also to be funny, then Act II is where the comic cover is lifted and the underlying bugs are unleashed…Director Jonathan Moscone instinctively (and adeptly) steers toward the heart of this family drama. The play may be about finding one’s people, one’s tribe, but Moscone never forgets how the alchemy of human desire, thrown into the cauldron of a family, creates a volatile potion that is the play’s centerpoint.”—SF Weekly

Accidental Death of an Anarchist

  • “Breathtakingly funny…Steven Epp doesn’t tell jokes. He embodies one comic morsel after another or several on top of each other so thickly that your brain can’t possibly keep up because you’re laughing too hard. And he’s far from alone in the hilarious ensemble of the Accidental Death of an Anarchist that opened Wednesday at Berkeley Repertory Theatre…It’s a feast of foolishness…farce as a potent political act.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “The shtick hits the fan with a vengeance…Was it a suicide, an accident or a case of police brutality? The Nobel-winning Fo riffed on the incident in this laser-sharp satire on the death of civil rights, the rise of the rampant corruption and the need to overthrow the status quo…Lest we think that issues of the abuse of power and the distraction of the masses are more relevant to the past than the present, Bayes and Epp jam the revival full of timely references…its political fire is undeniable!”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “The laughs come at regular intervals in Accidental Death of an Anarchist. So do the sight gags, physical shtick, political jabs and topical references in the new Berkeley Repertory Theatre production of this sharp and very funny political farce by Nobel Prize-winning playwright Dario Fo…A brilliantly calibrated staging…Act 2 hits a high note of hilarity!”—San Francisco Examiner
  • “Spectacularly hilarious…There’s no arguing about the cast’s genius at extracting laughs from bleak encounters. Its six members pull out all the stops of physical comedy: mugging, pratfalling, colliding, tripping over each other, singing, dancing and flaunting the flexibility of acrobats while propelling the story with breakneck abandon…A laugh riot!”—Huffington Post
  • “Extremely funny and incisive…As breezy, uproarious, and meaningful as a political satire can be!”—SFist

The House that will not Stand

  • “There’s nothing like a steaming pot of gumbo to spice up a play—especially the way Harriett D. Foy prepares it in the world premiere of Marcus Gardley’s The House that will not Stand…Singing ingredients at her witchly cauldron in the African-derived rhythms of Creole voodoo, Foy’s household slave Makeda stirs as much gumption into the show as she does into that pot…Foy’s magnetically plainspoken and voodoo-infused Makeda is the slave of Lizan Mitchell’s elegant, peremptory Beartrice. Beartrice’s wealthy live-in lover Lazare has just died (Ray Reinhardt is a delightfully vital, opinionated corpse), and she has to secure the futures of their three ‘ripe’ teenage daughters…Sex, slavery, mothering and a clash between the new and the old are prime ingredients…multiple plot strands and rich mix of history, ghosts, gorgeous flights of rhetoric and music…vivid flights of language…razor-sharp verbal cuts…Gardley’s skill in depicting racial issues is dramatically rich…House is invigoratingly evocative.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Witty dialogue, an electric cast, and hearty servings of lust, murder, voodoo, jealousy, and intrigue in the Big Easy…a dazzling and rousing experience!”—East Bay Express
  • “In The House that will not Stand, the Oakland native unearths a slice of the rich and eccentric history of New Orleans, specifically the 19th century practice of plaçage and the prestige it gave to a class of aristocratic free women of color…Gardley’s drama transports Lorca’s classic tale The House of Bernarda Alba into the heart of Creole culture. This epic is set in 1836, not long after the city was the scene of the largest slave rebellion in American history. During this period, free black women could make common law marriages to wealthy white men. If the men died, they could even inherit grand houses and dazzling fortunes. Before the Louisiana Purchase, they were said to own most of the city…Alas, Beartrice Albans (a formidable Lizan Mitchell) has no such luck. When her man, Lazare (Ray Reinhardt), passes away, there is a white wife waiting to steal her house and the dowries—and, therefore, the futures of Beartrice’s three daughters—right out from under Beartrice…Gardley has written some dazzling bursts of bon mots with which Beartrice entrances her foes, and Mitchell wields wit like a rapier.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group

Man in a Case

  • “Baryshnikov shines…Mikhail Baryshnikov and Tymberly Canale light up the stage as smitten and unlucky lovers—with more points of light than one can count—in the luminous Man in a Case that opened Sunday at Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theatre. The characters are Chekhov’s. The mesmerizing Big Dance Theater blend of acting, movement, video and music is by adapter-directors Paul Lazar and Annie-B Parson. There are so many elements of pure pleasure emanating from the stage that it’s hard to know where to focus one’s eyes or ears. But the heart of these poignant, remarkably uplifting tales of misplaced or thwarted love is in the multifaceted interactions between Canale and Baryshnikov.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Mikhail Baryshnikov prances away with our hearts yet again in Man in a Case. The greatest dancer of his generation is more of a thespian here than anything else but there is still a world of magic to the quality of his movement. The ballet icon’s lithe presence adds electricity to this whimsical deconstruction of two Anton Chekhov stories, “Man in a Case” and “About Love.” Cheekily adapted by Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar of the New York-based Big Dance Theater, this delicate 75-minute gem marries the edge of experimental theater with the melancholy of the Chekhovian impulse.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “A small play with a huge heart…Any tale of love by Anton Chekhov is bound to be a sad tale—put two together and the shapes of sadness multiply. Adapt them for the stage and present them with grace, invention and deep humanity, as Mikhail Baryshnikov and a small company of actor-dancers are doing in Man in a Case, and sadness assumes an unusually compelling allure.”—Huffington Post

Tristan & Yseult

  • “An age-old tragic love triangle is made fresh and enchantingly vital in the Tristan & Yseult that opened Tuesday at Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theatre. It’s also filled with all the remarkably inventive, eye-catching theatricality we’ve come to expect from England’s Kneehigh company, not to mention freewheeling comedy…Another great gift from the imaginative adapter-director Emma Rice and Kneehigh…Much of the tale is a raucous, bawdy adventure in the Cornish Wild West…Passion erupts gloriously…There are puppets. There are bits of sing-along and other audience participation. Often, Tristan is as immersive as a very enjoyable party. But it’s also a tale very smartly told…A gem!”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Wildly exciting…This is one of those rare shows that not only satisfies any possible theatrical demands, but has you grinning like an idiot and occasionally on the verge of tears, all in two hours…There are no particular rules in this world that marries comedy, theater, acrobatics, live music and—in the case of Tristan—an ancient story of star-crossed lovers…We’ve seen this sort of story a million times. But here, it is only the beginning of the show. It is embellished, decorated, gilded, wallpapered, flashed back, filled with a joyous array of music, sung, danced and basically dolled up as your ticket to a first-class flight of fancy!”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “Kneehigh isn’t interested in you merely enjoying the show—although it succeeds swimmingly there as well—but in thoroughly enveloping you in its weird and wonderful world. To that effect, Tristan & Yseult is the vehicle for that transformation, and it is entertainment at its best and brightest…Tristan & Yseult creates a collision of spectacle storytelling, circus, music, dance, and comedy to delight and challenge our conception of what ‘theater’ can be. The result is as jubilant and fun as it is moving and heartfelt…Do yourself a favor and go see it.”—East Bay Express
  • “There are only so many love stories—love gained, love lost, love unrequited—and so many variations. How, then, do you make the story fresh? How do you reignite the passions and make your audience feel it all anew? The shortest answer to that query is: let Kneehigh tell the story…A landmark show…In addition to the acrobatics and some fun dancing, Kneehigh’s bag of tricks includes some spectacular music, most of it live…There’s much to love in Tristan & Yseult, and the performances are full of surprises and depth.”—Theater Dogs

The Pianist of Willesden Lane

  • “An astonishing tour de force…Mona Golabek doesn’t just tell a great story. Seated at a concert grand, she accompanies her tale with music that infuses, illustrates, amplifies and elevates The Pianist of Willesden Lane to make the personal universal and another generation so personal that you can’t help but feel your heart swell in response. Great music can do that. Skillfully blended with an affecting tale, it can do even more. If there was a dry eye in the house at Wednesday’s Berkeley Repertory Theatre opening, my own were too filled with tears to see it…The first movement—brilliantly, probingly performed by Golabek—sets up the fraught conditions in 1938 Vienna. The second intensifies the dramatic perils of the Blitz. The third brings the piece to its passionate resolution…Stunningly good.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Deeply moving…Pianist strikes a deep chord in its audience because it uses the power of music to reveal the fragility of humanity. Based on a book by Golabek and Lee Cohen, it’s a deeply moving elegy for a family struggling to hold onto what they value amid the chaos of war…There’s no denying the intensity of her narrative, the ache of her family legacy. To be sure, she’s got an endearing, matter-of-fact air that belies the tragedy of her tale. And her mastery as a musician lends to the emotional ferocity of the play, its depth and sweep. As she sits at the Steinway, communing with the mysteries of Bach and Debussy, history turns into a symphony.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “Remarkable…What makes it so powerful as a theater piece is the music in combination with the story. Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor features prominently in this tale, but we also hear some Beethoven, Debussy, Chopin, Bach and even a little Gershwin, among others. The music is infused with emotion generated by the story itself but also by the act of Golabek reaching through history and her family tree to connect, musically, with her mother and grandmother and their powerful stories.”—Theater Dogs

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

  • San Francisco Chronicle feature
  • “Misery loves comedy…Nobody can make misery funnier than comic treasure Sharon Lockwood. As Sonia, the spinster left behind to care for dying parents at the rural homestead, Lockwood shares every momentary grievance, lifelong resentment and gloomy expectation with sidesplitting earnestness. She’s even funnier when she stops kvetching, breaking an enforced silence with a sigh. She’s perfectly matched in Richard E.T. White’s effortlessly charming production by Anthony Fusco and Lorri Holt as her siblings—adoptive, as everyone points out—Vanya and Masha. The names aren’t the only things Durang’s borrowed from Chekhov. Personalities, situations, plot developments, lines and themes derive from a bountiful mash-up of Chekhov’s four major plays with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Ingmar Bergman, the Beatles, Old Yeller, the Oresteia and Maggie Smith thrown in…Hilarious!”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Smartly directed by Richard E.T. White, this outrageous romp is a hoot and half…Christopher Durang’s madcap fantasia on Russian themes is so over the top that it’s inside out…The playwright, famed for his flair with farce from The Marriage of Bette and Boo to Beyond Therapy, packs the uber-absurd plot with so many belly laughs that the wistfulness at the core of the hijinks is all the more poignant…The sincerity of Durang’s fondness for his eccentric characters and the honesty of his discontent with the ‘now’ lends the otherwise goofy plot a sense of gravity. Global warming, short attention spans and the tyranny of pop culture all come under fire as these quirky characters ponder what the future holds, not just for themselves, but for a civilization uncertain how to reinvent itself in the face of cataclysmic change.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “Roars from start to finish…The production boasts performances that play ridiculousness to the hilt and performers who seem to revel in every moment of it…Despite the excesses, the three central figures in the six-character play rise above mere caricature. Beneath all the fun and frolic, they’re capable of redemption and affection, as Chekhov’s people were. And the other three deliver a superabundance of silliness through speech, movement and mugging…It’s a wonderful start to the season.”—Huffington Post
  • “Durang shows us just how funny unhappiness can be. Directed by Richard E.T. White, a top-notch cast assumes characters of Chekhovian proportions to take a freewheeling ride through contemporary angst…White’s well-timed production reaches its comic zenith as the characters dress for a neighbor’s costume party. But the director keeps the laughs coming throughout.”—San Francisco Examiner
  • “The entire cast is a delight, but there’s special pleasure in watching Fusco and Lockwood and Holt bring their unique talents to bear in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, a zany family comedy with the zing of sparkling wine and, thanks to marvelous actors, the occasional tang of real champagne.”—Theater Dogs

No Man’s Land

  • “Listening to Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart state, bandy and insinuate the language of Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land is like hearing master cellists perform a Bach cantata. Watching them inhabit the silences eloquently elaborates the comedy and treacherous drama. With Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley in the supporting roles, the veritable all-star production that opened Sunday at Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theatre is a master class in Pinter performance. And a very enjoyable one at that…Director Sean Mathias, who also staged McKellen and Stewart’s highly praised Godot in London, orchestrates the action with a delicate touch and a fine eye for sly physical comedy…Stooped, careworn and uncomfortably conscious of his epically rumpled gray suit—with white shoes and socks—McKellen is almost unrecognizable from previous roles. His walk is a vivid combination of a shamble and the body’s ill-remembered impression of a light step…Stewart is every bit as impressive, whether sitting stolidly in his armchair, anticipating his next drink or gingerly placing a foot to balance his unsteady walk to the liquor cabinet…Crudup and Hensley add the expected undercurrent of unstated, smiling menace; and each excels in his own arias and physical bits…Pinter’s themes of unreliable memory, inherent loneliness and evasive truths revolve within the repeating circles of Stephen Brimson Lewis’ imposingly grand, spare, curved set. But these four actors make the immersion in Pinteresque futility memorable and edgily joyous.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Feels like a gift from theater gods…Directed by the estimable Sean Mathias, this is a rich symphony in Pinter played by two virtuosos of the theater…Our guides on this voyage into the void are Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, two peerless interpreters of Pinter’s infamous ambiguity…Both McKellen and Stewart parse the text with equal portions gravitas and grace. The enigmas are as sly as ever but each moment also feels grounded in an achingly real sense of truth and humor…Mathias keeps the audience on tenterhooks as the actors nimbly navigate the play’s sharp switchbacks in tone and subtext…There’s no denying the power of this eerie narrative to haunt the imagination…From the first night cap to the last toast, this is a booze-soaked aria in pauses that speak volumes and stares that will stop your heart…Exquisite!”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and No Man’s Land are a brilliant match. In the new revival of Harold Pinter’s play at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the legendary actors give a thrilling master class in the existential drama and mordant humor battling for supremacy in this groundbreaking 20th century work…This New York-bound production, deftly directed by Sean Mathias and buoyed by the considerable star power of its two leading men, casts a mesmerizing spell.”—San Francisco Examiner
  • “What pure theatrical pleasure it is to spend two hours in the baffling world of playwright Harold Pinter with Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart as our guides. These two fascinating craftsmen, under the direction of the equally astute Sean Mathias, are a show unto themselves in the choices they make, the characters they draw and the relationships they forge with each other and with the audience. No Man’s Land may be about some sort of limbo between the vibrancy of youth and the incapacity of old age (or, more simply, between living life and just waiting for death), but in truth, it’s a masterful workshop in which gifted thespians practice their craft.”—Theater Dogs

Season 2012–13

Open all · Close all

George Gershwin Alone

  • Interview on KPFA-FM
  • “Simply glorious…The incomparable genius of George Gershwin lights up Berkeley Rep…Felder’s show, which he’s been touring internationally since 2000—including Broadway and West End runs—is a cavalcade of immortal standards: “I Got Rhythm,” “The Man I Love,” “Fascinating Rhythm,” “‘S Wonderful,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” not to mention selections from Porgy and Bess, An American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue…Felder is a terrific musician. His fingers fly over the keys with pinpoint precision and Gershwin-like dynamism…He enriches the presentation with enlightening musicology material as well…A delight from beginning to end.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “A heartfelt valentine to the American songbook that goes down as smoothly as a bourbon Manhattan with a bright red cherry on top. As a tuneful antidote to a weary world, George Gershwin Alone…is pretty darn close to s’wonderful…The mind-boggling depth and breadth of Gershwin’s catalog is reverently showcased here. Buoyantly directed by Joel Zwick (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), Gershwin zips along from the composer’s salad days to his biggest triumphs…He’s got rhythm, and he’s got music as he channels the genius of Gershwin for almost two hours. Who could ask for anything more?”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group

Dear Elizabeth

  • San Francisco Chronicle feature
  • Interview on Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Off the Shelf
  • “Watching poets, even eminent poets, read and write to each other shouldn’t be half as gripping as playwright Sarah Ruhl and director Les Waters make it in Dear Elizabeth…with more intellectual, artistic and emotional vigor than might be expected in any epistolary drama. It’s her artful selection from the letters and poems, combined with Waters’ inventive stagings, that makes the words take flight. It’s a treat simply to have Ruhl and Waters…working together again at the Rep, home of his memorable stagings of her Eurydice and In the Next Room (or the vibrator play). The West Coast premiere…works best when their collaborative efforts make the complicated, distant relationship between the poets come alive in the imagery they use and details from their lives. Annie Smart’s elongated room of a set transforms itself from academic haunts to domestic study or Library of Congress. Then it exerts sheer magic, as she and Waters bring poetic metaphors to life in remarkable stage effects—the most exciting of which elaborates on a similar effect in Eurydice.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Certainly Ruhl’s gentle treatment of the poems, the way she finds the breathing space between life and art, can’t be overpraised. She crystallizes the magic of what is left unsaid and the piercing intimacy of regret in one beguiling passage after another. The playwright and director live up to their reputation for plumbing the unspoken in quiet moments filled with yearning…At its best, the play captures both the enchantment of poetry and the alienation of reality in equal measure…Ruhl and Waters have an affinity for stage pictures that radiate quiet longing (Eurydice, Three Sisters) and never is this quality more apparent than in the elegiac Dear Elizabeth…Nelis nails Lowell’s charmingly rumpled attempts at wooing but also his volatility…Fisher speaks volumes with Bishop’s wry looks of appraisal and the way she scrambles for the bottle of hooch hidden in the bookshelves. These two gifted actors sweep us away in the tide of time as youth slips away and mortality casts its long shadow. The vulnerability of the performances is startling.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “Waters and Ruhl could easily have sat their poets at a table (Love Letters style) and had them read. But there’s a lot more to this production, which is exactly what we’ve come to expect of the dynamic Waters–Ruhl pairing we’ve seen at Berkeley Rep in Eurydice and In the Next Room (or the vibrator play). In two acts and running just under two hours, we are treated to a sort of visual poetry from Annie Smart’s surprise-laden set washed with color and mood by Russell Champa’s gorgeous lights…a placid piece of theater, filled with lovely, lively writing and gorgeous images…Fisher and Nelis have warm chemistry with one another, and Fisher especially conveys the tremendous intelligence and complex emotional life of Bishop with an understated but heartfelt performance.”—Theater Dogs
  • “Leave it to playwright Sarah Ruhl (In the Next Room (the Vibrator Play), Dead Man’s Cell Phone) to dust off the genre and present it with fresh, articulate power in the form of Dear Elizabeth…she and director Les Waters have crafted a piece of theater in which we are allowed to see and hear each character’s yearnings, joys, and sorrows, and occasionally watch them touch each other beyond space and time, between letters…[A] powerful piece that would appeal to any romantic who’s shed a tear over someone who got away.”—SFist
  • “The poems of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell have never sounded so fresh and beautiful. But it’s their letters that dazzle in Dear Elizabeth…Those who come to Dear Elizabeth expecting a dry and dusty recounting of literary history may be surprised at the yearning and intensity of the lives of these poets.”—San Francisco Examiner
  • “The core of [Dear Elizabeth], the correspondence itself, is handled remarkably well. Ruhl weaves the letters together so they play like a conversation…It’s a touching portrait of a friendship between two delightfully clever people that’s as intriguing for what it leaves out as for what it tells…it’s sure to be of interest to American poetry buffs.”—KQED Arts & Culture

Pericles, Prince of Tyre

  • “It’s a picaresque romp full of multiethnic humor, close calls and sentimentality, with a veritable deus ex machina—the old hoist carrying a goddess—and one of the most joyous, bounciest sex scenes ever staged…Inventive director Mark Wing-Davey throws so many ideas at the old play—in performance styles, musical interventions, pop culture references, actors wearing paper plates for masks—that at times it seems like a cartoon or even a lampoon. But when all the trials and tribulations get resolved in the long-expected happy ending, don’t be surprised if you feel tears well up in your eyes…They succeed in showing why Pericles was the biggest hit of 1608 and has regained so much popularity in recent decades…It works…The cast brings it to life, headed by Anita Carey…and David Barlow as an engagingly noble, kind and dangerously innocent Pericles…Jessica Kitchens is a radiant delight as a blithely evil queen, with a drunk scene out of 1940s Hollywood, and Pericles’ girlishly earthy true love Thaïsa. James Carpenter shines—literally, in a Gustav Klimt-like reflective robe—as one evil king and again as Thaïsa’s hearty royal father. Annapurna Sriram is a feisty, earnest Marina and the long-lost daughter, and is captivating in other roles…A shape-shifting Rami Margron, sharp Evan Zes and James Patrick Nelson fill out a wild variety of parts—including a pirate crew, brothel and tournament full of knights—aided by the extra heads and eclecticism of Meg Neville’s imaginative costumes.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Insanely inventive…A rough and tumble theatrical playground where anything goes. Starting with an interactive sing-along and chockablock with pop culture references from Batman to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, this is a wild and woolly Bard mashup…Certainly, Wing-Davey—the Obie-winning director (36 Views, Angels in America)—lives up to his reputation for being insanely inventive…He’s overstuffed the epic with cheeky allusions and bravura bits of stagecraft…Make no mistake, there are many lovely moments…When Pericles changes his baby’s diaper and hands her over to another’s care or when Dionyza (Jessica Kitchens), ruler of Tarsus, bemoans the starvation of her people, the intimacy of the piece hits home. Suddenly it’s clear that Pericles’ fantastical journey is a metaphor for all of our lives, the way we each brave the elements of loss, aging and death.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “Captivating…This production has some dazzle and some heft and definitely some humor…The actors hurtle through the various episodes with verve. They bring a zesty humor to the proceedings, which range from the truly lovely…to the ribald…to the just plain goofy.”—Theater Dogs

Fallaci

  • New Yorker cartoon
  • Interview on NPR’s Forum
  • San Francisco Chronicle feature
  • Interview on KPFA-FM
  • San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group feature
  • SF Weekly feature
  • San Francisco magazine feature
  • North Bay Bohemian feature
  • “Fascinating…Compelling…The subject is Oriana Fallaci, whose confrontational interviews made her the most famous—and, in many ways, influential—journalists of her era. The playwright is a longtime, award-winning staff writer for The New Yorker and author of eight books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Looming Tower (about radical Islam) and the much-in-the-news Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief. He’s also no stranger to drama; Wright has written four other plays, two of them solos that he’s performed. He’s set up this play, not surprisingly given the topic, as an interview…a verbal tango sharply and often seductively executed by Tomei and Neshat…It’s a good format for exploring Fallaci’s personal life—from teenage World War II anti-Fascist resistance fighter alongside her father, on through her prejudices and early celebrity as a dogged war correspondent—and for highlighting some of her most famous interviews (Fidel Castro, Henry Kissinger, Moammar Khadafy et al)…The fascination of watching Maryam become a mirror and reverse image of her subject is reflected in our sense that she reflects Wright’s relationship to Fallaci as well.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Fascinating…Provocative…Oriana Fallaci basks in the limelight once more in the new play Fallaci, now in its world premiere at Berkeley Rep. The iconic journalist was no stranger to the realm of the celebrity…Hailed as a fearless and combative interviewer, she never deferred to authority. If a politician was foolish enough to try and pass off a lie to her, she reveled in their destruction. She coaxed them into admitting things they would later regret and influenced the course of world events. Tomei (TV’s China Beach and Providence) nails that regal air of courage and entitlement, the way Fallaci ‘leaned in’ to her skyrocketing journalism career. Certainly she earned her reputation for heroism covering wars across the globe…Toward the end of her life, she stirred up controversy for her denunciations of Islam. In Wright’s two-hander, those views break the heart of cub reporter Maryam (Marjan Neshat) who had idolized Fallaci from afar. When she finally meets her hero up close, she realizes that world leaders are not the only ones with feet of clay…As astutely portrayed by the formidable Concetta Tomei, Fallaci comes across as half warrior, half diva.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “Gripping…Fallaci fascinates at Berkeley Rep…Oriana Fallaci was a fascinating, riveting person in real life, a crusading, eviscerating journalist whose intensity often made her part of the story. In journalist and playwright Lawrence Wright’s world-premeire play Fallaci at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Fallaci lives again, and true to form, she’s a compelling personality whose intelligence, drive and complicated emotional life provide an abundance of drama. As played by Concetta Tomei, Fallaci may be dealing with illness by shutting herself into her New York apartment, but she’s still ferocious and prickly. When a young journalist from the New York Times wheedles her way into Fallaci’s apartment to snag an interview with the reclusive writer, Fallaci reluctantly warms to the reporter as an audience for her vehemence, her humor and her wisdom.”—Theater Dogs

Troublemaker…

  • NPR interview with Dan LeFranc
  • San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group interview with Dan LeFranc
  • San Francisco Chronicle interview with Lila Neugebauer
  • San Francisco Chronicle interview with Dan LeFranc
  • Bay Area News Group interview with Danny Scheie
  • North Bay Bohemian interview with Dan LeFranc
  • Triviana interview with Dan LeFranc
  • “A wild ride…as fantastical as a superhero comic book, and thrice as funny…The actors’ dexterity with LeFranc’s wildly imaginative tween expletives is as essential to the story’s success as Paloma Young’s hilarious zombie-pirate and other fantasy costumes. Neugebauer’s clever use of Kris Stone’s deceptively simple, urban-dreary set evokes the restless pace of young minds…The inventiveness of LeFranc’s superhero fantasies are enhanced by the solid emotional grounding he achieves.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Wildly fun…The playwright has created a juicy new lexicon for the digital generation that hints at obscenity without actually being vulgar. Only the adults, the arch-villains in this universe, are left speaking everyday English, which comes off as quite dreary and mundane in comparison. Steeped in the kick-ass aesthetic of video games and comic books, the action barrels along at warp-speed for three utterly outrageous acts. Our backpack-toting, hoodie-clad hero Bradley battles zombies, pirates, Nazis, bullies and his mom (a moving turn by Jennifer Regan) in a zany coming of age saga that takes place in the ‘nineteen-mighties,’ a mashup of the ‘80s, ‘90s and aughts.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “Hysterical…Berkeley Rep’s Troublemaker Is a Rock-‘Em, Sock-‘Em Riot…It’s the first show to hit the main stage from the Rep’s new play development lab, The Ground Floor, which kicked off last year with a bustling summer residency. Director Lila Neugebauer’s beautifully paced staging makes the play’s two and a half hours (with two intermissions) seem to fly by…LeFranc’s dialogue is the star attraction. It’s crisp, inventive and often hilarious, mixing adventure-serial bombast (‘Give this little Ms. Pac-Man the concussion of his tweens’) with quirky catchphrases and near-constant euphemistic expletives (‘funny as farts but loyal as freak’). Troublemaker’s fabulously flashy exterior invites comparisons to the comic book and movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but at root it’s a bittersweet story about growing up and getting by at one of life’s hardest ages, when just getting through the school day takes heroic fortitude.”—KQED Arts & Culture
  • “Loads of fun…Berkeley Rep’s Troublemaker is freakin A for awesome…LeFranc has a fresh voice, and director Lila Nuegebauer gets fully committed, adrenaline-fueled performances from her cast…Troublemaker is an exhilarating new play not just for its inventive language and extraordinary energy but also for how compassionate LeFranc is toward the emotional lives of kids who are too often dismissed as old enough to know better but too young to really matter.”—Theater Dogs

The White Snake

  • San Francisco Chronicle feature
  • Napa Valley Register feature
  • Stark Insider feature
  • Feature (in Chinese) in the World Journal
  • NPR interview with Mary Zimmerman
  • KPFA interview with Mary Zimmerman
  • “Fabulous…Enchanting…A buoyant Armageddon of human and puppet actions…The White Snake has been transformed from evil, man-eating demon to tragic romantic heroine, a history slyly invoked by Zimmerman at every ‘fork’ (get it?) in her tale…Wondrous puppetry delights the eye, the ink clouds of Shawn Sagady’s projections dissolve into Chinese landscapes and Daniel Ostling’s set sprouts cabinets that may open to reveal a boudoir or something more startling.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Intoxicating…Mary Zimmerman has long been a theatrical wizard…In The White Snake, which runs through Dec. 23 at Berkeley Rep, she dazzles with a shimmering spectacle about two snakes who dare to cross over into the human world. The seventh Zimmerman creation to play Berkeley Rep, it’s the ideal holiday fare, gorgeously-appointed and whimsical but also quite meaningful…There’s not a moment in this 100-minute visual feast when the eye isn’t entranced and the heart touched…While there’s no denying the ravishing physical beauty of any Zimmeran work, the real pleasure lies in hearing the echo of the ancient in our own lives.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “Wonderful…an epic adventure and an intimate love story…Fall in love with the stunning serpents at the heart of Mary Zimmerman’s The White Snake, a poignant, colorful tale from ancient China that arrives at Berkeley Repertory Theatre like a giant holiday gift just waiting to be unwrapped and savored by audiences. This is Zimmerman’s seventh show at Berkeley Rep, following in the wake of such stunners as Metamorphoses, The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci and, most recently,The Arabian Nights. Like these previous outings, The White Snake is theatrical storytelling at its very best, a fusion of stunning imagery, captivating music and, best of all, characters whose stories cut straight to the heart…It’s all just gorgeous and beautiful and utterly enchanting.”—Theater Dogs

An Iliad

  • San Francisco Chronicle interview with Lisa Peterson
  • Theatre Bay Area feature
  • KPFA-FM interview with Julie McCormick
  • “Absolutely riveting…Henry Woronicz gives a tour de force performance as he holds the stage almost alone for 100 uninterrupted minutes. He embodies the Trojan War, from the horrors of hand-to-hand carnage to the serenity of a pastoral lull, his body seeming to swell into the great warrior Achilles or coil into a seductive Helen of Troy…Woronicz slips easily from warrior bravado into the loving protectiveness of Hector’s wife Andromache and the heartbreaking grief of his aged father…He’s mesmerizing from the moment we first see him.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Mesmerizing…An Iliad is nothing less than breathtaking…Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare’s startling and visceral adaptation of Homer’s epic poem condenses the odyssey of the Trojan War into an explosive one-man show…Henry Woronicz, former head of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, delivers a spellbinding performance…He tells the tale with such clarity that arcane plot twists seem as relevant as reports from the frontlines in Afghanistan.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “Devastating…An Iliad, the mesmerizing theater piece that opened Wednesday at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, manages to create the sights and sounds, the epic sweep and tragic immediacy of the Trojan War in the performance of a single actor…In rich language—and pointed asides—he makes us feel each clanging sword, each fatal wound, each cry of pain from the vanquished. Peterson stages the action brilliantly.”—San Francisco Examiner
  • “Impressive…A master class in oration, and in classical storytelling, it works marvelously…Woronicz does a fantastic, laudatory job of taking on this play, which is as much endurance test as it is proving ground for an aging actors’ skill at holding an audience’s attention…A welcome respite from and accompaniment to Woronicz’s lone figure on stage is a bassist, Brian Ellington, who occupies a perch above the stage and provides a soundtrack to the war and the moments of intimacy in the tale.”—SFist

Chinglish

  • Feature in the San Francisco Chronicle
  • Feature in the San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • Another feature in the San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group on the show’s Hong Kong run
  • Interview on NPR
  • Feature from KDFC-FM
  • Feature (in Chinese) in the World Journal
  • News report from KTSF-TV: Chinese / English
  • Another video (in Chinese) from KTSF-TV
  • Newspaper story (in Chinese) from Sing Tao
  • Playbill story
  • Feature in San Francisco Magazine
  • “笑聲不斷”—World Journal
  • “Hilarious…a near-perfect production…Moggridge is a charmingly earnest innocent abroad, with some dark secrets in his past. Krusiec is a magnetically evolving revelation as Xi Yan, a cold negotiator, erotic lover and personification of her own moral code. Hwang, a past master of exploring the East-West culture clash—in such gems as M. Butterfly, FOB and Trying to Find Chinatown—has written a rich new chapter for a new world order with Chinglish…It’s a tale crisply and handsomely told.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Hilarious…It is probably the funniest show ever to cross Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theatre and could well be the funniest show the company has ever produced. While director Leigh Silverman delivers Hwang’s script at a slapstick pace, the comedy is sharp and intelligent, with Hwang playing with words in English and Chinese like a jazz musician plays with the notes…Everything in this comedy moves like clockwork, especially the mind-bending set by David Korins. It is a hugely inventive series of turntables that shuffles a meeting room, hotel room, a restaurant and hotel lobby around in something of a theatrical perpetual motion machine, gliding effortlessly—sometimes offering just a fleeting glance at characters before shifting to a different locale. As for the actors, they are all playing at the top of their game—not only the principals, who are astounding, but also the performers in the smallest roles. It seems each is making remarkable comic decisions to give the entire show a sense of being polished to near perfection.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
  • “Irresistible…a sublime comic performance…Leigh Silverman’s smart, stylish staging launches the company’s 2012-13 season on a hilarious high…Silverman’s production is note-perfect, with the designs—David Korins’ ingenious Chinese puzzle of a set, Brian MacDevitt’s punchy lights, Anita Yavich’s witty costumes and Darron L. West’s atmospheric sound—a constant delight. Hwang understands both cultures well enough to make the story resonate, and his use of mistranslation earns waves of laughter. But there’s something poignant about the way the play looks at language. It’s there in every awkward exchange between Daniel and Xi—all human communication is flawed, Hwang suggests, and that makes Chinglish a timeless play, not just a contemporary one.”—San Francisco Examiner
  • “Crackling comic energy…full of punches and tickles and provocations…Let there be no miscommunication here: Chinglish speaks the language of laughs, and that translates into a disarmingly delightful evening of theater…The laughs flow constantly, and the performances seem effortless, even as they straddle two very different worlds and languages. Set designer David Korins, re-creating the look of last fall’s Broadway production, deserves abundant credit for keeping things moving—literally. His set rotates and slides and moves with amazing efficiency as action shifts from an office to a restaurant to a hotel lobby to a hotel room. The set changes are thrilling to watch, especially when they’re injected with flashes of humor or action (just watch as characters navigate the giant moving pieces of the set, shifting from one location to another as if walking through real-world spaces). The set’s machinations might be too much if the actors weren’t so fantastic.”—Theater Dogs

For information on earlier shows, please contact Tim Etheridge.