Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Another weekend in SF

We spent another full weekend in San Francisco. It was very similar to the one we did in January. Again we stayed at Inn on Castro. It is now our favorite Gay Bed and Breakfast in San Francisco. It has a great location, nice rooms, and an excellent breakfast, all for a good price. We have already made a return reservation to go back in a couple of months.

We had tickets for four shows and a museum exhibition. We started Friday evening with an early dinner at Catch, an excellent seafood restaurant on Market near Castro. We then hiked 3 miles to the theatre district up by Sutter and Mason. (We both love walking a city.) SF Playhouse was doing another Stephen Adly Guirgis play. Last year they did a terrific production of his “Out Lady of 121st Street”. This year they did “Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train”. It is outstanding. It is a cage-rattling drama that explores religion and beliefs, justice and righteousness, personal responsibility and social options. It must be pure joy to be an actor doing a Guirgis script. Stephen Adly Guirgis writes great dialogue. The whole play just snaps and sizzles. Also, SF Playhouse is one of the best small theatres in the Bay Area. Their budget and resources may be a tiny fraction of what ACT or Berkeley Rep has, but they make up for it with great show selection and passionate acting.

Saturday matinee found us at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. They are premiering a new play based on Virginia Woolf’s landmark novel “To the Lighthouse”. We didn’t have high expectations for the show because the reviews in the local papers and the NY Times were mild at best. The production turned out to be pedestrian exercise in trying to dramatize a novel where there is no plot, story, or compelling characters. At the end of the show, everyone politely clapped and said, “hmm, that was interesting.” The best part of our trip to Berkeley was lunch at Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse.

That evening we attended the newest opera by John Adams. “A Flowering Tree” is full of lush, romantic music and features a dreamlike folktale. It was so different from his pervious political operas with their modern, austere music (Doctor Atomic, Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer). The opera was a semi-stage performance at the San Francisco Symphony with John Adams conducting and Peter Sellers directing.

Sunday was packed with a brunch at noon with friends and then a visit to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to see their exhibition “Picasso and American Art”. The show highlights how Picasso influenced “some of the best-known American artists of the modern era, including Stuart Davis, Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, John Graham, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollock, David Smith, and Max Weber — artists who directly and openly interpreted Picasso's style, appropriated his palette, or used his work as a point of departure. Picasso and American Art assembles nearly 150 pieces by these and other Americans alongside the works that inspired them, offering unprecedented insights into Picasso's pervasive impact on a country he never visited.”

Final outing for the weekend was a 5 pm show at Encore Theatre to see a very funny, dark comedy called “American Suicide” by Mark Jackson. It is a satire of a hapless man that finds himself ensnared in everybody else’s expectations of what they can gain if he kills himself. Jud Williford (the hapless man) and Delia MacDougall (an executive director of the Theatre Communications Group) are just two of the standouts in the well cast production.

NOTE: Tickets for many of these shows are often available on Goldstar Events for half price.

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