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Now Playing

May 30 - June 24, Bruns Ampitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda, 510-548-9666, calshakes.org

May 24 - June 24, Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Building D, S.F., 415-441-8822, magictheatre.org

May 15 - June 30, SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter St., S.F., 415-677-9596, sfplayhouse.org

May 9 - June 3, American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary St., S.F., 415-749-2228, actsf.org

An embarrassment of (dramatic) riches

Forget the notion that Bay Area theater cools off as the weather warms up. Attention must be paid to an exceptionally rich, dramatically charged month that roams from the absurd to the sublime.

The Tempest
You'll come out of the theatre...Wondering why your island vacation wasn’t as magical as this one. 

Jonathan Moscone’s singular gift for blending romance, lyricism, and rueful wisdom has broadened and deepened since he took over California Shakespeare Theater 12 years ago. Having just told his haunted coming-of-age story in Berkeley Rep’s Ghost Light (he’s the son of murdered San Francisco mayor George Moscone), he’s timed his Tempest perfectly. Expect a deeply felt reading of Shakespeare’s autumnal masterpiece to open the summer season.

 

Bruja
You'll come out of the theatre...Grateful that your mother is at least more-or-less normal.

With his 2010 Oedipus el Rey, Luis Alfaro established theatrical street-cred gold in a whirling Chicano barrio spin on the Greek classic. No recent show has generated more heat and buzz. Now he takes on another badass parent in this reimagining of Euripides’ revenge-crazed Medea.

A Behanding in Spokane
You'll come out of the theatre...Laughing and feeling a little bad about it.

Irishman Martin McDonagh, the matchless comic creator of In Bruges and The Pillowman (which garnered raves at Berkeley Rep), ventures way out west in this peversely twisted tale of a desper-ate hero bargaining with a couple of con men for his purloined appendage. The scalding black humor of the work should play creepily well in close quarters.

 

Endgame
You'll come out of the theatre...Laughing and scratching your head. 

The stars first line up at A.C.T., where Bill Irwin performs a long-anticipated Samuel Beckett reprise in the absurdist master’s classic. The ex–Pickle Family Circus great promises to animate the blind man Hamm with the tramp-clown eloquence of his 2001 role in Texts for Nothing, one of the decade’s peak performances. The cryptic companion piece, Play, completes an irresistible Beckett double bill.