There are some good shows now playing in the Bay Area. Loni and I scooted across the peninsula over the weekend, first to Palo Alto, then San Jose and finally up to Berkeley to catch some of the latest productions.

Fortunately it was time well spent. All 3 shows are worth recommending (plus a fourth we saw a few weeks back), but for different reasons.

For those that missed the reviews, here’s a recap.

‘The Memory of Water’ (review)
Dragon Theatre Productions, Palo Alto

‘The Memory of Water’ is a slice of life, an important moment in time, that sees three sisters come to terms with mortality, relationships and, for some reason that I can’t still figure out, water (I know… memory, right?). Judging by the audience, this will appeal to mostly women (which would explain why Loni enjoyed it more than me).

On this evening, though, I was a happy minority enjoying live theater, tucked away in downtown Palo Alto. For $20, great entertainment value.

‘As You Like It’ (review)
San Jose Repertory Theatre, San Jose

The start of the play heralds this new era with three dramatic screen panels which span the entire height of the stage, creating a dramatic start with blazing lights, bold red letters screaming ‘BANISHED” and Orlando’s (Blake Ellis) silhouette in front. The three panels which are used to project images and live video streaming throughout the play is made possible by a state-of-the-art system consisting of seven computers and five projectors.

If you love ‘As You Like It’ you will be delighted in Lombardo’s daring, modern interpretation. If you are not a fan of this play, the strong acting, technological set marvels and great musical scores should keep you plenty entertained.

‘Awake and Sing!’ (review)
Aurora Theatre Company, Berkeley

A standout (among standouts) here is actor Rod Gnapp, who is turning out to be one of my Bay Area favorites. He was equally quirky and mysterious when I last saw him, in the Magic Theatre’s ‘Mauritius.’ He delivers his lines with 1 part swagger, 1 part loopy, and 1 part danger. When he woos women, he pours it on, promising champagne, riches, and the life of luxury.

‘Awake and Sing!’ is a powerful study in domestic survival. Aurora’s production is first rate, giving us a chance to experience a family’s battle against the depression, which dramatically turns on its self.

‘Yellow Face’ (review)
TheatreWorks, Mountain View

The acting is strong, lighting and music, subtle yet moody.

Francis Jue and Pun Bandhu were crowd favorites. Francis received a rousing response during the curtain call. And justifiably so. He commands the stage, emotes with seasoned control and elevates those around him. Once warmed, Pun zigged and zagged across the stage, pulling his spiky hair. His expressions were priceless, especially when accused of being a “fake Asian.”

Clinton shoots videos for Stark Insider. San Francisco Bay Area arts, Ingmar Bergman and French New Wave, and chasing the perfect home espresso shot 25 seconds at a time (and failing). Peloton: ClintTheMint. Camera: Video Gear