Ilana Walder-Biesanz

65 POSTS 0 COMMENTS
Ilana is an Associate Product Manager at Yahoo! and a freelance theater and opera critic. She holds a B.S. in Engineering from Olin College and an M.Phil. in European Literature from the University of Cambridge. She currently reviews for Stark Insider, Bachtrack, and San Francisco Classical Voice. [Web Site]
The Mineola Twins Review -Cutting Ball Theater, San Francisco

Twin Trouble on Taylor

The Mineola Twins at Cutting Ball Theater opens with thunder and lightning. The intensity continues unabated throughout the show. Paula Vogel’s play follows a pair of small-town twins as they navigate the trials of sex, potential nuclear war, marriage, electroshock therapy, parenthood, and violent crime. Myra and Myrna have...
Theater Review: Hamlet at A.C.T. San Francisco

Stars align for a memorable ‘Hamlet’ at the ACT

The American Conservatory Theater’s Hamlet marks the debut of two greats who somehow (strangely) have never tackled this great play. John Douglas Thompson premieres his Hamlet, direct by A.C.T. artistic director Carey Perloff. The results make me thank whatever theater gods brought these two together to work on Shakespeare’s...
How I Learned to Drive - Custom Made Theatre San Francisco

Lessons in driving and empathy at Custom Made Theatre

Playwright Paula Vogel has been in the news a lot recently. She made her (shamefully overdue) Broadway debut with Indecent, which was nominated for the 2017 Best Play Tony. She started a national conversation around producers’ and critics’ biases when it comes to financing and reviewing plays by women...
Cal Shakes Review: Measure for Measure

How do you solve a problem like ‘Measure for Measure’?

Measure for Measure is famously a “problem play,” often dismissed when companies are programming Shakespeare. It’s neither tragedy nor comedy, but its defiance of genre is the least of its issues. Bewildering politics of sex and morality (especially to modern audiences) and a confused, troubling ending pose greater challenges...
Theater Review: Luna Gale at Aurora Theatre, Berkeley

Blown away by Aurora’s ‘Luna Gale’

In the words of a character from Luna Gale, deciding a child’s future is an “awesome responsibility.” In this absorbing play, receiving its Bay Area premiere at Aurora Theatre, social worker Caroline must determine what to do about the case of baby Luna. Her meth-addicted parents are trying to...

Zenith dodges its own question

Kirsten Greenidge’s new play Zenith asks a difficult question: why do ordinary people commit horrifying crimes? Specifically (in a scenario loosely inspired by a true event), how could a seemingly well-adjusted mother drive a car the wrong way on the highway, causing a deadly crash? The premise is well...
Something Rotten Tour Review - San Francisco SHN Orpheum

Something Rotten! proves a fresh musical parody

There’s nothing serious or meaningful about Something Rotten!. Still, if you know the lullaby of Broadway and brush up your Shakespeare, it’s sure to make you laugh.
Danielle de Niese - Interview Festival Napa Valley

An interview with Danielle de Niese, “opera’s coolest soprano”

Her life as a superstar soprano keeps her traveling around the globe. I had a chance to catch up with Danielle in advance of her opening night appearance at Festival Napa Valley.
The Encounter - Curran Review

An intimate and incredible Encounter

The first minutes of The Encounter (currently at the Curran) are a mix between technological witchcraft and light hypnosis. After a brief introduction about the nature of fact and fiction, you put on your headphones as instructed. Then things get weird. Actor Simon McBurney claims to be “in the...

An icy Phèdre at Cutting Ball Theater

Logical holes undercut the coherence of the plot.