Monday, January 29, 2018

Born Yesterday: ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG



Michael Torres brays like a high volume goat and Millie Brooks gives it right back to him.  Playing the corrupt industrialist Harry Brock, Torres has a face as florid as his voice is demanding, and as his ex-showgirl/concubine Billie, Brooks counters Harry's obnoxiousness with her refusal to knuckle under. Written in 1946, against the all too-familiar backdrop of a congress for sale to the highest bidder, Garson Kanin's "Born Yesterday" has a little sermon for us too: the bad guy just might lose and the good girl just might win.

Wait -- what year are we talking about? The business tycoon who needs to pull the entire world down into the mud, the lawyers who enable his nefarious schemes and the Senator who will push through any favorable legislation if the bribe is high enough?

We enjoyed Jason Kapoor as journalist Paul Verall; also Louis Parnell as Senator Hedges though he probably could have been smarmier; Anthony Fusco had the requisite amount of smarm as lawyer Ed Devery but he had become world-weary, whereas Harry Brock's nonstop ranting and raving must have seemed cartoon-like in 1946.

Today, not so much. The cartoon is our daily life and nothing is beyond belief.

Special attention should be given to the brilliant set designed by Jacqueline Scott as well as Abra Berman's ultra-cool double-breasted suits. Director Susi Damilano displays her usual great sense of timing for comedies and Theodore H. J. Hulsker's forties music keeps everybody lathered up and in the mood.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division gives "Born Yesterday" Three Stars with a Bangle of Praise. The first star is for Garson Kanin, whose career as actor, writer and director spanned more than half a century; acting and direction in this SF Playhouse production earn one star each. We award a Bangle of Praise to Millie Brooks's Billie -- it is as if she started Act One in 1946…

... and ended up in 2018.

"Born Yesterday"
San Francisco Playhouse
450 Post Street, San Francisco
Second floor of Kensington Park Hotel
Through March 10