Sunday, May 15, 2022


Springtime, 2022. In our measured emergence from  the Pandemic, we find ourselves searching for nuance instead of pat answers, and at the same time we need to understand the great, existential issues facing slothkind. Humankind. Whatever.

Author Sam Chanse has given us a remarkable story, a journey through time, space, relationships, maybe the end of the world, maybe not.

We meet four sisters. Erin Mei-Ling Stuart plays Amy, the scientist who studies corals. Corals are bleaching and dying. Amy's sister Mac (Sango Tajima) has moved in with Amy "temporarily," as she recovers from an issue with an ex-boss.

Meanwhile, sister Constance (Rinabeth Apostol), a writer and producer of an animated TV series for children, is fighting with her all-white-all-male co-writers to be less patronizing to women and minorities. The show's cartoon characters are all male sloths, except for one female Superhero sloth. We'll get to her in a minute. 

The fourth sister, Lena is only spoken about, never seen. Her absence and silence is upsetting to the other three.

But we do see Lena as Magdalena, the Superhero Sloth, in a red skirt and motorbike, when the ensemble of four act out episodes of Constance's show, to our great delight, both on stage and in a deliciously cool video backdrop. 

We can't tell you how you're going to feel when the curtain comes down. The corals are dying, the earth is overheating and all relationships end up badly. Men suck, but they perform a function. So do algae in sloth poop. 

On the other hand, the earth can renew itself, sloths know how to attract the proper microbes and sisters, in the end, will always be sisters. 

For me, the message is hopeful.  But I've been in my house for two years.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Monument (or Four Sisters (The Sloth Play)" FOUR STARS.  This is a high rating for a show no one should miss. Very special shout-outs to Video Designer Sarah Phykitt and Costume Designer Michelle Mullholland. This show and these actors will stick with you.

"Monument, or Four Sisters (The Sloth Play)"
The Magic Theatre
Fort Mason, Building D.
Through May 29, 2022


Friday, May 13, 2022



"I think you are something else, Harry Chin," says his ghost wife, Laura. Harry is more than she can ever grasp. Because of the American Chinese Exclusion Act, the young Leong Cheung Yu has become Harry Chin, a Paper Son, one who has purchased a new identity and history in order to deceive American customs agents into allowing him into the United States. He can never acknowledge the families he has left behind, neither his real parents nor the lives of his Chinese wife and daughter. This was, and is, the origin of countless Chinese in America today, who are the descendants of true Paper Sons. 

Poor Harry (Jomar Tagatac). All he loves to do is cook. But his past ghosts keep appearing. Sometimes they throw a shoe into his wok, to the consternation of his boss (Michael Torres). Sometimes they remind him of Poet (Will Dao), his shipmate on the voyage over, who was unable to successfully memorize his fake identification and never made it past the internment, most likely on Angel Island. As Poet says, "Time flies when you're in a windowless box."

Author Jessica Huang throws out zingers, as well as giving us a window into immigration history that many have forgotten and some still choose to ignore today.

Act One gives us a surreal summary of Harry's past life, interspersed with the present, and Act Two becomes his chance for redemption. The ending is strong, as Laura (a ghostly Carrie Paff) says, "Lucky me." 

Harry answers: "Lucky me too." 

Special mention for the excellent set design by Christopher Fitzer. The two hour run time (one intermission) flies by seamlessly. 



 The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin" THREE STARS WITH A BANGLE OF PRAISE. 

The show and entire cast deserve the Three Stars and the Bangle is for the fabulous monologue at the beginning of Act Two by Michael Torres. When he says, Look at me! I was José. Now I'm John!," we can easily grasp what awaits our so-likeable Harry Chin.

"The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin"

San Francisco Playhouse

450 Post St. San Francisco

(2d Floor of Kensington Hotel)

Through June 18, 2022