Sunday, October 15, 2023

Don Reed: "East Fourteenth St." (2023) ★ ★ ★

It's been more than a decade since we first met Blinky and Trout Mouth and Stickface.  Don Reed's ability to move his mouth and contort his body hilariously with each new character has not diminished. This year's new workup of "East Fourteenth St," the area in East Oakland where Reed grew up, has everything the original had plus various new bits. Some work, some don't, but the heart of the story still beats with humor and love.

Reed's Dad is his hero. True, his occupation ("He was a pimp. I thought he was just into hats") was sketchy, but living with him, on one end of East Fourteenth St., was a lot easier than with his strict Seventh Day Adventist mother and stepfather on the other end. This pull between worlds, as young Blinky tries to figure out just where he belongs, is where Reed finds all his best characters. 

That's Trout Mouth (below), with the classic laugh.

Two hours with an intermission feels long, however, especially the section of Act Two that deals with Reed losing his virginity, which involves many trips into night clubs and hapless interventions by his brothers on his behalf. Also, our 2023 sensibilities would like the stepfather to suffer a bit for the beating he deals out. But that's not how things worked in East Oakland, which is also the point.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division realizes that any Don Reed show starts out with a minimum of a Three Star rating, because nobody does physical comedy like he does. We love to watch his dance moves, his contortions, his attitude. Reed's career has taken off since we were first taken down East Fourteenth St. and we're still happy to accompany him on his journey, even though this current reprise takes a while to get where it's going.

Don Reed: "East Fourteenth St."
The Marsh
1962 Valencia St., San Francisco
Through Oct, 22

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