Thursday, February 1, 2024

My Home on the Moon ★★★ BANG

This review is being generated by Ronald The Review Bot, an exclusive presentation of San Francisco Theater Blog.


OK, NOT.



But what if A.I.  could create a review that was so lovely and inviting that all you readers would clamor to climb right onto the page and live your own dream of a perfect life?



San Francisco Playhouse's newest show, "My Home on the Moon," written by Minna Lee and directed by Mei Ann Teo, will make you think about questions like this. The World Premiere gave us a crazy but totally involving story, including terrific acting, a fabulous set and a puzzle not unraveled until the very end. All along, we find ourselves confronting the issue that haunts us all: Who is in charge here?

Rinabeth Apostol steals the show as Vera, the strangely appealing Marketing Consultant from Novus Corp. We won't give anything away to say Vera is, perhaps, not quite what she may seem. We have seen Apostol in several previous roles - we now see she is a gifted physical comic. Sharon Omi and Jenny Nguyen Nelson are the owner and chef at Pho Lan, a failing Vietnamese restaurant with no customers, about to be bulldozed under for not paying rent. Until Vera appears. 



Vera has all the answers.

Is the algorithm smarter than the heart?

Who gets to decide what is real?

And if you thought you had found your own perfect heaven, would you cver want to leave?

Ronald the Review Bot doesn't have any answers. Neither does Will Dao, food critic. Perhaps you will. Go see this terrific new show and let us know.



RATINGS ★★★ BANG

The San Francisco Theater Blog Review Generator, also known as Doug, gives "My Home on the Moon" Three Stars with a Bangle of Praise. Special shout-out to Erin Mei-Ling Stuart as a spot-on Tech CEO. She really gives us the creeps. 

The only thing we don't get is the big noodle. 

But, hey. We love it. We've been served a delicious night of theater that leaves us hungry for more.


"My Home on the Moon"

San Francisco Playhouse

450 Post St., 2d floor of Kensington Hotel

Through Mar 12

$25-$125



Friday, January 26, 2024

August Wilson's How I Learned What I Learned: ★ ★ ★ ★

 



When we last saw this terrific one-man show, it wasn't so terrific. A show with only one actor depends on that actor, and on that particular night in 2019 Steven Anthony Jones fumbled his lines and gave a disjointed performance. We closed our review by saying we couldn't wait to see the show again when the production would be smoother.



That moment has arrived. Theatreworks' 2024 production of "August Wilson's How I Learned What I Learned" feels flawless. Originally performed in 2003 by Wilson himself, two years before he died, Jones has crawled into August Wilson's body. Every word feels as gruff and honest as Wilson himself, and although we wish the author would have included a few vignettes about a few of his plays, with which we are already so familiar, the personal details about being Black in America hit as hard as they did when Wilson wrote them. 

Perhaps this blending of actor and author has a lot to do with the direction of Tim Bond, who was a friend of August Wilson.  Steven Anthony Jones, for years the Artistic Director of the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, along with Bond, make us laugh at all times, even when describing the travails of a black kid in The Hill District of Pittsburgh. 



If you want to tell your own story, it never hurts to be as grand a writer as August Wilson. You get to be the hero and your ideals are noble, even when they boil down to "Being a young man, I desired female companionship." Jones, Bond and the production of Giovanna Sardelli insure that we never stop rooting for our hero. 

Special shout-outs to Nina Ball's scenic design, crucial for a one-man show, and the sound and projections of Rasean Davonté Johnson. 

That section about John Coltrane -- Goose-bumps. Magnificent.



RATINGS ★★★★

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division is pleased to grant FOUR STARS to "August Wilson's "How I Learned What I Learned." Stephen Anthony Jones is five years older than when we last saw him do this role. He knows it in and out now. Thank you for a memorable night of theatre.


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"August Wilson's How I Learned What I Learned"

Mountain View Center for Performing Arts

500 Castro Street, Mountain View

Through Feb. 3, 2024

$27-$84