‘Manon’ at SF Opera (****)

by Charles Kruger To appreciate Jules Massanet’s great Belle Epoch masterpiece, it is helpful to recall that it was in this gilded period that Paris made its reputation as the most romantic city in the world. In those years, the French perfected a bubbly drink called “champagne, ” Escoffier ran the dining room at the […]

Review: ‘ The Liar’ at Center Rep in Walnut Creek (****)

by Charles Kruger There are few plays in the entire theatrical repertoire as funny as classic French comedies-of-manner. For years, though, English translations have been hobbled by the requirement that all the text be written in rhymed couplets. Too often, the results did not flow trippingly upon the tongue. But in recent years, the extraordinary […]

Review: ‘Small Mouth Sounds’ at A.C.T. (***1/2)

by Charles Kruger The program for “Small Mouth Sounds” features an article titled, “The Meditation Market,” which reminds us that, in America at least, mindfulness, meditation, and spirituality are big business. It is an area of modern life that cries out for a theatrical treatment, and playwright Bess Whol has responded to that cry with […]

Review: ‘Barbecue’ at SF Playhouse (****1/2)

by Charles Kruger The title of this play obviously refers to its feature event—a family barbecue held for the purpose if performing an intervention for an alcoholic/addict—but also the way in which it “barbecues” our prejudices and preconceptions regarding race, poverty, addicition, recovery, pop culture, and more. It is a conflagration. And it is very […]

Review: “La Traviata” at SF Opera (**1/2)

by  Charles Kruger Sometimes a soufflê just won’t rise. “La Traviata” boasts one of the loveliest scores in the entire Verdi repertoire with soaring melodies, thrilling orchestrations, charming choruses, and exquisite opportunities for bel canto singing. But, even the loveliest music and most enticing story requires some commitment on the part of the artists to […]

Review: ‘Hamlet’ at A.C.T. (***1/2)

by Charles Kruger It has been said of “Hamlet” that the poetic and philosophical content is so rich, the characters so perfectly realized, the plotting so masterfully intricate, the humor and tragedy so delicately balanced, that it is impossible for any production to completely fail. I get the point, but I’ve seen some Hamlets (emphatically […]