Weightless at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater

Weightless, a rock opera by local Bay Area band, The Kilbanes (Kate Kilbane and Dan Moses), and directed by Becca Wolff, returns home following sold-out shows at The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival at BRIC in Brooklyn. Produced by Z Space and piece by piece productions – the show will play a limited engagement at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater (1127 Market St., San Francisco) April 30—May 12, 2019.

Weightless3The story is a retelling of the love that exists between sisters Procne (Kate Kilbane) and Philomela (Lila Blue) from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. It is described as “part concert, part play, and part dream”. Procne’s father is about to marry her off , the sisters  are not having it and run away. The darkness they encounter causes some hesitation to continue, but God (Julia Brothers) takes an interest in the sisters, and brightens up the moon to help them find their way. They end up at a cabin on the ocean where they live freely until a hunter named Tereus (Josh Pollock) shows up. Procne’s curiosity is peaked and she leaves with him to an isolated island. She promises Philomela she will return but never does.

Philomela gets an urgent feeling to get to her sister when she senses new life growing inside Procne. She must see her sister and creates wings to take her to her. She successfully flies to the island, unbeknownst to Procne as Tereus finds her first and locks her up in a shed.

The Kilbanes did a great job at weaving in this mythical story with their music. The joy of being able to bring this rendition of Metamorphosis to the stage is evident when they thank the audience at the end. However, it still feels like more can be done.

Weightless2The introduction to the sisters is a laid back musical performance, similar to what you would experience in a small coffee shop venue. They are dressed plainly, one in a blue jumper (different from production photos) and the other in a dress. At one point, lights beam down on the stage, and it makes you think, this is it, time to rock and then, it goes back to the previous tone. This story of sisterhood, love, betrayal and rebirth has moments that make you laugh and moments that make you gasp but the in between makes the show feel a little stuck in comfort.

It’s enjoyable and a great addition to the Bay Area stage as it was born and nurtured here. However, it can use a little more creative direction when it comes to the costumes and lighting. God in her tailored suite and boa at the end is the only character that had a part rock, part dream feel to her.

Playing at The Strand Theater the tickets range from $15–$70 and are available at the A.C.T. Box Office at 415.749.2228 or online at act-sf.org. Prices are subject to change without notice. Running time: 70 minutes, no intermission

The Jungle at the Curran

The Curran has brought “The Jungle” to the Bay Area after having sold out shows in New York and London. The play is based on a self made refugee camp that was located on the outskirts of the French city, Calais, from January 2015 to October 2016. Calais’s proximity to the UK, the desired final destination, is why many refugees continue to arrive there today.

The Jungle 2The show was written by British playwrights Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson whom lived at “The Jungle” for seven months, by choice. They created Good Chance theater in the middle of the camp. At the time of their arrival, there were already thousands of people from 25 different countries who had built restaurants, churches, and small living spaces on top of an old landfill. These great feats existing in terrible conditions made them want to get people to tell their stories. 

The show is set in an Afghan restaurant located in “The Jungle”. It took over three weeks for the Curran to transform itself into the final intimate space. Seats have been pulled out and the floor has been leveled with dirt. There are wood beams set up, small tables and benches. Due to the limited space to create the atmosphere, the audience is limited to 600 per show. Those with tickets near the stage area, will find themselves in the middle of the action, as actors go up and down aisles during intense meetings, protests, celebrations, and the final destruction of the location.

The Jungle 3The powerful performances bring to light the humanity behind the faces of many of the refugees, often just seen as pictures in the media, statistics, or charitable cases. It touches on the background of a few personal stories but, mostly revolves around the story behind the arrival and building of “The Jungle”. As everyone is desperately trying to hold on to hope, tensions arise. The countries each person represents also have political conflicts that fuel some incidents, but circumstances force them to acknowledge that they now have more in common. They need to get along to survive, and they do. It’s that unity, drive, hope and creativity that attracts the authorities, ultimately leading them to destroy the camp. Their public reasoning, it was getting too established and would attract more refugees. A falsehood similar to the situation here in the United States at the Mexican border. People do and will continue to arrive despite harsh conditions as they’re often not as bad as the situation the refugees are fleeing from. Also, They. Have. No. Where. Else. To. Go.

CQ_PGgQcThe play also gave voice to some of the uninvited volunteers that started to arrive after “The Jungle” started getting media attention. There is a discussion about wether they should be allowed. Most welcomed the potential help and exposure, while others hesitated. They stayed one night, two nights, and then they didn’t leave.

In a poignant moment in the play, these two entities confront each other. Okot (John Pfumojena) a 17-year old refugee, gives a speech to 18-year old volunteer, Beth (Rachel Redford). He takes off his shirt exposing a multitude of scars. She is asked why is she there. She speaks through tears and confusion. He tells her some of the reasons he had to flee his home, his family, and how each tragedy takes a toll on a person, on your identity. How parts of you die with each trauma. This is one of the most revealing parts of the play. Giving someone a few clothing items is not going to bring humanity back to a person. What’s legal is not always moral. Sometimes, the only choice, is to survive.

The JungleThe show is very emotional and honest. Those who consider themselves an “Ally” in these situations, should definitely see this play. A volunteer’s “help” can remind someone that there is good in the world. It can provide a temporary comfort. However, good intentions don’t often lead to progress. Understanding what leads people into these circumstances, not thinking you know a person’s situation better than they do, and speaking up before it happens does, as the countries often being fled too, are often part of the cause that created these unfortunate circumstances. 


Playing until May 19th 

Tickets and Location: https://sfcurran.com/shows/the-jungle/

Runtime: 2.5 Hours, 1 15 minute intermission

SPECIAL PERFORMANCES:

Open Caption: Sunday, April 28, 1pm

ASL: Saturday, May 11, 2pm

Audio Described: Saturday, May 18, 2pm

Watch the stage transformation


 

Cirque Du Soleil’s Volta – Finding Freedom in You

AdcFv24gCirque Du Soleil’s Volta is the 17th show presented under the Big Top at AT&T park in San Francisco. This rendition has a more urban feel than previous shows due to its inclusion of stunts with BMX bikes and a game of double dutch. These are things that some of us have seen in our own neighborhoods and are always impressive. It triggered many in the audience to rise in applause.

The story revolves around Waz, a young blue-haired teenager who doesn’t seem to fit in with his peers. They walk around in unison with drab gray outfits, taking selfies, oblivious of their surroundings. Although, he also wears the same outfit, he can’t help but stick out because of his blue hair. 

After entering a contest where he shows off his bike skills, Waz ends up not only being mocked by them but also as a punchline in the newspaper. A critique in the lack of differentiation between mainstream media and viral content. He goes into a depression and we see him in his bedroom reminiscing of more innocent times with his mother, who encouraged and cultivated his free spirit.

Waz eventually breaks out of his funk when he meets a roller skater and her friends, bringing color to his drab life with their free spirits and human connection. He finds himself, that person he was with his mother, in them.

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One of the things that stands out at each Cirque show is the sheer joy that emanates from the stage from the performers. This certainly contributes to their success beyond the incredible stunts and costumes, and a reflection of this show’s story line. Being around joy can cultivate joy within oneself. Another hit that’s great for the whole family with an important message about judgement and self-awareness.

Cirque du Soleil

VOLTA is Cirque du Soleil’s 41st original production since 1984, and its 18th show presented under the Big Top. The company has brought wonder and delight to more than 190 million spectators in more than 450 cities on six continents. Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group has close to 4,000 employees, including 1,400 performing artists from close to 60 different countries.

Performances are scheduled under the Big Top at AT&T Park in San Francisco from Thursday, November 15, 2018 through Sunday, February 3, 2019.

Tickets (starting at $54) by visiting cirquedusoleil.com/volta or calling 1-877-9CIRQUE (1-877-924-7783).

Ragtime – The Berkeley Playhouse

The Berkeley Playhouse has brought one of the most acclaimed American musicals of the last twenty years to their stage, Ragtime, based on the celebrated novel by E. L. Doctorow. The story includes a multitude of perspectives all looking for the same thing, the American dream. America is changing at the turn of the 20th century and many are fearful of their privilege being diminished. Unwelcoming to Immigrants and/or trying to take advantage of them and continued racism and violence towards African-Americans. You’d think the story was based on today.

BP's_Ragtime_2We’re presented with three evolving stories on the East Coast that interconnect in time, although it ends in song and dance one story still ends somberly.  We meet an affluent white family led by “Mother” (Mindy Lym)  from suburban New Rochelle, New York; an African American musician, Coalhouse Walker Jr. (Dave J. Abrams) part of the Renaissance in Harlem; and Jewish immigrants, Tateh (Mischa Stephens) and his daughter (Molly Graham) who initially start out in the tenements of Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

BP's_Ragtime_3Mother (her character has no name) in New Rochelle begins to understand a little bit of her privilege after finding an abandoned baby. She finds the mom, Sarah (Marissa Rudd), who’s about to be imprisoned and promises to take responsibility for her and her child. Sarah ends up being the love of Coalhouse Walker Jr. and he desperately tries to convince her to come back to him each week. We never find out what happened between them prior. Tateh finds a new way to tell stories and ends up becoming successful. He eventually ends up meeting Mother after her family ends up in Atlantic City, New Jersey due to racist tensions at her New Rochelle home. They end up being the only two who move towards the American dream of infinite possibilities. 

BP's_Ragtime_4Interwoven into the story is the innocence of the children. We see the young boy (Elijah Cooper) observing the adults but not understanding their issues, he’s still open and honest with his observations. It’s interesting to think about where adults lose that innocence. Adults often admire it in young people as if they had not been that young once. When and where is that acceptance lost?

The Berkeley Playhouse does a great job bringing this to the small stage. We continue to be impressed by their casting, lighting, sound and show choices. They are inclusive, timely, and well executed. 

Ragtime boasts Tony Award-winning music and lyrics by the Broadway powerhouse duo, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens(Once on This Island, Anastasia, Seussical), book by four-time Tony Award-winner Terrence McNally (The Full Monty, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Master Class).

Details: 

February 16 – March 18
Book by Terrence McNally
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Based on the novel Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
Director William Hodgson
Music Director Daniel Feyer
Choreographer Alex Rodriguez

Get Tickets


 

KDFC to Air Richard Strauss’ ARABELLA on February 4

On February 4 at 8 p.m., the Bay Area’s Classical KDFC will broadcast a 1980 San Francisco Opera performance of Richard Strauss’ romantic opera Arabella starring soprano Kiri Te Kanawa in the title role, soprano Barbara Daniels as Zdenka, tenor William Lewis as Matteo and baritone Ingvar Wixell as Mandryka, with German conductor Wolfgang Rennert. This performance from the Company’s archives will be hosted by KDFC radio announcer Dianne Nicolini.

17-18-01-MC-D-856 - Claire de Sévigné as the Fiakermilli and Tomasz Konieczny as Mandryka in the Canadian Opera Company’s new production of Arabella, 2017. Conductor Patrick Lange, director Tim Albery, set and costume designer Tobias Hoheisel, and lighting designer David Finn. Photo: Michael Cooper

Photo: Michael Cooper

The capstone of the artistic partnership between Strauss and librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Arabellapremiered in 1933 and quickly joined the artists’ other collaborations including ElektraDer Rosenkavalierand Die Frau ohne Schatten in the repertories of opera companies around the world. Set in Vienna’s golden age, the opera follows Arabella, a beautiful young woman who is expected to marry for wealth to save her family from financial ruin, but she yearns for a soulmate. The opera, which features one of Strauss’ most lush and refulgent scores, premiered at San Francisco Opera on October 29, 1980.

New Zealand soprano Kiri Te Kanawa sings Arabella, one of her most celebrated portrayals, for which theSan Francisco Chronicle praised her “voice which spins lines of precious tone, soaring softly or arching out to you, always in a living, dynamic state.” A few months after her critical and popular success in Arabella at San Francisco Opera, Te Kanawa’s fame grew to unprecedented proportions when she sang at the royal wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales, a televised event seen by an estimated 750 million people. American soprano Barbara Daniels portrays Arabella’s lovesick sister, Zdenka. Swedish baritone Ingvar Wixell, a San Francisco Opera favorite since making his American debut with the Company in 1967, portrays Mandryka and William Lewis sings the role of Matteo. German conductor Wolfgang Rennert leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in this classic performance. 

17-18-01-MC-D-919 – (l-r) Claire de Sévigné as the Fiakermilli, Tomasz Konieczny as Mandryka, John Fanning as Count Waldner and Gundula Hintz as Adelaide in the Canadian Opera Company’s new production of Arabella, 2017. Conductor Patrick Lange, director Tim Albery, set and costume designer Tobias Hoheisel, and lighting designer David Finn. Photo: Michael Cooper

Photo: Michael Cooper

Classical KDFC can be heard on the FM dial at 90.3 (San Francisco), 89.9 (Wine Country), 92.5 (Ukiah-Lakeport), 104.9 (Silicon Valley), 103.9 (Santa Cruz and Monterey); on Comcast Cable 981; or online at kdfc.com.  The historic Arabella performance from 1980 may also be streamed on demand at kdfc.com up to four weeks following the February 4 broadcast. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018 at 8 p.m. – Richard Strauss’ Arabella (1980)

Kiri Te Kanawa (Arabella), Barbara Daniels (Zdenka), William Lewis (Matteo), Ingvar Wixell (Mandryka), Alexander Malta (Count Waldner), Sona Cervena (Countess Waldner), Michael Ballam (Count Elemer), John Brandstetter (Count Dominik), Kevin Langan (Count Lamoral), Erie Mills (Fiakermilli), Rebecca Cook (Fortune-Teller), Lee Woodriff (Djura), Karl Saarni (Jankel); conducted by Wolfgang Rennert. Recorded November 1980.


 

Strange Ladies

Group-ReneeR-e1508179473659Strange Ladies written by Susan Sobeloff and Directed by Jan Zvaifler couldn’t be more timely. As old issues are being brought to the forefront by the current administration, the play is a good reminder of how we’ve (women) have always been fighting for basic rights as human beings. Even though we’re half the world’s population!

The play takes us back to a group of Suffragists fighting for the right to vote in 1917. They are the third generation of women working to get the vote. Each group of women was quieted. However, this group changed all that when they started picketing the White House after President Wilson dismissed them, an action that had never been attempted before. Most of the women are arrested and sent to Occoquan Workhouse Prison. They are forced to choose between their families and freedom. 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of their imprisonment.

The goal of each woman is the same, get the vote, but what inspires them varies. Rose (Gwen Loeb) wants to fight for labor unions. Vida’s (Radhika Rao) sister passed away while involved in the movement and is convinced to continue in honor of her by the other ladies. Lucy (Regina Morones) is looking towards the future and what kind of world she wants for her children. Harriet (Millissa Carey) bows out of the movement after War World I starts. She claims that they are adding stress to the President’s plate and loyalty to him is more important than loyalty to themselves and their rights. One character points out the hypocrisy of her point; supporting something they had no say in voting for.

Temptation-e1508180415532A story often not told is that of Mary (Nicol Foster), she knows the power of the vote and wants to end segregation in all States. As a woman of color there’s a distrust that’s expressed since their voices are often left out or used for the end goal that so often ends up only including white women. There is also Vida and Rose, who have an intimate relationship that the other ladies may or may not know about. The identity of lesbians is also often missing in history because of stigma. 

Alice (Renee Rogoff) is one of the leaders of the movement and the only one to not get arrested. She keeps up the momentum as best as she can and also spreads the word of what the women are going through while in prison. Their limits were tested in an attempt to quiet them, but the prison failed at their goal. We see them grow physically weak during a hunger strike but their spirits only get stronger. They were given the nickname “Strange Ladies” after enduring the harsh conditions the prison was known for.

Rose-Vida-e1508179712500The actresses were stellar and had great chemistry with each other. You could see and hear the emotion that they felt for their characters.  The play also features period music with musical direction by Milissa Carey who also plays Harriet. In hindsight, it’s been less than 100 years since women have had the right to vote. Even longer, for women of color who faced additional obstacles that kept them from voting. It’s an essential story in our history and seeing it come to life is a great way to keep the memory of the women before us alive. Sobeloff did a great job in representing as many voices as she could in such a short time frame. You’ll leave the theatre inspired.

 


Performing at the Berkeley City Club 2315 Durant Avenue, Berkeley
Tickets: $30 online at centralworks.org or $30 – $15 sliding scale at the door.

Previews and Thursdays are pay-what-you-can at the door.
For more information call 510.558.1381 or visit http://centralworks.org


 

 

La Traviata at the San Francisco Opera

Verdi’s La Traviata is currently playing at The San Francisco Opera. It was first performed by the San Francisco Opera during the Company’s second season in 1924. This rendition features three company debuts, Romanian soprano Aurelia Florian as Violetta Valéry, Brazilian tenor Atalla Ayan as Alfredo Germont and Polish baritone Artur Ruciński as Giorgio Germont. It’s also the final performance by Maestro Nicola Luisotti. He’s been the Music Director of the San Francisco Opera for nine-seasons.  

The orchestra begins to play as the audience perks up in anticipation for the reveal. The curtain finally rises and we are introduced to Violetta (Aurelia Florian) and an extravagant gathering that looks like a painting come to life. The costumes and scenery are exquisite. Taking you back to mid-19th century Paris.

La Traviata

The show is based on the novel La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas and is told in three acts. Violetta Valéry, a beautiful Parisian, battles with the desire to pursue her love, Alfredo Germont, or continue enjoying life on her own terms. She chooses love and is happy until objections from his father arise. Alfredo’s father claims that his daughter’s engagement is at risk due to Violetta’s reputation. She reluctantly agrees to separate after his constant pleas. She was living her days freely indulging in whatever her heart desired until Alfredo, and now she is left heartbroken because of “reputation”. Eventually, the lovers are reunited but, it’s too late, Violetta is plagued with tuberculosis.

La Traviata 2

The performances by Florian and Atalla Ayan (Alfredo Germont) are highly enjoyable. Florian gives a powerful performance during the final act when Violetta departs forever. It’s a heartbreaking good bye and she does a good job at getting the audience to feel the huge loss the characters have gone through.  

For those new to the San Francisco Opera scene, there is a small monitor above the stage with lyric translations. Have no fear, you will not be lost in translation. This particular show is tragic but it’s also funny at times. This would be a great introduction to the Opera for first timers as its one of the most popular shows to be staged. You can also arrive two hours early for dinner at the Opera Cafe and enjoy drinks and dessert in between acts.

Each presentation at the War Memorial Opera House also features an informative 25-minute Pre-Opera Talk. Beginning 55 minutes prior to curtain and free of charge to patrons with tickets for the corresponding performance, each LaTraviata Pre-Opera Talk will be presented by Bay Area conductor Peter Susskind.

TICKETS AND INFORMATION

Tickets for La Traviata are priced from $26 to $398 and may be purchased at sfopera.com, the San Francisco Opera Box Office at 301 Van Ness Avenue and by phone at (415) 864-3330. Standing Room tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance; standing room tickets are $10 each, cash only, and limited to two tickets per person.

The War Memorial Opera House is located at 301 Van Ness Avenue.

SISTER ACT-BAY AREA PREMIERE

BP_Sister_Act_7_PressBerkeley Playhouse opened their tenth season with Alan Menken’s musical comedy, Sister Act. The play is based on the hit 1992 film that featured Whoopi Goldberg as Deloris Van Cartier. There are slight differences between the two but the heart of the story is the same. Deloris witnesses a crime and needs to be placed into protective custody stat. Where’s the last place you’d look for a Disco Diva? A convent of course!

When Deloris (Elizabeth Jones) is introduced to the Mother Superior (Heather Orth) tensions quickly arise. The order of things are quickly thrown with Deloris’s arrival. She is forced to trade in her nighttime gigs for silent nights. Mother Superior keeps a watchful eye on her but the other nuns take a liking to Deloris as she slowly unravels the real her to them.

She becomes the chorus lead and takes the spotlight during church performances. The church gains fans and local news takes an interest. They’re now in the spotlight and that’s not a good place for someone hiding from a gang.

The story itself is not family friendly on paper but the singing and choreography add an innocent element to the show that makes it fun for all. In the end there’s a valuable lesson learned about being your authentic self and being open to new experiences. Deloris found friendships in a place she least expected and the nuns found a way to express themselves through music.

Jones had a great voice and carry’s the musical scenes however, Orth as Mother Superior and Sheila Townshend as Sister Mary Patrick take the acting awards. The entire cast is on point but those two stood out. You’ll also want to pay attention to all the actors when they’re on opposite sides of the stage. They do a great job at staying in character and make hilarious facial expressions and dance movements that you’ll miss by focusing on one character.

BP_Sister_Act_6_PressPerformances run Friday through Sunday, and select Thursday evenings until October 22. Tickets (ranging from $22—$40) are available by calling (510) 845-8542 x351 or by visiting online at www.berkeleyplayhouse.org. Ticket prices are subject to change without notice.

Sister Act will offer its Pay What You Can dates on Thursday, October 5 and 12 at the 7 p.m. performance. Tickets for Pay What You Can performances go on sale at the Julia Morgan Theater box office one hour prior to performance time. Tickets are cash only and no reservation is required, and seating is assigned at time of purchase.

BP_Sister_Act_2_Press

ABOUT BERKELEY PLAYHOUSE:
Founded in 2007 by professional theatre actor, director, and teacher for over 25 years, Elizabeth McKoy, Berkeley Playhouse’s mission is to create theatre and programs that engage, ignite, and celebrate diverse Bay Area audiences through a thriving conservatory, a professional main stage season, educational outreach, and a commitment to the development of new family musicals. In support of our mission, we maintain and enhance the historic Julia Morgan Theater. A commitment to community, diversity, inclusion, and empowerment is at the heart of our work.


 

 

Opera in the Park – Huge Hit in San Francisco

The San Francisco Opera presents Opera in The Park. Featuring Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducting the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and stars from the fall season including Leah Crocetto, Diana Damrau, Heidi Stober, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Piotr Beczala, Michael Fabiano and Elliot Madore. In Golden Gate Park's Sharon Meadows on Sunday afternoon, September 13, 2015.

The San Francisco Opera presents Opera in The Park
Photo: Stefan Cohen/San Francisco Opera

This year’s roster for Opera in the Park included sopranos Sarah Cambidge, Amina Edris, Aurelia Florian and Toni Marie Palmertree; mezzo-soprano Jill Grove; tenors Atalla Ayan, Brian Jagde, Pene Pati and Kyle van Schoonhoven; baritone Artur Ruciński; and bass-baritone Alfred Walker performing arias and duets by Puccini, Verdi, Wagner, Bellini, Beethoven and Gounod along with traditional songs including “This little light of mine” and “The house I live in.” The concert began with Maestro Luisotti conducting the overture to Verdi’s Nabucco. Nearly 10,000 people attended the free event at Golden Gate Park. 

The afternoon climaxed with a performance of “Nessun dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot sung in a special arrangement for three tenors, which was followed by the traditional Opera in the Park closing encore of “Libiamo” from Verdi’s La Traviata, performed by the entire group of soloists along with the audience. Matthew Shilvock, General Director of San Francisco Opera, served as master of ceremonies.

Opera in the Park, presented in partnership with the San Francisco Chronicle, is one of San Francisco’s most cherished traditions. Established by former San Francisco Opera General Director Kurt Herbert Adler in 1971, the annual Opera in the Park free concert has included in past years opera legends from Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo to Beverly Sills and Marilyn Horne.

For tickets to the San Francisco Opera’s current season go to: https://sfopera.com/


 

Winter – Defining What Is Living

The Central Works Rolling World Premiere of Winter by Julie Jensen and directed by Gary Graves, has been extended until August 20. The central theme of the play explores the polarizing topic of whether or not one has the right to die on their own terms. It was inspired by the chapter “Robeck”, in Margaret Pabst Battin’s book, “Ending Life: Ethics & the Way We Die”.

Annis (Phoebe Moyer* ), with husband Robeck (Randall Nakano*) Photo by Jim Norrena

Annis (Phoebe Moyer*), with husband Robeck (Randall Nakano*) Photo by: Jim Norrena

Annis (Phoebe Moyer) is beginning to show the symptoms of what appears to be a type of dementia. Once a brilliant writer, she now can’t remember basic things and has black out type moments. The audience experiences these confusing episodes with rapid light changes and a distracting audio track. We see Annis get a blank look in her eye and then, she snaps out of it. Her self-awareness leads her to make the personal decision, it’s her time to die.

Her husband Robeck (Randall Nakano) is going through his own struggles as he’s being pushed out of his job at the University. She tells him about her discomfort but he dismisses it. It appears to be out of his own distress in dealing with ageing and the solitude that can come with it. They have a pact but for him, it’s not time.

As if individual struggles weren’t enough, they have two sons who fight about which one of them knows what’s best for their parents. Her younger son Evan (Steve Budd) has already had conversations with them and promised his full support. In his opinion, it’s their life and they can do what they want with it.

The eldest son Roddy (John Patrick Moore) becomes suspicious after Annis boxes up items of old stuff to give to each of them. He digs through their paperwork and other boxes that are packed up to find clues. He begins to question Evan, who vaguely admits their parents might be up to something. Roddy gets furious as he believes they should be ‘saved’ from themselves and be put in a home. He wants to control the situation as long as he has to do none of the work of actually caring for them.

Evan (Steve Budd) and his niece, LD (Julie Kuwabara). Photo by Jim Norrena

Evan (Steve Budd) and his niece, LD (Julie Kuwabara).
Photo by Jim Norrena

Annis reveals her plans to her granddaughter LD (Julie Kuwabara), who becomes key to carrying out her plan. She creates a secret code that only her granddaughter will understand. Even though she expresses her full support for her grandmother’s decision she still makes her promise that now is not the “right time”.

Moyer did a great job displaying the vulnerability and strength that her character has. Annis knows what’s coming for her and made a decision for herself influenced by her experience. But, the interference of family members makes you wonder; what is living? Is having a heartbeat living when you can’t function the way you feel your best and/or remember who you are? Do we live for ourselves or others? Is there a point where we don’t know what’s best for ourselves? It’s hard to not be touched by this thought-provoking show. 

Extended and must close August 20
The Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Avenue, Berkeley.
Performances: Thurs, Fri & Sat at 8 pm, Sun at 5 pm
Prices: $30 online at centralworks.org, $30–$15 sliding scale at the door.
Thursdays are pay-what-you-can at the door.
Tickets:  510.558.1381 or centralworks.org