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 Kid Thing – New Conservatory Theatre Center

You can catch the Bay Area debut of, “The Kid Thing” directed by Becca Wolff, at the New Conservatory Theatre Center until December 13. The play written by playwright Sarah Gubbins was the winner of the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Play 2012 and an Edgarton Foundation New American Play Prize.

Kid Thing Press ShotThe story revolves around two lesbian couples during a dinner in which one of the couples, Nate (Jaq Nguyen Victor) and Margo (Kimberly Ridgeway), announce that they’re expecting a little bundle of joy. Emotions run high among the couples and the audience sees a multitude of reasons unraveled throughout the play as to why. Leigh (Sarah Coykendall) immediately confronts Darcy (Desiree Rogers) about her not so joyful reaction after Nate and Margo leave. Leigh also expresses her own maternal instincts and wonders why they haven’t talked about “The Kid Thing” themselves. All the actresses give wonderful performances especially Desiree Rogers as Darcy. However, there are some elements that the play could’ve done without, but it certainly produces a range of topics for a lengthy discussion after.

The play starts out being about what it means to have a child but is eventually cheapened by a revelation of betrayal. The personal insecurities, financial doubts, the process of choosing a donor, lack of communication between couples, and different ideologies among the ladies would’ve been a powerful piece without that added element.

Kid ThingWe’re also introduced to Jacob (Nick Mandracchia), an old college friend of Nate and Leigh and Nate and Margo’s sperm donor. Leigh and Nate start to fantasize about their children being related if Leigh could convince Darcy to use him as a donor too. We experience Leigh’s determination to have a child when Darcy doesn’t show up to a meeting she set up with all three of them. Unbeknown to Leigh, Darcy sets up a secret meeting after that night with Jacob, to tell him her true feelings about him being the donor. Eventually, they all get together and he ends up giving a self-righteous speech where he’s just a good guy trying to give sperm like one would give a kidney. There’s no range in his emotions after being unknowingly propelled into a betrayal by Leigh. His reaction is also a display of how Darcy, the non-carrying partner, is dismissed as just an angry and unreasonable lesbian. A topic that is not explored any further.

Kid Thing Press ShotDarcy’s feelings of insecurity about how outsiders perceive her and how this will affect a child is the most significant part of the play, especially since all the characters hang on her reaction to each situation and try to understand them. After her reveal, she tries to project her feelings on Nate (Jaq Nguyen Victor) and assumes that she internalizes that negativity the same way. Darcy and Nate are often mistaken for boys due to their clothing choices. Neither one proclaims they are “butch” or “queer” in the play which exemplifies the point that it doesn’t matter if you label yourself or not, others will label you. Her projections offend Nate because she is happy at the thought of becoming a parent, and Darcy’s point of view makes her feel as if she shouldn’t be happy. However, Nate is more of the, “love is all that matters” type, which is a beautiful sentiment but, makes her look naïve when we find out she’s clueless to what’s going on behind her back.

There are more issues here that turn the play into a couple drama of “should they even be together?”, rather than an exploration about a committed, honest and devoted couple trying to decide if they want a family and the uncontrollable external options that affect a lesbian one. It’s a shame because there’s enough confusion and drama to go around with the decision itself, and that would’ve been truly groundbreaking.

The Kid Thing runs until December 13, 2015. Tickets are $25–45 and available at nctcsf.org or by calling (415) 861-8972.

New Conservatory Theatre Center is San Francisco’s premier LGBTQIA and allied performing arts institution and progressive arts education conservatory since 1981. NCTC is renowned for its diverse range of innovative, high quality productions, touring productions and shows for young audiences; its foundational anti-bullying work with youth and educators through YouthAware; and its commitment to nurturing emerging artists and playwrights to expand the canon of queer and allied dramatic work.