Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith is the senior writer at the Reader; he began reviewing theater in 1980. He also writes a local history column. He has a Ph.D. in literature and critical theory from the University of California, Irvine, and wrote his doctoral dissertation on Shakespeare. He was the original writing director of two University of California freshman composition programs: the Humanities Core Course, at Irvine, and the Revelle Humanities/Writing Program at UCSD. Over the years, Jeff has dramaturged dozens of shows. Favorites include Sam Shepard’s Tooth of Crime, Peter Barnes’s Red Noses (both at the San Diego Rep), Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia (North Coast Rep), Things May Disimprove: Samuel Becket One-Acts (L&L Productions), and Shakespeare’s Hamlet (New Village Arts).

He is currently converting several columns into ebook format:

View Jeff Smith's site-user page to see Jeff's photos, site comments, and more.

Latest Articles

Slight but sweet

Expert production of Romance/Romance tells of unlikely love and sustained commitment

Turn of the century Vienna bores aristocratic Alfred to distraction. He only attracts women who fancy his outer trappings. To be loved for his “own self,” just once, he dresses down and frequents unfamiliar enclaves ...

Red threads of connection

Jade Heart at Moxie

I doubt that Jade Heart playwright Will Cooper could ask for a better production than Moxie’s. The play, about a Chinese orphan adopted by an American mother, is relentlessly nonlinear and needlessly convoluted. The fits ...

A beauty contest with a twist

Pageant: the Beauty Pageant Musical at Cygnet Theatre

From the fluffy curtains to the large G hovering over the faux marble floor, everything’s an ardent pink — the signature color of Glamouresse, whose beauty products include an aerosol that protects the ozone layer ...

The Old Globe ventures back Into the Woods

The Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical Into the Woods world-premiered at the Old Globe in 1986. The set had three structures, fixed, and a “woods” behind. Along with fairy tale characters — Cinderella, Jack (of beanstalk ...

Sacrificial stands

La Jolla Playhouse stages The Orphan of Zhao

The stylized piece stresses not the gore but the fierce resolve that led to it.

SD Fringe: 146 Point Flame and word-of-mouth last calls

Hasty, vivid reflections that struggle to be heard and a unique set of recommendations for last-call shows.

146 Point Flame They called a snake in Vietnam “Two-step Charlie.” A rock asp — get bit and you went down in two steps. So you had maybe 10 or 15 seconds to curse or ...

SD Fringe: Ceremony and Nightbird

Entwinement and separation at play in two fine Fringe pieces.

Ceremony, by Michael Kass “Michael,” she said, “it’s not going to work out.” Michael Kass was a 35-year-old white male who, along with other “First World problems,” looked to go zero-for-eternity in relationships. He had ...

From blushing bridegroom back to cold-blooded killer

Iago plays on Othello’s fears like a maestro on a Stradivarius.

Iago: “Men should be what they seem. Or those that be not, would they might seem none.” Othello: “Certain, men should be what they seem.” I was re-reading Shakespeare’s Othello recently, and the obvious poked ...

SD Fringe: Getting word of mouth out

The Fringe has been a work-in-progress for everyone, reviewers as well.

Some discoveries: 1 — No non-bionic reviewer can cover everything. Maybe not even a team of pundits, since each day has nine time-slots and usually five shows on at once. That’s 45 shows per day, ...

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