San Diego Theater Reviews

Charles and Diana: the difference between Mstislav Rostropovich and Duran Duran

Like speed reading a tabloid

Editor: This week marks Jeff Smith’s last as the Reader’s theater critic. Smith is the longest-standing writer at the paper, having started in 1980. Before joining us, he got his Ph.D. in literature and critical ...

Meandering must-see

“One almost wants to believe Von Pfunz is the ultimate oxymoron: a nice Nazi.”

Did the angel Gabriel flutter down from heaven to save Guernsey islanders from German occupation in 1943? Or did another Gabriel wash ashore, naked, from a shipwreck? He doesn’t know. He has amnesia, and Gabriel ...

Ask Sugar

It avoids step-by-step progress and cuts right to the pain.

She’s a published author, working on another novel. She writes at home, cleaning up crayons and de-capping a beer before confronting the computer screen. Phone rings. It’s Steve Almond, editor of The Rumpus. He's resigned ...

An in-house culture war that’s also funny

“You want this little white boy from Minnetonka to bring us some cows?”

Danai Gurira plays Michonne, the warrior in The Walking Dead. She co-starred in Black Panther, has won high-buck awards for writing and acting, and has founded or co-founded organizations for supporting women and African dramatic ...

A soup to bring Dad back to life

“We demanded the sublime on a platter.”

When Ray, a Korean-American, said he wanted to be a gourmet chef, his father loathed the idea. Cooking is “women’s work,” he said. It’s low class, uneducated. Ray became a chef anyway, and top-shelf at ...

Moon Over Buffalo: to perform farce well

"Like living in an asylum on the guards' day off."

Ken Ludwig’s farce Moon Over Buffalo takes place backstage at the Erlanger Theatre in 1953. For the North Coast Rep, Marty Burnett’s set is so authentic, it could have been transported by time machine from ...

A hard sit

You can escape Nazis, but you can’t escape family

Sometimes novelists tell a story backward, from finish to start. In theater, “reverse chronology” is rare. Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, one of the few successes, begins after the end of an affair and backpedals seven years ...

The cast could do much more

Doug’s ghost practically taunts Mike with forgiveness

Clint Black, country music star, produced his sixth studio album in 1995. Looking for Christmas explores the feelings the holidays generate, from standing “Under the Mistletoe,” to the wise, self-deprecating, “Slow as Christmas”: “Every Christmas ...

Shock space

Nora and Torvald end up on the bare wooden floor.

Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2 begins where Henrik Ibsen’s masterpiece A Doll’s House ends. After 15 years on her own in the world, Nora Helmer returns to the door she slammed on her ...

Pessimistic, paralyzed, and sexy

By comparison, happiness looks like a sweaty pig.

Act one, scene two, of Hamlet begins with jubilation. King Claudius and Queen Gertrude celebrate their marriage. Rhinish wine spills from gleaming goblets. Bright colors swirl around the stage. Over in a corner — usually ...

Dickens for a day

Drood became the first Broadway musical using audience participation for the ending.

Young Charles Dickens worked as a law clerk. He delivered documents and ran errands and was bored beyond tears. He wanted to be a court stenographer – record an entire trial verbatim – but it ...