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Stories by Ian Pike

Lest we be lost in the long black night

Gamma Rays at Cygnet Theatre

On account of inexcusable ignorance, I initially thought that Cygnet Theatre had produced a contemporary drama with Paul Zindel’s The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. To my ear, the title fit a short ...

Un-burgers, breakfast burgers, Ur-burgers, taco burgers

Ponce's, Circa, Wa Dining Okan, Rabbit Hole, Daybreak Island Grill

What makes a burger? Obviously, ground meat enters the equation, and there must be some sort of presentation beyond slapping a griddled patty down on a plate, but it’s hard to qualify exactly what a ...

Hamlet, and wacky theories

To be or not be at the Old Globe

Following in the rich tradition of worldwide dads, my father has been known to entertain a bevy of wacky theories, often encapsulated in simple pronouncements that sound absurd on the face of things, but ultimately ...

10 Things I love about roof decks

Method Center Actors tame the shrew

Method Center Actors’ production of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Jasmin Haddad, makes use of the rooftop performance space at the Tenth Avenue Arts Center. The company intends to make “Shakes ...

Game of Thrones, a musical?

Some say John Bradley-West was lurking in the shadows

My neighbor thought sure she saw John Bradley-West standing discreetly in the shadows at the 10th Avenue Art Space during Game of Thrones: the Musical, but it turned out to be some rando who looked ...

Young studs and dowager duchesses

Why are we still dismayed by trophy spouses?

If you’re feeling charitable: Loves and Hours opens with a May-December marriage. If you’re feeling more cynical: rich, egotistical old man, Harold (Paul Maley) gets himself a smokin’ hot gold digger of a trophy wife, ...

Infantile America

Sexy Baby Voice under fire

Early on in O.B. Playhouse’s production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Tara Sampson, playing one of many, interchangeable female characters in this musical revue of love and dating, leans heavy on the ...

Taco secrets waiting to be whispered

Darker and steamier than a midsummer Mexico City night

TJ Oyster Bar It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what makes the TJ Oyster Bar fish taco superlative, but I think it comes down to the batter. It always manages to remain light ...

UCSD students achieve something important in Spring Awakening

Who says kids are too checked out to sit through an entire play without Snapchatting something?

In no particular order, here are five things that struck me at closing night of UCSD’s 2017 Muir Musical, Spring Awakening: One, I didn’t see a lot of cell phones flashing in the darkness, which ...

Hottentot Venus

Taken from South Africa to be displayed as a human freak show in England

It’s not every day you get an off-the-cuff reference to the Hottentot Venus, but there it is, casually worked into the dialogue during the first-half of Red Velvet at the Old Globe. One of the ...

The other shoe never dropped

A true artist at the heart of every hack

I cynically spent the entirety of Laura Eason’s Sex with Strangers, which played last month at San Diego Rep, awaiting the other shoe. It never dropped. Ethan (Connor Sullivan) blogged about picking up girls in ...

Plays — like Abundance — can take you to weird places

Badass as Cincinnatiworld might be...

At some point, while I’m sitting there immersed in Backyard Renaissance’s production of Abundance, I start thinking about Westworld. I know it’s wrong of me to be distracted from this harrowing, heartbreaking tale; but I ...

Don’t be like me, people. Make good choices. Attend the theater.

Shows I meant to see

Till last Saturday, I had never seen Eve Ensler’s famous play, The Vagina Monologues. Since last Saturday, I have still not seen it. I began le weekend with America’s Finest Intentions. A friend would score ...

Find the Easter egg hidden in Urinetown

Hint: Don't be the bunny

Following O.B. Playhouse’s production of Urinetown: The Musical (directed by Jennie Gray Connard), I could ramble about the ins and outs of the real-life Malthusian trap on the edge of which we, the global population, ...

Margie's plight

It breaks my heart and fills me with acute dread at the prospect of walking a mile in Margie’s shoes...

One of my biggest fears in life is to wake up someday in more or less the same circumstances as Margie Walsh from David Lindsay-Abaire’s Good People (now playing at Scripps Ranch Theatre through February ...

Relative hate

These kids despise each other on a visceral level...

If I were a member of the Feygenbaum/Haber extended family circle that figures so prominently in Joshua Harmon’s Bad Jews, I would dread get-togethers (funereal or otherwise) at least as much as Daphna (Danielle Frimer) ...

Back to the 1940s

Advertisers got hip and realized that everybody was changing the channel when the commercials came on.

Not a lot of people know this, but I wasn’t actually around in the 1940s. It’s true! I was still waiting for my parents to get born so that I could get born; but I’ve ...

I stole my best friend's girl

Relating to The Mystery of Love and Sex

The playwright Bash Doran has come right out and said in interviews that The Mystery of Love and Sex is a play partly about race, partly family, and mostly sexuality; but that doesn’t mean we ...

What do you think about the kid thing?

Nobody needs a reason

At some point in American history, somewhere between Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Sarah Gubbins’s The Kid Thing (playing at Moxie Theatre through December 11), parenthood became both super public and super discretionary. Back ...

Brush up on your Shakespeare

Despite its age, Measure for Measure is still surprisingly relevant.

Watching Measure for Measure — performed as part of the Old Globe’s “Globe for All” program, which injects free productions into unconventional venues all over town — I got deja vu listening to Angelo, the ...

Why burn happy memories?

Lately, I’ve waded into murky, nostalgic waters more than I prefer. I blame the dwindling sunlight of the waning summer, something about the way the shorter days call out the ephemeral and fleeting nature of ...

Chinese achievers, American idiots — La Jolla Playhouse stages Tiger Style!

What pants are and how they work

Mike Lew’s Tiger Style! is a kind of 21st-century bildungsroman for sibling protagonists, Jennifer (Jackie Chung) and Albert Chen (Raymond J. Lee), and it tells its story largely by holding popular stereotypes up to the ...

San Diego’s most overrated burgers

Hype wedged into a bun

Salt separates the bland patties from the ones that sing hymns of meaty goodness. Thus, in the salty spirit, while my brilliant colleagues (each one infinitely more well mannered, and supremely more qualified than me) ...

Screaming down the plains

Oklahoma boasts natural beauty, friendly people, and a unique sense of itself

If you have half a heart, you’ll leave New Village Arts’ Oklahoma! happily humming “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’” while visions of scurrying chicks and ducks paint a picture of pastoral grandeur second to none. ...

Here's to you, crabby old bitches

Avenue Q's overarching message

There’s a scene in the first act of Avenue Q (playing through August 28 at the O.B. Playhouse) where Kate Monster (Catie Marron) argues with her boss, the ancient Lavinia Thistletwat, voiced and performed by ...

The aesthetic of popular restaurants is in flux

Et Voilà does it anti-hipster

For those who didn’t catch Barbarella’s take on Et Voilà in June, here’s the TL;DR version: she found the restaurant charming, (i.e. “a ‘nice’ establishment, yet you don’t feel out of place if you happen ...

San Diego’s only dedicated chicken-and-waffles restaurant

Lemon Grove’s Da Chicken Coop

If you want to know about Da Chicken Coop, there is only one question that matters: How does it stack up against Roscoe’s? Aw, stop groaning. You have to ask. There is no other metric ...

Restaurants worth treating as occasions

Where going out is still a treat

Amid a vibrant social dining scene like ours, it’s easy to take restaurants for granted. Their very existence becomes a matter of convenience. We are either too busy or too lazy to cook, and keeping ...

You should've taken a break from Pride to see The Twentieth Century Way

(No disrespect to Kesha.)

Nothing says “equality and an end to homophobia” quite like garbage in the streets and drunk, sunburned straight people enjoying an excuse to slip on a tutu and some sequined leggings.

Hipster sensibilities

Most of the jokes in Sense and Sensibility are pretty subtle....

It’s not every day that a musical adaptation of English Regency drama comes chock full of hipster jokes. But, Paul Gordon’s Sense and Sensibility at the Old Globe, directed by Barbara Gaines, made me stop ...

While you were disco-napping...

Twentieth Century Way at Ion Theatre

Congratulations, Pride attendees! By all accounts, Pride weekend was a huge success. Tens of thousands enjoyed the music festival, parade, parties, and (of course) the endless day-drinking. The corporate sponsors must be so happy to ...

What is “San Diego-style” barbecue?

Mark’s Bark does it in Normal Heights

So much is (justly) made of barbecue styles. It’s the ultimate sign of a culinary asshat to say, “You can’t get good XYZ-style barbecue outside of XYZ place.” But there’s a nugget of truth in ...

Audiences eat up cutesy pie

But critics call shenanigans on Every Night’s a Show Night

Last month, New York–based dance troupe, Monica Bill Barnes & Company put on a single performance of Every Night’s a Show Night, a self-styled work-in-progress, at San Diego Dance Theatre. To the tune of excellent ...

How is dictatorship still a thing?

Gaddafi couldn’t even trust his own food

Unless you saw it at SD Fringe, none of you reading this will see Qaddafi’s Cook, which dramatizes the life of a Mexican chef who tripped on Ayahuasca and took a job as one of ...

Skip this Gaslamp barbecue

Bugsy’s has had enough time to get better

I give new barbecue joints the widest berth of all restaurant debuts. In my experience, really getting the production schedules dialed in takes a lot longer for barbecue, and the first few months tend to ...

Are you theater people?

A rich and tricky question. Ask it of yourselves before and after attending Matt Thompson’s The Complete History of Theatre (Abridged) at the Point Loma Playhouse. As the play’s second act finally delivers the titular ...

If this place vanished off the face of the Earth…

Not enough value at Leña Craft Mexican

In the past, I’ve relied upon summing up any restaurant’s worth with a single question: Would I eat here again? I’ve considered that a foolproof barometer, an easy either/or situation for whether I could recommend ...

Murder at the Howard Johnson’s — probably not meant to serve as a rich cultural study of 20th-century Americana

Fried clams

More than once during Scripps Ranch Theatre’s production of Murder at the Howard Johnson’s, ditzy would-be femme fatale, Arlene (Maelyn Gándola), refers to HoJo’s fried clam strip dinner with lustful glee. This is perhaps the ...

The only fitting approach

Stupid Fucking Bird at Cygnet

About halfway through the first act of Cygnet Theatre’s production of Aaron Posner’s Stupid Fucking Bird, after the “showing” of the play-within-the-play, but before the “We need new forms” speech, occurs a brief dialogue between ...

A visit to Camp David

An extra-heavy dose of folksy wisdom

Perhaps there’s a secret society of actors who have played the President of the United States. Membership is as simple as standing onstage, or in front of a camera, and portraying the holder of this ...

Normal Heights is not Memphis

Burnside begs to be described as “unpretentious”

A little while back, I caught wind that hipster sandwich shop Burnside had rebooted itself with a barbecue theme. As self-appointed local barbecue doyen, a position I realize is somewhat oxymoronic, I knew I had ...

Sharks rampage in La Jolla

Kayakers hooted and hollered as large threshers took them on sleigh rides out to sea.

May the Fourth. International Star Wars day to some, but to La Jolla kayak fishermen, it will forever be the beginning of the Wide Open Thresher Bite of 2016. The gray, windless day — with ...

Boundaries of exploitation

Our Lady of Kibeho is a rarity in a world where racism is easy and honesty’s tough.

Before Moxie Theatre’s production of Katori Hall’s Our Lady of Kibeho even started — as audience members found their seats, and while director, Jennifer Eve Thorn, eyed the room in anxious anticipation — I began ...

Poor little rich girl

Obscure and fractious ideas in Dinner With Marlene

The conflict between Old World aristocrats and American New Money was once a real concern. The peerage dreaded the inevitable wresting from their hands of social privilege by plucky upstarts with Gilded Age fortunes. In ...

Taquerias up and down the coast, inland and outland

My jams

I know what I like. No matter what the cuisine, I go here for this, there for that, and somewhere else for a third thing. Up and down the coast, inland and outland, there are ...

This argument denigrates theatergoers

Being an audience member isn’t just a passive process of watching and absorbing. It requires engagement.

Small productions, such as ion theatre company’s Jesus Hates Me (directed by Glenn Paris and Claudio Raygoza), lack big budgets, so actors double as techies. During scene changes, they might be mere feet from the ...

Estranged from the darkness

Where will you be when the world ends?

Where will you be when the world as we know it ends? What will you be doing? Will you be at home, tucked in bed and sleeping soundly with your beloved at your side? Or, ...

The takeout junkie trope

Odd to hold such merciless opinions on something so innocuous as takeout food

In Scripps Ranch Theatre’s production of Skin Deep, female lead, Maureen Mulligan — played to the Irish Catholic spinster extreme by Brenda Adelman — seems to survive on a steady diet of takeout food, the ...

Trust is the issue

Hillcrest newcomer has presentation skills and not much else

It seems like everyone wants to be at Hillcrest’s Trust, ordering expensive hipster nibbles and struggling to be heard above the din (though in all fairness we are assured that the installation of noise baffles ...

To accept Renaissance foolery

The Venetian Twins would unravel pretty quickly in real life.

“I just can’t tell the man I intend to marry apart from his twin brother,” said no one, ever. At least, not in real life. Nowhere is it written that comedy ought to be more ...

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