Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Back to profile

Stories by Jeff Smith

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

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 ...

March 13, 2019
Meandering must-see

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 ...

March 6, 2019
Ask Sugar

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 ...

February 27, 2019
San Diego Reader 2019 Arts issue

Birds sing, elephants dance, and monkeys paint, but only humans turn those activities into art. And only humans evince a bottomless hunger for it: hence the endless parade of pictures on Instagram, stories on Netflix, ...

February 27, 2019
An in-house culture war that’s also funny

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 ...

February 13, 2019
A soup to bring Dad back to life

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 ...

February 6, 2019
Moon Over Buffalo: to perform farce well

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 ...

January 23, 2019
A hard sit

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 ...

December 19, 2018
The cast could do much more

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 ...

December 12, 2018
Shock space

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 ...

December 5, 2018
Pessimistic, paralyzed, and sexy

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 ...

November 21, 2018
Dickens for a day

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 ...

November 14, 2018
Not so black-and-white

A friend compares history – i.e. what actually happened – to the Big Bang. He’s studied the JFK assassination for decades and says he can put three shooters in position: one in the Book Depository, ...

October 24, 2018
Trauma so intense

In “Hungry Heart,” Bruce Springstein sings: “We fell in love, I knew it had to end.” Wait! Hold up there, Boss. Zero to 60 and back, like that? What about love is love and not ...

October 10, 2018
Call it the Hamilton Effect

“I am a revolution!” shouts Mary Woolley in Bryna Turner’s Bull in a China Shop, based on the famous teacher, activist, and President of Mount Holyoke College. She wants to convert the college from a ...

October 3, 2018
The Heart of Rock & Roll goes flat line

The Heart of Rock & Roll goes flat line

September 26, 2018
What is this, a rough draft?

What is this, a rough draft?

September 19, 2018
Jitney Jane

Jitney Jane

Self-absorbed black hole of a tyrant

Self-absorbed black hole of a tyrant

September 5, 2018
Reigning from below

Martyna Majok’s ambitious Queens plays like a prospector who has found a giant gold nugget in the wilderness. Problem is: the prospector hasn’t a wagon big enough to carry it out, or an axe to ...

July 18, 2018
The decision resonates like few in Shakespeare

Prospero has every reason to be furious. When he was Duke of Milan, he was a passive ruler, one who would much rather study “white magic” than enact an edict. Then, twelve years before Shakespeare’s ...

July 3, 2018
The Squirrels has the makings

The ancient philosopher Epicurus said, “Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.” Scurius is the patriarch of the squirrels on his tree. He’s a Gray squirrel and lives square in ...

June 20, 2018
A mind overthrown

During its early scenes, a play makes a kind of pact with the audience: “Here is tonight’s theatrical world.” It could be cartoony absurd or Victorian Gingerbread Age ornate. But this is default mode, how ...

June 13, 2018
The tangled -isms of Native Gardens

Robert Frost's poem "Mending Wall" contains a character who repeats the line “good fences make good neighbors” like it's a kind of mantra. Karen Zacharias’ Native Gardens begs to differ. Most of the 90-minute comedy ...

June 6, 2018
Cherchez la femme in Afghanistan

When they first meet, Mariam can’t stand young Laila. With good reason: in her early 30s, Mariam’s the dutiful wife of Rasheed, an abusive control freak. To him, she’s lower than a house cat. Now ...

May 23, 2018
Controlled chaos

Noises from backstage during a performance — i.e. “noises off” — are one of the great bugaboos of live theater. They could be anything: flubbed costume changes, microphone left on, missing prop. They yank us ...

May 9, 2018
The Wanderers: a play that unfolds like a book

A divorced friend on a collision course with #2 confessed: “I don’t choose well. Maybe someone should pick ex- #3 for me, like an arranged marriage.” Anna Ziegler’s The Wanderers, in a world premiere at ...

May 2, 2018
Plays and actors to look out for in San Diego

Director in demand — Christopher Ashley The La Jolla Playhouse’s artistic director Christopher Ashley won the 2017 Tony Award for best director of a musical, the playhouse’s Broadway hit Come From Away. So, what’s he ...

February 7, 2018
It’s true what they say about Hamilton

Art can alter life, literally. In 2015, the Treasury Department planned to take Alexander Hamilton’s portrait off the ten-dollar bill. The indefatigable Founding Father was too controversial (he came close to advocating dictatorship and a ...

January 17, 2018
San Diego Hamilton worshipers get theirs

Hamilton, the Musical is coming! Hamilton is almost here! Beginning January 9, and ending January 28, the most decorated Broadway show in eons will run at the San Diego Civic Theatre. Lin-Manuel Miranda, genius, based ...

January 3, 2018
The most dazzling show ever staged at the La Jolla Playhouse

"Toot, ahhhhh, beep-beep... Toot-toot, ahhhhh, beep-beep.” People of a certain age will recognize Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” from its first few notes. These may also conjure visions of glitter balls and strobe effects — timed ...

November 29, 2017
InnerMission's Falling: rarely happy

InnerMission Theatres’ starkly realistic, deeply moving production of Deanna Jent’s Falling closes this Saturday. It deserves a much longer run. About halfway into the 80-minute piece, teenaged Lisa Martin tells her mother, Tami, she wants ...

November 22, 2017
Taste? Nuance? — Too last century

In this era of manic video games and computer graphics, everything is all in. Used to be, when someone fell in a movie, they’d clear the window, or whatever, free-fall for a spell, and you’d ...

November 1, 2017
Characters crave spotlight but throw away lines

Mark Twain wrote: “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” Matthew Lopez’s Legend of Georgia McBride is a stencil-thin, though often ...

October 25, 2017
African-American experience starts off with the Odyssey

Suzan-Lori Parks loathes safe theater. The “insidious, schmaltz-laden mode of expression threatens to cover us all, like Vesuvius, in our sleep.” She writes “don’t be afraid to show your ass” plays to “defend dramatic literature ...

October 11, 2017
The torture of being Korean

Much of Hansol Jung’s Wild Goose Dreams takes place in a cyberspace Babel. Throngs of voices, mantras of zeroes and ones, and pop-up ads scream for attention, pinball off each other, and drift away. If ...

September 20, 2017
Ethel Tulloch Banks: union leader and healer

Ethel Tulloch Banks believed in miracles. For years she fought for miraculous changes at her workplace — and may have lived one herself. Tulloch was a clerk at the San Diego Post Office. In January ...

Betty the Loon never had a dream with a happy ending

Mr. Goodman and his colleagues at the local high school are convinced Beatrice Hunsdorfer is insane. Every time she calls the school, she’s either too syrupy-calm or tongue-ablaze raving. Does she love her daughters — ...

September 13, 2017
Hamlet — infinite tragedy

You could say that Shakespeare’s Hamlet wakes up in the ultimate actor’s nightmare. He’s thrust onstage with no training. He’ll perform without rehearsals, or even peeking at the text. He must find out the play ...

August 23, 2017
Kill Local brings savagery to La Jolla Playhouse

Mat Smart’s Kill Local opens way up in a high-rise either under construction or in development-limbo. Yellow “Caution” tape demarcates where windows will be, or should have been. Same with a ladder and orange wheelbarrow ...

August 16, 2017
Maid Marian has Errol Flynn's DNA

It’s difficult to characterize Ken Ludwig’s Robin Hood, now in its world premiere at the Old Globe. It isn’t the 1938 swashbuckling movie, The Adventures of Robin Hood, where elongated shadows of Errol Flynn and ...

August 9, 2017

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close