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Linda Ayres-Frederick

Reviews and Previews of Bay Area Summer Theatre

By Linda Ayres-Frederick

Love and Information by Caryl Churchill at  ACT’s is a collection of 57 self-contained scenes on the title’s subject –each lasting from five seconds to five minutes with over 140 characters played by a talented ensemble of twelve actors. Each scene contains from one to 3 actors and the entire show runs about 90 minutes. This theatrical kaleidoscope employing video and film is staged imaginatively by Director Casey Stangl in the newly opened Strand Theater at 1127 Market Street, SF.  Continuing through August 9, 2015. Tickets $40-$100 415.749.2228/

Aurora Theatre Company’s closes its 23rd season with DETROIT by Lisa D’Amour. This Bay Area Premiere of the Obie-winning satire features Amy Resnick, Jeff Garrett, Luisa Frasconi and Patrick Kelly. Ms. Resnick is wildly funny as Mary who with her husband Ben–newly unemployed–are attempting to survive in their suburban home.  Welcoming young Sharon and Kenny who met at rehab and have just moved into the long empty house next door, the older couple’s values get threatened when the backyard barbecue turns dangerous and threatening.  Director Josh Costello keeps this dark comedy moving as we watch the social fabric of the American psyche fray strand by strand. DETROIT plays through July 19 at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley. Tickets $32-$50 510.843.4822/

Extended through July 5th is Custom Made Theatre’s SF Premiere of Grey Gardens, the Musical directed by Stuart Bousel with Musical Direction by David Brown. Based on a true story and the documentary, Grey Gardens  (book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, Lyrics by Michael Korie) is a fascinating exploration of Jackie Kennedy’s aunt and cousin who in 1973 she discovered living in a squalid Long Island Mansion and hanging on to reality by a thread. The stellar cast brings to life this musical exploration of the American dream gone wrong and what it means to become a social pariah by examining both the back-story of the family and the fate they couldn’t possibly have imagined. Heather Orth and Juliana Lustenader lead the cast in spot on performances. Tickets $20-$50

Upcoming July 9th – Aug 2nd and back for the fifth time, don’t miss Custom Made’s longest running show in their 16 year history, the hilarious Book of Liz by David and Amy Sedaris about everyone’s favorite squeamish nun Elizabeth Donderstuck and her famous cheeseballs at Gough Street Theatre.

And as of  Sept 1st, Custom Made will have a new home at 533 Sutter Street, 2nd floor, between Powell and Mason. More news at

Around the corner at the Phoenix Theatre at 414 Mason Street, Off-Broadway West  just completed their run of Harold Pinter’s modern classic The Birthday Party ably directed by Richard Harder. The Birthday Party is about Stanley Webber (Adam Simpson), a one-time piano player in his 30s, who lives in a boarding house, run by Meg (Celia Maurice) and Petey Boles (Graham Cowley), in an English seaside town. Two sinister strangers, Goldberg (Keith Burkland) and McCann (James Centofanti), who arrive supposedly on his birthday and who appear to have come looking for him, turn Stanley’s apparently innocuous birthday party–organized by Meg with their saucy neighbor Lulu (Jessica Lea Risco) as a guest–into a nightmare. This is ensemble acting at its best. Sound and Lighting Design by Ian Walker create additional elements of foreboding on Bert Van Aalsburg’s believably English set. OBW’s next production will be in 2016.

For Discount tickets to many of these and other theatre events check out

Linda Ayres-Frederick