Second Row Center House lights down. Cue the music. The curtain rises weekly on KRCB's early-morning news segment Second Row Center.There's a lot of theatre in the Bay Area. With so many options and limited time and resources, how does one go about deciding just what to see? That's where a critic can be of assistance.Theatre critic Harry Duke has been knocking around Bay Area stages for twenty years since his days in the Sonoma State University Theatre Arts program. He's turned what used to be post-show conversations with fellow artists into full-fledged reviews of Bay Area theatre that can be found in the North Bay Bohemian and on the North Bay Stage and Screen website. More than a simple recitation of a plot (you can look that up yourselves,) his reviews are honest evaluations of the components that make a good show good and a bad show bad.Don't ask Harry what he thinks unless you really want to know.

Second Row Center

From KRCB-FM

House lights down. Cue the music. The curtain rises weekly on KRCB's early-morning news segment Second Row Center.There's a lot of theatre in the Bay Area. With so many options and limited time and resources, how does one go about deciding just what to see? That's where a critic can be of assistance.Theatre critic Harry Duke has been knocking around Bay Area stages for twenty years since his days in the Sonoma State University Theatre Arts program. He's turned what used to be post-show conversations with fellow artists into full-fledged reviews of Bay Area theatre that can be found in the North Bay Bohemian and on the North Bay Stage and Screen website. More than a simple recitation of a plot (you can look that up yourselves,) his reviews are honest evaluations of the components that make a good show good and a bad show bad.Don't ask Harry what he thinks unless you really want to know.

Most Recent Episodes

Left Edge Theatre's Sweat is Available for Streaming Through September 27 (Aired: Septembe...

With no date in sight for the resumption of live, in-house theatre, Left Edge Theatre becomes the first North Bay company to move forward with a full season of streaming productions beginning with Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Sweat. The show is available for streaming through September 27th. The play opens with a parole officer (played by Corey Jackson) interviewing two recent parolees – Jason (played by Skylar Bird), whose face sports a black eye and white supremacist tattoos, and Chris (played by Sam Ademolah), a young African-American who has found solace in religion. How these two are connected and what event precipitated their imprisonment will be revealed over the show's time-shifting two-plus hours as it addresses issues of economic inequality, race, immigration, union-busting, and what despair can do to friends and family over the span of eight years. A Reading, PA blue-collar bar tended by Stan (played by Mike Pavone) and his barback Oscar (played by Anthony Martinez) is the favorite watering hole and home-away-from-home of good friends and factory line co-workers Tracie, Cynthia, and Jessie – played by Jill Zimmerman, Serena Elize Flores, and Lydia Revelos. Cynthia's announcement that she's applying for a management position seems to sit well with her friends until she gets the position and has to announce plant reductions and layoffs. Labor unrest grows, latent prejudices are exposed, friendships crumble, and soon the bar's status as neutral territory is horribly revoked. Director Argo Thompson has given this streaming production a more cinematic look, eschewing the infamous Zoom "Brady Bunch" boxes for single screenshots. Another improvement was replacing green screen background projections with individual set pieces that were constructed in the actors' homes and on the Left Edge theater stage. Several scenes were pre-filmed including a fight scene which didn't come off particularly well and raised some questions in my mind with regard to COVID-safe practices. Technical challenges with live-streaming still exist. Camera focus issues, inconsistent audio, and ragged transitions continue to be the norm. The cast must double as crew and, despite the occasional blip, handles those duties with aplomb. The performances delivered by the diverse cast are generally strong. Actors with significant film and television experience (like Pavone and Zimmerman) seem more comfortable with the medium, but each actor has their moment. At its core, Sweat is an examination of how those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder tend to devour each other to survive when it would be better to direct their appetites to those on top. It's powerful food for thought. Left Edge Theatre's Sweat is available for streaming through September 27. For more information, go to leftedgetheatre.com , ,https://norcalpublicmedia.org/images/00_Prell_uploads/2ND_ROW_CENTER_09.16.20_SEP_16_SWEAT.mp3,

Left Edge Theatre's Sweat is Available for Streaming Through September 27 (Aired: Septembe...

The Last Ship at the Golden Gate Theater (Aired: March 11, 2020)

The plight of British laborers dealing with the changingeconomic world in the 1980's has been a major plot element in a number ofsuccessful musicals. From the redundant steel workers of The Full Montyto the striking coal miners of Billy Elliot, the issue of (mostly) mendealing with job elimination often took a backseat to more "feel good" plotpoints, be it a group of men doing a striptease act or a boy wanting to learnballet. The Last Ship, playing at San Francisco's Golden Gate Theatre throughMarch 22, ups the labor quotient to about fifty percent with the other half a traditionalromance. The show, with music and lyrics by Sting, had its Broadway debut in2014 and lasted only three months. It's been revamped with a new book by directorLorne Campbell and Sting doing eight shows a week. It's the Thatcher era and the employees of a Northern Englandshipyard have been told that the ship currently being built will not be finishedand most of the workers let go. Those who are asked to return to scrap the shipwill do so at a significantly lower wage. This doesn't sit well with unionleader Jackie White (Sting) who's trying to figure a way out while dealing withsome (ahem) "health issues." Meanwhile, Gideon Fletcher (Oliver Savile), who abandoned hisgirlfriend Meg Dawson (Frances McNamee) seventeen years earlier, has returnedand Meg is none too pleased to see him, at least until the finale. The show is obviously a labor of love for Sting, but the incongruityof the two storylines is just the first of many obstacles that prevent thisshow from setting sail. They never really gel as the show clunkily moves fromone to the other before awkwardly merging at the end. Thick accents makedialogue often incomprehensible, and musically the show is all over the map. Sometimesthe music soars and sometimes it just lays there. The cast does what it can and occasionally bring a thirddimension to two dimensional characters. McNamee comes off best and while Sting– who was upstaged by his cod piece in David Lynch's Dune – does hisbest to not upstage his castmates, come on, it's Sting. But if Sting wasn't in the show, would there be a compellingreason to see it? With Sting in the show, is there a compelling reasonto see it? My answers are the same. 'The Last Ship' runs Tuesday through Sunday through March 22 atthe Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco. Dates and times vary. For more information, go to broadwaysf.com https://media.krcb.org/podcast/second_row_center/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2ND_ROW_CENTER_03.11.20_THE_LAST_MAR-11.mp3 Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: Android | RSS

The Last Ship at the Golden Gate Theater (Aired: March 11, 2020)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Rancho Cotate High School (Aired: March 4, 2020)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame finally makes its NorthBay debut with a production offered up by a local music education center.Cotati's Music to My Ears is presenting the musical at the new Rancho CotateHigh School Theatre Arts Auditorium in Rohnert Park through March 8. A blend of Victor Hugo's gothic novel and Disney's 1996animated musical, the show never made it to Broadway but has met with somesuccess with regional and community theatres. Rohnert Park's Spreckels TheatreCompany scheduled it in a season a few years back, but pulled thedarker-than-you-would-expect-with-the-name-Disney-attached entertainment for amore "family friendly" show. Hugo's 15th century-settale of the Cathedral of Notre Dame's bell ringer Quasimodo (Chris DeSouza),his guardian Archdeacon Frollo (William O'Neill), and a gypsy girl namedEsmeralda (director Aja Gianola-Norris) is a monster of a show to produce. Operaticin scope, the production benefits immensely from the involvement of SanFrancisco Opera member O'Neill as both performer and choir director. A chorusis integral to this show, and there's a 28-member one on stage throughout. DeSouza, who is deaf (as isQuasimodo), communicates beautifully through American Sign Language whileactor/singer Ezra Hernandez provides the speaking and singing voice. This hadto add a significant level of complexity to the production and credit must begiven to all involved for making it work so well. While many cast membersutilize ASL in the show, the March 6 performance will be fully ASL interpreted. Gianola-Norris makes for anentrancing Esmeralda, and there's good work done by Alanna Weatherby asnarrator Clopin and Blake Chandler as the dashing Phoebus. The ensemble isfilled out by performers of a variety of ages and abilities in fulfillment ofthe producing company's vision that participation in theater is for everyone. While there's good costuming byCaitlyn Clark, the performance I attended was lacking in technical finesse. There'sno set to speak of and haphazard lighting and missed sound cues were a constantdistraction. To add insult to injury, someone pulled the fire alarm during thefinal scene and the theatre had to be evacuated. After receiving clearance, inthe best tradition of "the show must go on", it did. The nobility shown by the cast andaudience in dealing with that situation makes for a good summation of thisproduction. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a noble effort. The Music to My Ears production of 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' runs through March 8 at the Rancho Cotate High School Theatre Auditorium in Rohnert Park. Friday and Saturday evening performances are at 7:30pm; the Sunday matinee is at 2pm. The Friday, March 6 performance will be fully ASL interpreted. For moreinformation, go to funmusiclessons.com https://media.krcb.org/podcast/second_row_center/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2ND_ROW_CENTER_03.04.20_HUNCHBAC_MAR-04.mp3 Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: Android | RSS

The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Rancho Cotate High School (Aired: March 4, 2020)

Urinetown at Spreckels Theater Company (Aired: February 26, 2020)

If your taste in musicals runs to the light, bouncy, and life-affirming, you might want to take a pass on the Spreckels Theatre Company's latest production. If, however, your taste runs more to the dark and twisted, then you won't find Urinetown, the Musical too draining. It runs in Rohnert Park through March 1. Set in a dystopian future where decades of drought have ledto the regulation and privatization of water intake and outtake, theshow by Mark Hollman and Greg Kotis made quite a splash on Broadway in 2011 andwas nominated for ten Tony Awards (winning three.) It's an odd combination ofsatire, parody, social drama, and love story. The show opens at Amenity #9, the "poorest, filthiest urinalin town" where citizens line up to pay for the privilege to pee. Failure to payor to be caught urinating in public leads to banishment to Urinetown, a placefrom where no one has ever returned. The Urine Good Company, headed by the dastardly Caldwell B.Cladwell (Tim Setzer), seeks to hike their outrageous fees even more. Thisdoesn't sit well with Amenity attendant Bobby Strong (Joshua Bailey) who's soonfomenting rebellion. Complications ensue when he finds himself falling in lovewith Cladwell's daughter Hope (Julianne Thompson Bretan). Will their love bestrong enough to break the stranglehold her father has on everyone's bladder?Spoiler alert! Nope. As Officer Lockstock (David Yen) makes clear in hisintroduction, this isn't a "happy" musical. Actually, it's barely a musical at all. It's more of asingle-themed Forbidden Broadway-type revue with each musical numberreminiscent of another show. "Look at the Sky" smells of Les Misérables, "Whatis Urinetown?" brings Fiddler on the Roof to mind, and "Run Freedom Run"has shades of Guys and Dolls or even How to Succeed in BusinessWithout Really Trying in it. The show's best number may be its onlynon-referential one – "Don't Be the Bunny". Director Jay Manley has an excellent cast at work here.Bailey and Thompson Bretan bring earnest demeanors and terrific voices to theircharacters. Setzer obviously relishes in Cladwell's villainy. Yen keep things whizzingby with his humorous exposition, often in tandem with Denise Elia-Yen's LittleSally. The show also benefits from a strong ensemble. Michella Snider's choreography also pays homage to otherBroadway musicals, and Lucas Sherman and a five-piece orchestra handle themusical responsibilities with aplomb. Urinetown may leave a bad taste in the mouth of some,but if you're in the mood for something decidedly different then, by all means,go. 'Urinetown, the Musical'runs through March 1 at Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park. Fridayand Saturday evening performances are at 7:30pm; the Sunday matinees are at 2pm;and there's a Thursday, February 27 performance at 7:30 pm. For more information,go to spreckelsonline.com https://media.krcb.org/podcast/second_row_center/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2ND_ROW_CENTER_02.26.20_URINETOW_FEB-26.mp3 Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: Android | RSS

Urinetown at Spreckels Theater Company (Aired: February 26, 2020)

A View From A Bridge (Aired: February 19, 2020)

Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge, running now atSanta Rosa's 6th Street Playhouse through February 23, may not behis best play (that's Death of a Salesman) or even close to his mostproduced work (probably The Crucible). What it is is a punch-to-the-gut lookat of one man's destructive obsession and the ramifications of that obsessionon his family, his friends, and his community. It's sometime in the 1950's, and Italian-immigrant attorney Alfieri(Joe Winkler) wants to tell us about a client whose case has stuck with him.That client is Eddie Carbone (Edward McCloud), a dockworker on the piers of NewYork. He lives in a Brooklyn flat with his wife Beatrice (Mary Delorenzo) andhis 17-year-old orphaned niece Catherine (Nina Cauntay). Conflict first arisesbetween them when Catherine is offered a job that Eddie does not want her totake. That conflict is compounded by the arrival of Marco (Matt Farrell) andRodolpho (Erik Weiss), nephews of Beatrice who arrive in the country illegallyand who Eddie has agreed to harbor. Rodolpho soon takes a liking to Catherineand vice-versa. Eddie has a problem with this, and his concerns go waybeyond normal father-daughter issues. Eddie wants Rodolpho gone, and after his attempts to convince Catherinethat Rodolpho just ain't "right" fail, he makes a decision that will tear hisfamily, his community and himself apart. Director and co-scenic designer (with Martin Gilberston) JaredSakren adapts the stripped-down approach taken by many contemporary productionsand it works. The intimacy of the Monroe Stage does work against it at times –particularly during the fight scenes – but it also heightens the tension inothers. McCloud is strong (though a bit vociferous) as Eddie, as isDeLorenzo as the suffering wife who clearly sees what Eddie refuses to see abouthis feelings for Catherine. Cauntay impresses as the obliviously beguilingCatherine and Winkler excels as the voice of reason who Eddie refuses to hear. Character actors Weiss and Farrell do okay with their roles asliterally "fresh off the boat" Italian immigrants, but I sense that dealingwith an accent limited their abilities to delve deeper into their characters.Weiss does ultimately connect in a confrontation with Catherine. Issues of honor, justice, the law, and even immigration are dealtwith here, but at its core it's a well-told classic Greek tragedy of a man andhis self-induced downfall. 'A View from theBridge' runs through Feb. 23 on the Monroe Stage at 6th Street Playhouse inSanta Rosa. Friday and Saturday evening performances are at 7:30pm; there are Saturdayand Sunday matinees at 2pm. For specific dateand time information, go to 6thstreetplayhouse.com https://media.krcb.org/podcast/second_row_center/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2ND_ROW_CENTER_02.19.20_VIEW_FRO_FEB-19.mp3 Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: Android | RSS

A View From A Bridge (Aired: February 19, 2020)

Alter Theater's Ghosts of Bogota (Aired: February 12, 2020)

A vacant downtown San Rafael storefront is being haunted bythe Ghosts of Bogotá. They are characters in playwright Diana Burbano's darklycomic autobiographical look at a group of siblings dealing with some disturbingfamily history. It's AlterTheater Ensemble's latest "pop-up theatre" and runsthrough Feb. 23. Siblings Lola (Liva Gomes Demarchi), Sandy (Carla Pauli),and Bruno (Eduardo Soria) arrive at their late grandfather Saúl's Bogotá apartment to arrange for his funeral. Heis a man who will be mourned by no one, especially by the sisters who hesexually abused, but familial duty requires them to handle his interment. The apartment is cold, stark, and haunted by its previousinhabitants. Soon the sisters are engaging with the spirits. Sandy deals withthe ghost of Saúl (Tony Ortega), who is trapped in the apartment because heknows if he leaves, he's destined for hell. Lola finds herself in conversationwith her grandmother Nena (Leticia Duarte), challenging her to explain why shedealt with her husband's physical abuse of her and sexual abuse of others. Herexplanation is haunting in its own right. Bruno is the odd man out. Born in the United States afterhis mother relocated there, he never knew his grandfather and cannot relate tohim as anything but a doting distant relative. This may explain Sandy's antagonistic attitude towards Bruna and his care-free,pansexual lifestyle. How dare he find joy in something she relates to traumaand pain? All of this unfolds under the watchful eye of Jesus (NoeFlores) who, when he's not residing in a jar, is content to observe quietly.When he does speak, it is not in the Biblical language, or with the attitude, onewould expect from the son of God. Wickedly humorous at times, gut wrenching at others, it'sclearly Burbano's attempt to exorcise her own ghosts. Director Alicia Coombesfacilitates that exorcism with the help of a very strong cast. Pauli, GomesDemarchi, and Soria feel like siblings and make that unspoken bondpalpable. Duarte blends compassion with hard-bitten reality as the grandmother.Ortega may be menacingly one-note as the despicable grandfather, but that ishow the sisters see him. Flores makes for a very unique Jesus. The storefront setting presents challenges, particularlywith scene transitions, but the cold and emptiness works in its favor. Aspassers-by stopped to peer quietly through the windows, it was as if anothergroup of ghosts had arrived. They should have come in. AlterTheater's 'Ghosts of Bogotá' runs through February 23 inthe vacant store located at 1200 Fourth Street (at the corner of Fourth and BStreets) in San Rafael. There's a Wednesday, February 12 performance at 7:30pm.The Friday and Saturday evening performances at 8:00pm; and the Sunday matineesare at 2pm. For more information, go to altertheater.org https://media.krcb.org/podcast/second_row_center/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/2ND_ROW_CENTER_02.12.20_GHOSTS_O_FEB-12.mp3 Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: Android | RSS

Alter Theater's Ghosts of Bogota (Aired: February 12, 2020)

Marin Theater Company's Noura (Aired: February 5, 2020)

It'sChristmas Eve and a family readies their home for guests. Gifts are placedunder a tree. Food is prepared. Mass will be attended. Millions of Americanswill do the same. This is thefirst Christmas this family will spend as American citizens. Eight yearsafter fleeing Iraq, Noura (Denmo Ibrahim), Tareq (Mattico David) and their sonYazen (Valentino Herrera) have gained naturalized citizenship as evidenced bythe arrival of their new passports. The Americanized names on the passports (Nora,Tim, and Alex) are a sticking point for Noura, though. She feels as if herpast, and more so her identity are being erased. It's thefirst of many conflicts explored in Heather Raffo's Noura, aco-production of the Marin Theatre Company and San Francisco's Golden ThreadProductions. It runs in Mill Valley through February 9. One of theguests expected at Noura and Tareq's home is Maryam (Maya Nazzal), a fellowrefugee and college student they have been sponsoring but have never met. Her condition upon arrival sets up anotherconflict though, curiously, her future employment in weapons development doesnot and barely registers with the folks who fled the bombardment of theirhomes. Rafa'a, achildhood friend of Noura's (Abraham Makany), will also attend and yes, he willbe the source of conflict as well. Then again, when is a scripted Christmasdinner anything but an opportunity for secrets to be revealed andconflicts to come to a head? DenmoIbrahim is terrific in the title role and never more so than in the show'squietest moments. She communicates as much with her visage as she does with thescript. Mattico David, who's played the role of Tareq off-Broadway, is alsoexcellent as Noura's husband who, despite his protestations, has not left quiteeverything from the old country behind. There's good supporting work fromNazzal and Makany. PlaywrightRaffo packs a lot into her 90-minute examination of a woman on the edge.Noura's issue of the loss of her identity through assimilation runs deeps butthere's a lot more going on with her. Past decisions have come back to haunther, and her desire to make everything right may have the opposite effect.We'll never know as the Kate Bergstrom-directed play concludes on an ambiguousnote after a drawn-out ending. While a bitoverstuffed (believe me, there's a lot more going on than I'veindicated), Noura is an interesting take on the modern émigré experience. 'Noura' runsthrough February 9 at the Marin Theatre Company in Mill Valley. Tuesday throughSaturday evening performances are at 7:30pm; there are Saturday and Sundaymatiness at 2pm. For moreinformation, go to marintheatre.org. https://media.krcb.org/podcast/second_row_center/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/2ND_ROW_CENTER_02.05.20_NOURA_FEB-05.mp3 Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: Android | RSS

Marin Theater Company's Noura (Aired: February 5, 2020)

Mary's Wedding at Main Stage West (Aired: January 29, 2020)

Plays and films set during World War I are few and farbetween, at least compared to those that use the Second World War or Vietnam asa framing device. It's been a little over a century since the Armistice, andwhile there have been a few books and films on the subject – like Sam Mendes' 1917 – "The Great War" just doesn'toccupy the collective consciousness of the American public; probably because ofthe half-dozen or so wars that followed "the war to end all wars." Canadian playwright Stephen Massicotte's Mary's Wedding,running now at Sebastopol's Main Stage West through Feb. 1, deals with theromanticism and realities of war as experienced by two young residents ofAlberta, Canada – Charlie Edwards (Sam Coughlin) and Mary Chalmers (ShariaPierce). Charlie enters the theatre and informs the audience that it's1920 and tomorrow is Mary's wedding. What we will be seeing is the dream Maryhas the night before her betrothal. We see how the two met and their awkwardcourtship. We hear how Mary's upper crust British mother disapproves of herrelationship with a "colonial". We learnthat Charlie will soon be off to war. Mary's dream floats between their time together and theirtime apart. Charlie's letters home to Mary come to life as the realities of thehorrors of trench warfare and mustard gas overtake the perceptions of glory andhonor that accompany battle. Charlie, whose only remembrance of literature learnedat school is Alfred, Lord Tennyson's The Charge of the Light Brigade,soon finds himself riding into the Valley of Death. Part memory play, part fantasy, and part Ken Burns PBSdocumentary-influenced historical drama, Mary's Wedding is an incrediblyeffective piece of theatre. Director Missy Weaver's deft handling ofMassicotte's script manages to make the multiple transitions of time and spacefeel seamless. This is due in no small part to the performances of Coughlin andPierce. Working with not much more thana few hay bales, a saw horse, a helmet, and an umbrella, the actors make you seethem astride a horse, or on a ship, or deep in a trench. The wedding gown-draped Pierce also plays Charlie'scommanding officer, which as strange as it sounds, actually works quite wellfor reasons that are made clear in the play. Can the totality of the cost of war be absorbed by a singleindividual? Mary's Weddingreminds us that, sadly, for millions the answer is "yes". 'Mary's Wedding' runs through February 1 at Main Stage West in Sebastopol.Thursday through Saturday evening performances are at 8pm; the Sunday matineeis at 5pm. For more information, go to mainstagewest.com https://media.krcb.org/podcast/second_row_center/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/2ND_ROW_CENTER_01.29.20_MARYS_WE_JAN-29.mp3 Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: Android | RSS

Mary's Wedding at Main Stage West (Aired: January 29, 2020)

Luna Gale at the Cinnabar Theater (Aired: October 23, 2019)

The term "MacGuffin" was popularized byAlfred Hitchcock to describe objects or events that took place in his filmsthat were necessary to begin the plot and motivate the characters but wereessentially irrelevant. It may be harsh to refer to a baby as a MacGuffin, butthe title character in Luna Gale, running through October 27 at Petaluma's Cinnabar Theater, is justthat. She's the newborn of meth-addictedparents Karlie (Miranda Jane Williams) and Peter (Zane Walters). After bringingtheir baby into an emergency room, they're met by Caroline (Liz Jahren), asocial worker who informs them the baby will be taken out of their custodywhile they receive treatment for their addiction. Faced with the choice ofplacing the infant in foster care or with Karlie's mother Cindy (GinaAlvarado), Caroline recommends placement with the child's grandmother. It's adecision she soon regrets. Cindy, an evangelical Christian, seeksto gain full custody of the child with the support of her influential pastor(James Pelican). Caroline thinks the mother's move will be devastating to herdaughter's recovery, but Cindy thinks Karlie's a lost cause. She wants to savethe child (in more ways than one.) Overworked and out of time as her tight-lacedboss (John Browning) supports Cindy's request, Caroline devises a plan to stallthe custody hearing. Will this agnostic sell her soul to save three others? Playwright Rebecca Gilman has written adevastating look at the social services world. Underfunded and frequentlyunavailable, our nation talks a good game when it comes to the treatment ofdamaged individuals but often fails to deliver. Director Jessica Litwak brings astylish directorial approach to the material that, while visually interesting,detracts from the text. The show opensand closes with movement pieces and when cast members are not in a scene,they're dressed in lab coats and act as shelves, flag poles, etc. Rather thanabsorb what's being said, one ponders why there's an arm sticking out of therefrigerator holding a banana. When they're not scenery, the cast isacting the hell out of the script. Liz Jahren gives a towering performance as thesocial worker exhaustively swimming against the tide of an entrenchedbureaucracy. Williams and Walters are quite effective as the troubled parents. Pelicangives an interestingly restrained performance as the church leader. Not as depressing as it sounds, Luna Gale is atribute to all those fighting the good fight – professionally and personally.There's still hope. 'Luna Gale' runs through October 27 at Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma. Fridayand Saturday evening performances are at 7:30pm; the Sunday matinee is at 2pm. For more information, go to cinnabartheater.org https://media.krcb.org/podcast/second_row_center/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/2ND_ROW_CENTER_10.23.19_OCT_23.mp3 Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: Android | RSS

Luna Gale at the Cinnabar Theater (Aired: October 23, 2019)

Sovereignty at Marin Theater Company (Aired: October 16, 2019)

There aren't a lot of plays that explore Native Americanhistory or the modern-day social and political issues that continue tochallenge that community. Mary Kathryn Nagle's Sovereignty, running atthe Marin Theatre Company through Oct. 20, attempts to do both in about twohours. Sarah Ridge Polson (Elizabeth Frances) returns to theCherokee Nation in Oklahoma seeking a position with Attorney General John Ross(John Waid) with the hope of enforcing the Violence Against Women Act on triballands and perhaps getting the opportunity to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's1978 Oliphant decision. That decision declared that Native American TribalCourts had no criminal jurisdiction over non-Native Americans. Things are complicated by family history. Sarah's ancestorswere part of the Cherokee nation who agreed to the Treaty of New Echota whichceded all Cherokee territory east of the Mississippi to the United States andled to the Trail of Tears. Ross'sancestors considered those that supported the treaty traitors and put many ofthem to death. So begins the back and forth between the two centuries thattells the story of the Cherokee nation, the abuse they suffered (and continueto suffer) at the hands of the United States government, the two families, andhow the decisions of the past continue to haunt the present. Playwright Nagle is also an attorney which would explain thevery legal approach she took to her script. In her zeal to enter all thefacts of her case, she enters all the facts of her case through reems ofexpository dialogue in which her characters come off more as court clerksciting cases than co-workers and family members engaged in conversation. It's not the fault of director Jasson Minadakis's talentedcast (the majority of whom are Native American) that the dialogue they're givento deliver often seems straight out of a History Channel reenactment or thatone character leaps from charming goofball to vicious thug in a seeming-millisecond. I left the opening night performance thinking that ratherthan cram two centuries worth of history into a single play, audiences might bebetter served with a series of plays (à laAugust Wilson) that tone down the legal-ese and up the humanity quotient. uerecsa Huer There's a lot of good work on stage and the informationimparted by Sovereignty is important (and sadly little-known), buttheatre needs to be more than just a staged legal brief. 'Sovereignty'runs Tuesday through Sunday through October 20 at Marin Theatre Company in MillValley. Tuesday through Saturday evening performances are at 7:30pm; there are Saturdayand Sunday matinees at 2pm. For moreinformation, go to marintheatre.org. https://media.krcb.org/podcast/second_row_center/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/2ND_ROW_CENTER_10.16.19_SOVEREIG_OCT-16.mp3 Podcast: Play in new window | Download Subscribe: Android | RSS

Sovereignty at Marin Theater Company (Aired: October 16, 2019)

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