Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
The young and progressive Left Coast Theatre Company is presenting six scenes based on current news events. The 90-minute offering playing at the Phoenix Theatre in San Francisco is simply called Left Coast News. It's a cross between "Saturday Night Live" and "Second City." Clever writing dominates each scene along with exceptional performances by the cast.
The first scene is called "Poster Girl" and it's based on the news event of the county clerk in Kentucky who refused to sell marriage licenses to same sex couples. The opening scene shows two actors being interviewed for a gay couple and an actress for the Kentucky clerk. Apparently, the actors are heterosexuals and so they camp it up incredibly. This is for a television series called "News and Entertainment." It is well acted by the group.
The second scene is called "The Distraction" and is based on the water crisis in Michigan. A group of state senators meet behind closed doors to discuss a distraction. What goes wrong is that one member is gay (Karl Schackne) and another is a Bible thumping woman (Terry Bamberger). Nothing gets accomplished. There is a lot of talk about sodomy in this scene. Terry Bamberger and Karl Schackne along with Sabina De Mio as a Catholic mother of two who wants to get home to the kids nicely camp it up.
"Los Angeles" is the most serious of the six as the announcer says a woman has gone missing in LA. She has joined the Scientologist group. Is it a body of religious practices or a prison of belief? Nora (Erica Andracchio) has been kissed by a fellow member of the sect, Bianca (Eliza Boivin), and she likes it. She has no idea what to do since the sect condemns lesbianism. Bravely, Nora speaks out to the world. Erica Andracchio gives a vivid portrayal of a woman who is torn between the cult and her feelings about being a lesbian.
"Rags to Bitches" is about drag queens and could be based on the Joan Crawford and Bette Davis feud. They are sitting side by side at each dressing tables about to enter a drag competition at he U.S. Open Legs Drag Pageant. Of course they bitch at each other. Aaron Tworek and Jonie Legaspi are wonderful as the two drag queens.
"The Conversation" refers to a failed attempt of Starbucks. They wanted to start a project to get people talking about the issues that are inflaming passions in America. The customers at the local Starbucks are not in a mood to discuss their passions with strangers. This is the weakest of the group but the actors give good performances.
"Normal, IL" is the best of the group. Aliens have abducted a baby from two gay men and he comes back gayer than ever, singing Broadway show tunes. It's fun, with clever writing by Rita Long. Chris Maltby gives a pitch perfect performance as the big gay baby.
All in all, this is an entertaining evening with adroit acting, ingenious dialogue, and perfect directing on the part of Terry Maloney Haley, Richard S. Sargent, Chris Maltby and Debi Durst.
Left Coast News plays through November 12, 2016, at the Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason St, San Francisco. Tickets can be obtain through www.lctc-sf.org.