The Roommate, Jen Silverman’s 2015 comedy, premiered at the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival, and has made the rounds of America’s professional regional companies since, including the Williamstown Theatre Festival and the Baltimore Everyman Theatre. Now, it has arrived at the San Francisco Playhouse, the Bay Area’s top theatre company. While it’s doubtful that the play will ever win any major awards, it’s frequently very funny and is a showcase for two actresses of a high calibre to do what they do best: act up a storm.
Farce is quickly becoming the most under-appreciated form of theatre. Though most modern audiences are generally familiar with the format, specifically its penchant for slamming doors while terrified characters duck in and out of the stage at a rapid pace, its immense difficulty in staging tends to intimidate most theatre companies, and thus simpler comedic fare is favored—I have not had the pleasure of getting to see a production of a proper farce since I first started reviewing shows two years ago. That’s reason enough to celebrate the San Francisco Playhouse’s current production of Noises Off, a genuine high-speed farce in which every single one of the show’s ten doors gets slammed with metronomic regularity for the entirety of the performance.
She Loves Me, the 1963 Bock and Harnick romantic musical comedy, has always gotten the short end of the stick, historically. Nobody who has ever seen it thinks its less than a miniature work of musical comedy gold, but the original production—which was directed by the great Harold Prince and starred the legendary Barbara Cook—ran less than a year. Since then, the only major New York revivals have been noncommercial productions that lasted less than half a year each. Thankfully, San Francisco has been gifted with a wonderful production of this wonderful musical, and you should not miss your chance to see She Loves Me while its at the San Francisco Playhouse.
The San Francisco Playhouse, the best regional theatre company in the area, is moving up in the world. After a few years of increasingly impressive productions, finally the company is producing a major world premiere. While I am thrilled that the Playhouse has been given such an opportunity, I’m less thrilled that the play is “Seared”, the new play by Theresa Rebeck. There’s no doubt it’s the best smelling play I’ve ever seen (the show features actual onstage cooking that may have hungry audiences swooning in their seats), but its dramatic integrity is severely lacking.