Review: “A Thousand Splendid Suns” at American Conservatory Theatre

A Thousand Splendid Suns, currently being presented at the American Conservatory Theatre, is a major theatrical event no matter how you slice it. Khaled Hosseini’s 2007 novel was a literary sensation, the follow-up novel to the 2003 cultural event that was The Kite Runner and a New York Times #1 bestseller for fifteen weeks after publication. It is therefore automatically of note that the first major adaptation is being presented not on Broadway, but in San Francisco, where it is running until the end of February. Not having read the novel, I cannot speak to its quality, nor can I speak to how well playwright Ursula Rani Sarma has adapted the material for the stage, but I can say with some assurance that A Thousand Splendid Suns simply doesn’t work as a piece of stagecraft, being both overly-melodramatic and unfortunately shallow, despite good intentions. Continue reading “Review: “A Thousand Splendid Suns” at American Conservatory Theatre”

Review: “Disgraced” at The Stage, San Jose

In the words of the official Pulitzer committee, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama is given “for a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life”. Measured by this phrase, Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced, which won the 2013 Pulitzer and just opened in a terrific new production at The Stage in downtown San Jose, is a theatrical home run. The 2012 drama is blistering and brutal and so politically dense and culturally relevant (perhaps now more than ever) as to make your head spin. Continue reading “Review: “Disgraced” at The Stage, San Jose”

Review: “The Night Alive” at San Jose Stage Company

Since the death of the great Brian Friel, there are two playwrights who might lay claim to the title of Ireland’s greatest living playwright. Those two are Martin McDonagh and Conor McPherson, a pair of writers who could not be more different in writing style if they were born two thousand years apart. While both write black comedies, McDonagh prefers to encourage the audience to laugh as his characters writhe in the filth of their lives, McPherson forces you into the lives of his characters, so that every laugh has a twinge of pain.

Continue reading “Review: “The Night Alive” at San Jose Stage Company”