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The Tosca Project, Reviewed

"I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. But I'd like to think they were singing about something so beautiful that it can't be expressed in words."

Morgan Freeman's Shawshank Redemption voiceover kept rattling around in my head during The Tosca Project, mainly because I wasn't always entirely sure where the thread of the plot went, but I didn't really care because it was so pretty.

The collaboration between ACT and dancers from San Francisco Ballet is less concrete storyline and more an evocative, movement-driven portrait of the people who've lived in this grand dame of a city and, at one point or another, found themselves drinking at Tosca. Immigrants, war brides, and beat poets suffer love, loss, and the occasional fist to the eye as eras parade past the carved bar and steaming brass coffee urn of this venerable bistro.

Flappers strut (with uncanny balletic technique) between tables and hippies smoke to Hendrix as the bar weathers Prohibition and Pearl Harbor, Vietnam and the Quake of '89. Not to mention pub brawls, Puccini arias, plates of pasta, stolen kisses, and the odd poetry reading. And all of it eddies between radio announcements from the wider world and windows shrouded by San Francisco's ever-present fog.