If you had to turn off the radio - possibly by hurling a dinner roll or a hardback novel or whatever else came to hand - whenever President Bush's dulcet tones hit the airwaves, brace yourself. Berkeley Rep's In The Wake is underscored by Bush's presidency, from Florida to reelection to his ignominious departure from the world stage. But the story's emotional center is a family's journey from a halcyonic Thanksgiving - marred only by the cigarette-roughened antisocial tendencies of an unexpected guest - to disintegration.
A whole list of suitably ironic hipster bars was concocted for this series and I fully intended to stick with it, at least until I found myself at the Clift Hotel with out-of-town guests on Monday night. People, drinking in the Redwood Room is like attending Hogwarts without the treacle pudding and magical ability. Fairly innocuous while displaying Klimt's greatest hits, the digital frames lining the redwood walls eventually switched to unsettling Harry Potter-esque portraits of people who move when really they should be sitting still. Rather than blinking and breathing and staring down their patrician noses as you gulp your second strawberry margarita.
Immortalized on dorm room walls of every undergrad from here to Beijing, it could be said that Monet's water lilies have entered the dreaded realm of cliché. But in the late 19th century, his work was revolutionary. Critics in 1874 found dappled sunlight and thick swabs of bright paint painfully offensive, and those who slathered such rot on their canvases were relegated to the fringes of the art world.
But there are no water lilies in Birth of Impressionism, the new exhibit that opened at the De Young this week. Instead, there are turkeys, a surprising number of dead fish (still lifes aren't all chrysanthemums and lemons, people), cherubs riding dolphins, and naked women rising from seashells (as naked women are wont to do).
Between Facebook, Twitter, and email, we tend to know more about our friends via their status updates than we do from talking to them face-to-face. Or even over that charming old technology, the telephone. Choreographer Sara Shelton Mann and media artist David Szlasa join forces to investigate how people experience each other when much of that experiencing is done via a little glowing screen. The world premiere of tribes/dominion is an amalgam of recorded sound, live recorded text, spoken images, and movement – all of which is given the same weight, rather than one medium existing only to supplement another.
Sometimes it's tough to tell if that dusty square behind the Wild Turkey is really swirling or if that third gin and tonic is altering your reality perception censors - i.e., you're so hammered you can't tell a Pissaro from an exit sign. Instead of leaving you to your own drunken devices, we're staking out the city's finest watering holes for the newly instated Weird Art in Bars series. This is clear-eyed, hard-hitting investigative journalism at its finest, folks - at least until the bartender finishes filling my pint glass.
Known for snaps of personality and unexpected twists one doesn't often find at Swan Lake, Smuin Ballet has outdone itself this season. Scoring a much-coveted Jiri Kylian piece - arguably the best choreographer in the world, receiving permission to use one of his works is a Herculean feat - Smuin's dancers perform an elegantly articulated seduction with sharp props and lots of bare skin. (The dancers handily avoid skewering any toes, if you're worried.) Erotically charged and expertly composed, Kylian's Petite Mort (why, yes, that IS French for orgasm) is not to be missed - whether you're a ballet fan or not.
American Conservatory's latest proves your average English garden can play host to a maelstrom of romantic peccadilloes, from lovers lurking in the ivy to oblivious would-be lovers shamelessly using not-so-ailing family cats as an excuse to appear each and every day. Round and Round the Garden is Alan Ayckbourn's comic ode to family entanglements, where "family entanglements" equal "Norman the librarian trying to seduce his two sisters-in-law." While he also attempts to cajole his estranged wife back into marital harmony. Predictably, things go south.
Bach tossed in every available orchestral instrument when he composed the Brandenburg Concertos, a canny move that was labeled daring by his contemporaries and possibly cemented his status as the James Dean of Baroque. The following two hundred years mellowed the Brandenburg Concertos into beloved classics - and the newly minted string ensemble Archetti's eloquent performance is just in time for Mother's Day. Assuming your mom is into rebellion, 18th Century-style.
May 9-10, 3 p.m. Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness. Tickets are $32-42 at (415) 392-4400.
Thirty-five of the best amateur skaters in the country descend on Fort Mason Center this Saturday - including Ben Hatchell (by all accounts a bad ass) and locals Aaron Herrington, Tristan Moss, Jerry Gurney, and Jack Given - to compete in the first World Cup skating competition San Francisco has seen in nine years. As a collective, at least. There are perhaps individual San Franciscans who have seen skating competitions in the past decade. The point is, it's been awhile since our fair city hosted this vivid maelstrom of robust youth culture. (Do I sound old? I am old.) (YOU KIDS GET YOUR SAGGING SKINNY JEANS OFF MY STOOP.)