Hope, humanity and justice come to town in the retelling of Bertolt Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle. Director John Doyle's modern interpretation of the classic finds a cast of disheveled characters creating their own play from the rubble of a war-torn society. Doyle's signature theatricality is complemented by original music from acclaimed San Francisco composer Nathaniel Stookey in a production ripe with romance, plot twists, humor and even a little audience participation.
Inventive? Check. Irreverent? Check. Confusing? Check. Keep your eye on the plot because it's easy to get lost as the small cast changes roles—men playing women, women playing men, pillow acting as baby—in this fast-moving tale of a servant girl who rescues an abandoned child as the people of the city flee the impending war. When the wealthy, undeserving mother returns for her son, the baby's fate lies in the hands of an unpredictable and self-serving judge who uses the ancient test of the Caucasian Chalk Circle to determine maternity. You'll have to watch to find out whether blood means destiny or whether honesty and good prevail in a vicious fight of nature vs. nurture.
Caucasian Chalk Circle, American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary St., 415-749-2228, February 18 - March 14, $10-$82.