Beyond the Fourth Wall 

Our critics review local theater productions.

Aaah! Rosebud — While Citizen Kane centers on a quest to find out what a rich and powerful man's dying word means, Thunderbird Theatre Company's latest gets that part out of the way early so that it can get to the heart of the story — one man's thirst for power, aided by an evil sled that turns people into zombies. The forces of good are represented by intrepid reporters and aficionados of the sport of curling. Peter Finch's script is packed with great lines poking fun at its own gaping plot holes. Jason Harding is a delight as Kane, with a maniacal laugh and a resonant, retro delivery, and Faith Aeryn also has a great old Hollywood look and sound as ingénue Margaret. Jeremy Cole's bitchy queen Goldfarb starts as stereotype but becomes a highlight of the show. (Through September 8 at New Langton Arts; at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts September 21 & 22; or 415-289-6766.)

Bleacher Bums— Directed by ubiquitous Contra Costa comic actor Joel Roster, this 1977 play conceived by Joe Mantegna is about colorful Chicago Cubs fans in the stands at Wrigley Field, and if that sounds fabulous, it's probably right up your alley. Marcus Klinger is nicely cynical as ex-fan Marvin, who rakes in money by betting against the home team. Ginny Wehrmeister radiates artfully oblivious sex appeal in the eye-candy role of Melody. Sean Robert Griffin gives blind Greg a placid charm, although his shtick of punning on every player's name is irritating. Henry Perkins enlivens the show as an obnoxious superfan who rarely speaks below a war whoop. Dennis Markam is often hilarious as the clueless dweeb Richie. There's something romantic about staying true to the losing team, but as a play it's fairly uneventful. If you were to lay a wager on how it would end, you'd almost certainly be in the ballpark. (Through October 14 at Town Hall Theatre; or 925-283-1557.)

The Three Musketeers— There's a satisfying amount of swordplay in this stage version of the 1844 novel by Alexandre Dumas père, adapted and directed by Joanie McBrien for Shotgun Players' free outdoor summer show. The fights choreographed by Dave Maier (who also plays Athos) are fast-paced and often dizzyingly complex. Whereas many adaptations focus on the first part of the book, the McBrien version attempts to hit the highlights from beginning to end, with many short, utilitarian scenes to move the story along. Certain flourishes of the dialogue and scene structure sometimes give the proceedings a faux-Shakespearean air, but many of the best lines are straight from the book. The cast plays it considerably larger than life, never a bad idea when performing outdoors. (Through September 9 in John Hinkel Park; or 510-841-6500.)


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