Capsule Reviews 

Our critics weigh in on East Bay theater.

Dybbuk -- It's easy to see why Dybbuk was chosen to close out Traveling Jewish Theatre's 25th anniversary season. S. Ansky's play has been a Yiddish theater standard ever since its 1920 debut, and its recent history is deeply intertwined with that of the company. It is a hair-raising ghost story, a love story, and a religious parable all in one, brilliantly embodied by two actors in multiple roles. The tale in question is of the grim fate of Chanon, a student of the Kabbalah who is a few candles short of menorah to begin with, obsessing over numerological signs and portents and writhing feverishly with love for his young neighbor Leah. When he finds out Leah's father has engaged her to a much richer boy, Chanon drops dead on the spot to become a dybbuk, a restless spirit that possesses the living, and becomes united with his love in a much more literal sense. A great deal is demanded of the performers in this piece, and the two guests artists in this production rise to the challenge beautifully. Keith C. Davis is haunting as Chanon and the hooded exorcist enlisted to cast him out. Karine Koret so completely transforms herself from the deep spirituality and playful sensuality of the storytelling wife, to the girlish innocence of Leah, to the bookish agitation of a fellow Kabbalah student aghast at Chanon's heretical views, to the bestial moans of the dybbuk in Leah's body, that often she doesn't even resemble herself. (Through May 27 at the Julia Morgan Theater; 415-285-8080 or ATJT.com)

Money & Run-- Conventional wisdom has it that the young folks who constitute Impact Theatre's demographic would rather watch TV than go see live theater. With Money & Run, they no longer have to choose. A pitch-perfect parody of schlocky TV action shows complete with opening credits and a "previously on Money & Run" montage, this serial wraps up Impact's season with a bang, pow, biff, and zowie. Episode one plays on Thursdays, part two on Fridays, and the party of the third part on Saturdays. The episodes can be watched in any order, but if the second installment is any indication, any one of them will richly reward an evening's absence from your mom's couch. Episode one introduces Robby Jean "Money" Marshall and Jimmy Jake "Run" McAllister (to us and to each other), two young lovers on the lam who meet when they decide to knock over the same liquor store. Alexandra Creighton and Casey Jackson offer hilariously overwrought meta-performances portraying rebels from the wrong side of the tracks as played by dumb-bunny models, striking deliciously campy poses and dripping in bathos as they share the anguish of their tangled pasts. In chapter two, "Of Nuns and Ninjas," Money and Run have to save an orphanage so that Big Momma Bob can erect Liquor World, "the nation's first and only alcohol-themed family fun park." "Oh no," some might say, as they nibble their brie and sip their chardonnay. "Not another campy TV spoof!" Ayup, I reckon it is, but one that can be enjoyed wholeheartedly as well as ironically. (Through June 5 at La Val's Subterranean; 510-464-4468 or ImpactTheatre.com

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