What's Happening in East Bay Theater 

Our critics weigh in on local theater.

Cabaret -- Ah, the holidays. Time for familiar music, wholesome cheer, nudity, politics, simulated sex, and dripping blood. At least at the Ashby Playhouse, where the Shotgun Players once again resist the Dickensian compulsion by staging Masteroff, Kander, and Ebb's debauched Cabaret through the end of the year. Clifford Bradshaw has come to Weimar Berlin to write his great novel, a task at which he fails miserably once the boisterous, demanding Sally Bowles trips into his life and blithely turns everything upside down. -- L.D. (Through January 29 at the Ashby Stage; ShotgunPlayers.org or 510-841-6500.)

Cirque Do Somethin' -- How many ways can you put on a hat? Unique Derique, clown and body percussionist, can put on a hat repeatedly without doing it the same way twice. Derique McGee is a menace to the repose of headwear everywhere. Paired with the wild-haired, woebegone Mr. YooWho (Moshe Cohen), it's not just hats but noses, trash bags, yoga, and children from the audience who get the full clown treatment in the Marsh Berkeley's production of Cirque Do Somethin'. The combination yields an hour that enchants children while keeping their adult minders engaged. -- L.D. (Through January 21 at the Marsh Berkeley; TheMarsh.org or 800-838-3006.)

Walkin' Talkin' Bill Hawkins -- W. Allen Taylor's one-man show about searching for the father he never knew, the first black disc jockey in Cleveland, shows considerable polish, funny and poignant in all the right places. Directed by Gloria Weinstock from an earlier version helmed by Ellen Sebastian Chang, the production beautifully incorporates old R&B and jazz hits as well as slides and radio clips of father and son. Though Taylor's jive-talking, fictional DJ alter ego the Kid grates a bit, the way he embodies various people on his journey is particularly impressive, from himself as a young boy to various acquaintances of his father's to the mother who withheld his father's identity until it was too late to know him. -- S.H. (Through January 28 at the Marsh Berkeley; TheMarsh.org or 800-838-3006.)


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