Beyond the Fourth Wall 

Our critics review local theater productions.

Making a Killing — Michael Gene Sullivan's script has everything you want from an old-school San Francisco Mime Troupe show. There's a hero of the people aching to be unleashed in Corporal Emiliano Jones (Victor Toman), a muckraking journalist recalled to army service by the Iraq war and tamed into writing feel-good puff pieces. There's Kevin Rolston's spunky photographer Corporal Marcus Johnson as sidekick, conscience, and foil for Jones, as well as his romantic interest. There are great villains to boo and hiss in Ed Holmes' snarling Dick Cheney and Velina Brown's haughty Condoleezza Rice. Pat Moran's insidiously catchy songs keep things snappy. The nefarious plot has contractors tearing down an Iraqi clinic to build a grander PR-friendly clinic, then tearing that down to build an even bigger one. (Through September 3 in local parks; or 415-285-1717.)

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 ate 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.)

The Triumph of Love — California Shakespeare Theater debuts writer-director Lillian Groag's adaptation of the 1732 Marivaux comedy, a coproduction with San Jose Rep. Having inherited an illegitimately seized throne, a princess in drag plans to make the rightful heir fall in love with her before she hands over the throne to him, and she'll just have to seduce anyone who stands in her way. Once a seemingly interminable amount of exposition is out of the way, the play is a constant delight. All the elements of the production blend beautifully to move the story forward, and the cast is excellent and full of surprises. Stacy Ross is marvelous as Princess Léonide, thinking quickly on her feet and turning on the charm as if from a faucet, and Jud Williford is a hilarious bundle of nervous energy as her beloved Agis. Danny Scheie strikes home even with the broadest of comic bits as the clown Arlecchino, especially when teamed with Ron Campbell's rustic gardener Dimas. (Through September 2 at Bruns Memorial Amphitheater; or 510-548-9666.)


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