Beyond the Fourth Wall 

Our critics review local theater productions.

Citizen Josh — Josh Kornbluth's latest monologue chronicling his progress from a disillusioned voter to an enhanced level of civic involvement feels relatively slight next to previous one-man shows such as Haiku Tunnel and Red Diaper Baby. Although ostensibly a rumination on democracy, Citizen Josh is just as much about his senior thesis at Princeton being 26 years late, and the conceit is that this monologue itself is his much-belated thesis. Parts of the monologue that are hilarious, especially his account of waiting for his senior thesis to happen somehow without any effort on his part, but the monologue's own thesis feels underdeveloped. There's some great stuff buried in there about democracy starting right where you are, right now, but at this point it's more inferred than heard. (Through September 2 at Berkeley Repertory Theatre; Berkeley or 510-647-2949.)

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 (Victor Toman), a muckraking journalist recalled to army service and tamed into writing feel-good puff pieces. There's Kevin Rolston's spunky photographer 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 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. Certain flourishes sometimes give the proceedings a faux-Shakespearean air, but many of the best lines are straight from the book. (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. (Through September 2 at Bruns Memorial Amphitheater; or 510-548-9666.)


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