The Chronicle’s guide to notable arts and entertainment happenings in the Bay Area.
Comedy and tragedy are a double-edged sword in Killing My Lobster’s ‘Good Grief’
Maybe you’re aghast that the world could just blithely move forward, heedless of all the people, all the time, all the memories the pandemic has taken from us. Maybe you are just not OK right now.
Killing My Lobster feels your pain. If existential despair doesn’t sound like grist for the sketch comedy mill, then “Good Grief,” which performs at PianoFight in San Francisco following a run at the company’s Oakland outpost, makes a case that laughter and tears can be equally valid responses to the same tragedies, both the mundane and the world-bending.
“Small losses are compounding,” goes the show’s opening number, written by Allison Page, in a sentiment that needed to be sung if there ever was one. In the sketch “Ashes to Ashes,” by Elaine Gavin, a dad records a video will that is so on point you might start to wonder if all comedy, in some psychological way, is delivered on the brink of death.
Siyu Song directs.
“Good Grief”: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, April 21-23. Through April 30. $16-$42.50. PianoFight, 144 Taylor St., S.F. www.killingmylobster.com
— Lily Janiak
‘What’s Up, Doc?’ brings laughs (and an epic chase) to Total SF Movie Night
“What’s Up, Doc?” co-stars Barbra Streisand and was directed by Peter Bogdanovich at the height of his popularity. But the real star is San Francisco, where almost all of the 1972 movie was filmed.
The romantic screwball comedy about two hapless protagonists caught up in the middle of a luggage-switching mix-up, involving a jewel heist and a government plot, culminates with the second-best chase through San Francisco. (Respect to the makers of “Bullitt.”) It includes a trip through the Richmond District and Chinatown and down the Alta Plaza Park steps, where you can still see the damage from the permit-free filmmaking.
“What’s Up, Doc?” is the 12th Total SF Movie Night, playing at Balboa Theatre in San Francisco’s Richmond District at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 21 — a return to the Balboa after several virtual movie nights. There will be trivia, prizes, live music and an appearance by Total SF mascot Norton the It’s It. (The Balboa sells It’s Its and local beers.) Tickets at balboamovies.com.
“What’s Up Doc?”; 7 p.m. Thursday, April 21. $12.50-$15. Balboa Theatre, 3630 Balboa St., S.F. Tickets: www.balboamovies.com
— Chronicle Staff
‘Happening,’ a French Cesar Award-winning abortion drama, set in the 1960s, screens at BAMPFA
“Happening” was a major critical success in France, with Anamaria Vartolomei winning a well-deserved César Award for most promising actress, a prize that more often than not is the herald of a great career.
Based on the autobiographical novel by Annie Ernaux (“The Other One,” “Simple Passion”), it’s the story of a studious, enterprising young woman who finds out that she is pregnant and decides to have an abortion. The obstacle? It’s the 1960s, and abortion is illegal. So the film becomes the harrowing tale of woman trying to get an illegal abortion that won’t kill her.
The film is presented as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival, and director and co-writer Audrey Diwan will appear and take questions from the audience.
“Happening”: 7 p.m. Friday, April 22. $18. Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2155 Center St., Berkeley. www.bampfa.org
— Mick LaSalle
Nicholas McGegan to lead the Oakland Symphony in music of Mendelssohn
Mendelssohn’s music for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is one of the great acts of creative jigsawing in classical music. After composing the overture at 17 as a stand-alone orchestral work, Mendelssohn returned to it 17 years later and created a suite of incidental pieces to go along with it. They fit perfectly.
That suite, with spoken narration by Ellen Geer, is the headline piece on an upcoming Oakland Symphony concert program led by guest conductor Nicholas McGegan. Libby Larsen’s orchestral work “Evening in the Palace of Reason” — an evocation of life in the Enlightenment court of Frederick the Great — is also on the bill, along with Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 with soloist Natasha Makhijani.
Oakland Symphony: 8 p.m. Friday, April 22. $25-$90. Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland. 510-444-0801. www.oaklandsymphony.org
— Joshua Kosman
Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx star in Michael Mann’s ‘Collateral’
“Collateral” is an exceptional thriller from director Michael Mann, starring Jamie Foxx as a cab driver who picks up a crisply dressed fellow who, on first glance, one might assume to be a youngish executive. But no, he’s a hit man, played by Tom Cruise, and what he wants from the cab driver is a ride to a series of locations where he plans to kill various targets.
Once the cab driver figures out what’s going on, it’s not as though he has a choice, despite knowing that, as the sole witness to a series of crimes, his life expectancy has just been reduced by several decades.
“Collateral” is a series of intense scenes, highlighted by strong performances. The jazz club interlude, featuring a notable turn by Barry Shabaka Henley, is rightly famous.
“Collateral”: 3:00 p.m. Friday, April 22. $13.50. Alamo Drafthouse. 2550 Mission St, San Francisco. www.drafthouse.com/sf
— Mick LaSalle
Palo Alto Players’ ‘Allegiance’ asks what’s changed for Japanese Americans since World War II
Eighty years after President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which paved the way for the internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II, anti-Asian hate remains alive and well, manifesting in verbal and physical attacks and a widespread culture of fear.
That backdrop makes Jay Kuo, Marc Acito and Lorenzo Thione’s musical “Allegiance,” now in a Palo Alto Players production, all the more urgent. The show is inspired by the life of “Star Trek” actor George Takei — in particular the feeling of helplessness his childhood self saw in his father as his family was incarcerated in California and Arkansas.
Two Palo Alto Players cast members, Ron Munekawa and Brandon Gruber, have relatives who were interned. Vinh G. Nguyen directs.
“Allegiance”: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 22-23; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 24. Through May 8. $10-$57. Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. 650-329-0891. https://paplayers.org
— Lily Janiak
FashionABLE panel at Art Market S.F. discusses neurodiversity in apparel design
Art Market San Francisco — now in its 10th edition and set to run Thursday-Sunday, April 21-24 — brings together modern and contemporary galleries from around the world for a four-day fair showcasing the best of what’s new and topical in the art world.
San Francisco art studio and gallery Creativity Explored is a special partner at this year’s event, responsible for a “Mode Brut” fashion exhibition in the VIP lounge and also playing host to a panel discussing accessibility in clothing design. Chronicle columnist Tony Bravo is set to moderate the discussion, titled FashionABLE, featuring Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco associate costume and textile curator Laura L. Camerlengo, Creativity Explored curator Josefin Lundahl, Modern Appealing Clothing boutique co-owner Ben Ospital, Tokyo Gamine fashion designer Yuka Uehara, and Creativity Explored artist Joseph Omolayole.
The event will highlight the work Creativity Explored, and other organizations, have done to expand neurodiversity in fashion and ask questions about how clothing design can be reimagined to be more inclusive of different kinds of textile artists, along with how to create apparel for a more diverse array of customers.
FashionABLE: 1:00 p.m. Sunday, April 24. $25 of one-day pass, $50 for fair pass. Fort Mason Center Festival Pavilion, 2 Marina Blvd. S.F. https://artmarketsf.com/
— Chronicle Staff
For more Datebook Picks and to browse our events calendar, click here.