Crazy love, Crazy in love, Crazy, in need of love!

Crazy love, Crazy in love, Crazy, in need of love, all familiar words, all very familiar themes and these themes have never resonated more clearly than in the two shows I have reviewed for you this week. First, Bosoms and Neglect by John Guare (author of House of Blue Leaves, Moon over Miami, & Six Degrees of Separation, for which he is perhaps best known) is being produced by the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley. Next, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, just opened in the Phoenix II Theatre in San Francisco, produced by Off Broadway West Theatre Company.

A Streetcar Named Desire delivers great drama in San Francisco

A new theatre company in San Francisco, the “Off-Broadway West Theatre Company”, is currently presenting A Streetcar Named Desire, one of Tennessee Williams’ most popular Pulitzer Prize winning plays about family relationships and the problems that can develop in an individual who is in desperate need of attention, love and understanding.

Director Richard Harder has brought together a superlative cast of professionals to bring you what I can only describe as a stunning, heart-wrenching, and provocative production of the Tennessee Williams classic.

The cast includes a new Rossmoor Resident, Maureen I. Williams, who is cast in the role of Eunice Hubble, the upstairs neighbor who provides safe haven for Stella Kowalski (Tara Donoghue) and her visiting older sister, Blanch DuBois, from the drunken domestic violence perpetrated by Stella’s husband, Stanley, against them both.

I doubt that I need to encapsulate Tennessee Williams history nor wax long on his contribution to American Theatre, as just about everybody I know is certainly familiar with one of more of his impressive works. Certainly the 1951 movie version of this play starring the young Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden and Kim Hunter has garnered enough kudos over the years that audiences should be familiar with this work. Williams wrote about the dark, unvarnished underbelly of society, and more specifically in this play, the crude and brutal working class south, resonated with theater-going-audiences all around the world.

In A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanch DuBois (played by Barbara-Michelson-Harder) is an aging Southern belle who lives in a world of fantasy and illusion. She seeks shelter from her troubled past and financial destitution. She travels to New Orleans in hope of moving in with her sister Stella and Stella’s husband, Stanley (played by Kamran Alexander). Blanch cannot accept the rudimentary lifestyle and accommodations available to her in her sisters humble two room apartment, and dwells on in her imaginary world of grace and refinement to which she had become accustomed in her family’s former Southern mansion and estate life. The conflict between reality and Blanch’s desire to have it otherwise, sets up a tumultuous conflict that leads to a sad and perhaps inevitable ending.

The acting is quite excellent as you would expect from a professional level actors. The cast also includes Drew McAuliffe as Mitch (the character played by Karl Malden in the movie), Raul Ramon Rubio as Steve Hubble, Glen Caspillo as Pablo Gonzales, David McKee as the Doctor and Joan Marie Wildman as the Nurse. Kudos must go to Barbara Michelson-Harder, Drew McAuliffe and Kamran Alexander for their superb acting.

This terrific production plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and closes on July 28th. Call (415) 440-6163 or visit their website at for more information and reservations. The theatre is locasted just half a block off Geary, between Post Streets, at 414 Mason Street, on the 6th floor, in the Phoenix Theatre.

Bosoms and Neglect brings John Guare a lot of respect!

Somewhere between 15 and 20 years ago, my wife, Karen, and I had the good fortune to be invited by actress Kimberly Richards, to a production of John Guare’s House of Blue Leaves, in a little theatrical venue in San Francisco. Everything that I have seen that has been written by Guare, including this week’s production at the Aurora, are superlative pieces of comic genius. There cannot possibly be a comedic nook or cranny that Guare has failed to explore and mine, and his writings on the convoluted reasoning’s of crazy people, neurotic people, people in deep need of therapy is absolutely remarkable. Woody Allen’s neurotic genius could have been co-authored by John Guare, he is that good.

Bosoms and Neglect is a play about people in the 60’s and 70’s competing for space on the Psychologists couches in the hay day of pre-Prozac euphoria, unlimited psycho-babble, flower-children tripping on acid and before psychoanalysis surfing became available on the internet. Its lead characters, Cassidy Brown (as “Scooper” , a middle aged unmarried man, who attends three sessions a week on Dr. James’ analytical couch ) and Beth Wilmurt, as Deirdre (a woman with a five-visit a week habit), turn to each other when their therapist leaves town on a vacation leaving them in a psycho-analytical abyss. These accident-prone lovers give “Crazy Love” a new meaning and develop a resulting relationship that takes some wild, wacky ups and downs which eventually sends them both to the local hospital.

Scooper’s blind mother, Henny, is a lady on another horse with no name, a horse that is traveling down another psychotic highway. Henny is suffering from a physical ailment as well as her mental illness and tries to ward off the need for a visiting doctor by waving her plastic statue of St. Jude around her room seeking divine intervention. Henny, is played brilliantly by Joan Mankin. The mother and son relationship affects both of these characters and their problems with relationships intrinsically.

The acting is simply superb. This is an adult comedy that almost defies explanation, but certainly one you will long remember. Bosoms and Neglect is directed by Joy Carlin, a long time professional director and actress. This delightful play continues Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., with Sunday performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., now through July 22nd. Call (510) 843-4822 or visit the Aurora website at for more information and ticket reservation. The Aurora Theatre is located at 2081 Addison Street in Berkeley, just a couple of doors away from The Berkeley Repertory Theatre.