Scapin (Bill Irwin, left) involves fellow servant Sylvestre (A.C.T. Master Fine Arts Program graduate Jud Williford) in his scheming. Photo by Kevin Berne.

SCAPIN by Moliere adapted by Bill Irwin and Mark O’Donnell and directed by Bill Irwin. American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 94108. 415.749.2228 or September 23 – October 17, 2010.



After angst filled dramatic evening the previous night at the Magic Theatre’s staging of The Brothers Size, it is an absolute pleasure to roar with laughter at A.C.T.’s hysterical production of Bill Irwin and Mark O’Donnell’s adaptation of Moliere’s farce Scapin. Not only is the adaptation brilliant, but also the cast meshes together like a finely oiled machine with all the cogs intersecting on cue.

The multitalented Bill Irwin author and star of the show doesn’t stick to Moliere’s words and that’s good, very good. His topical references and asides are greatly appreciated almost bringing this 17th century farce into the 21st century even though the ancient commedia dell’arte masters could use Eric Flatmo’s marvelous set. Baggy pants Irwin is a helpful bundle of joy as Scapin who helps two young swains overcome the objection of their rich fathers to their choice of female companions.

I doubt if Irwin has a single solid bone in his body that moves in unbelievable directions maintaining perfect balance as his knees buckle, his feet move in one direction and his head and body in another. He has surrounded himself with perfect companions and foils starting with Jud Williford playing Scapin’s partner in crime, the servant Sylvestre. Williford who has just completed a Tony Award winning type performance as Macbeth at Cal Shakes displays an inordinate talent for comedy partially holding his own in scenes with Irwin. Their interaction and double takes are masterful along with their hilarious dance as they give a rousing rendition of the shuffle off to Buffalo routine. The climactic chase scene is a combination of Keystone Kops, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and every other noted comic. Irwin, like Moliere, doesn’t hesitate to take the best of what is out there and wrap it up with a personal touch that is stamped “Fashioned or adapted by Bill Irwin.”

The story is the stuff that commedia dell’arte is made of. Servants outwit masters and true love prevails. That is all you need to know when you treat yourselves to this evening to remember. A.C.T. audience favorite Gregory Wallace, playing Octave, starts the ball rolling with his usual arched eyebrows and distinctive expressive voice engaging the two aforementioned servants to aid his cause. . . mainly to get his father Argante ( Steven Anthony Jones) off his back so he can wed his paramour Hyacinth (the gorgeous Ashely Wickett). The other lover needing Scapin and Sylvestre’s help is Leander (Patrick Lane) son of Geronte (Geoff Hoyle). Leander’s love is the volatile concupiscent gypsy Zerbinette (Rene Augesen). Augesen nails the role, in voice, action and lascivious gestures.

Special accolade Geoff Hoyle, Bill Irwin’s long time friend and acting companion who suffers the indignities of being stuffed in a sack and pummeled by Scapin and, believe it or not, members of the audience! The musical accompaniment by George (Randy Craig) on the keyboard and percussionist and Fred (Keith Terry) is in perfect sync with the shenanigans on stage and off when Irwin ends up in the loge in drag. Sorry, dressed as a woman season ticket holder. It is a superlative evening that received a resounding standing ovation. The running time is just under 2 hours with intermission and you will be asking for more.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of


Tobie Windham and Joshua Elijah Reese as Oshoosi and Ogun Size in The Brothers Size at Magic Theatre. Written by Tarell Alvin McCraney, directed by Octavio Solis. Photo by Jennifer Reiley.

THE BROTHERS SIZE: Drama, Part Two of the Brothers/Sisters Plays by Tarell Alvin McCraney and directed by Octavio Solis. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Bldg D, 3rd Fl, San Francisco, CA 94123. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Bldg D, 3rd Fl, San Francisco, CA 94123. Box Office: (415) 441-8822 or visit


The Bothers/Sister Plays, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s trilogy of life in the mythical Louisiana Bayou town of San Pere begot life at the Marin Theatre Company with their stunning production of In the Red and Brown Water the first of the series. The baton has been passed to Magic Theatre where Part Two: The Brothers Size is receiving a muscular standing ovation production under Octavio Solis’s direction. It is a taut memorable 80-minute evening without intermission.

It is not necessary to have seen Part 1 at the Marin Theatre Company (It has been extended to October 10 and should not be missed), since The Brothers Size stands alone. There are only three characters, all with Yoruba religious mythical names to emphasize that the actors face “the challenge of a role greater than himself. . . and he ‘becomes’ his role.” Joshua Elijah Reese, Tobie Windham and Alex Ubokudon respectively and certainly do become Ogun Size, Oshoosi Size and Elegba. Although there are two dream/nightmare sequences that take on a mythical patina format, myth takes a back seat to a gritty masculine story of brotherly love amidst present day racism.

Ogun Size runs a very successful auto repair garage and his younger brother Oshoosi returns home after being paroled from jail. . Elegba, a troublesome trickster as his name suggests, has been Oshoosi’s lover/protector while they were in jail. Oshoosi is floundering without direction and Ogun has accepted the burden of being his protector and mentor. Conflict between the brothers is exacerbated with Elegba’s influence leading Oshoosi into dangerous social behavior and eventual conflict with the law.

The honed physical bodies of the actors reflects the passionate writing of the author who has fashioned a powerful well constructed play that fits together perfectly and has the audience jumping to its feet for an extended applause. Within the tense drama there is ironic humor with a beautifully written scene with Tobie Windham [Oshooi] and Alex Ubokudon [Elegba] acting out their interaction with a local cop harassing them at a traffic stop. . The brothers animosity and sibling rivalry meld into true love as Elegba’s love is gently rejected.

The Magic Theatre’s intimate three-sided performing area is a perfect setting to draw the audience into the play. The production staff has fashioned a dark, minimalist set of a garage with a few tires and oil drums reflecting the oppressive atmosphere of life in the bayou. Whereas Marin Theatre’s production was an intellectual journey into the psyche of the characters with a Greek chorus and directional conceits that sometimes overshadows the story line, Octavio Solis allows his trio be the center of attention.

When you do go, and you must, be prepared for a griping evening that will fortify your desire to see all three parts of the trilogy. Next up is A.C.T.’s production of Part 3: Marcus: or The Secret of Sweet, opening in November.

Kedar K. Adour, Md

Courtesy of