Arts & Events

Around & About Theater: 'Penthesilea' Free Outdoors at John Hinkel Park Amphitheater; Kurt Weill at Masquers Playhouse; Oscar Wilde at Marin Shakespeare

Ken Bullock
Friday August 22, 2014 - 01:20:00 PM

—The Amazons descend on the Trojan War to help the beleaguered city, capture Achilles ... whom their tough female chieftan, Penthesilea, becomes enamored of—and Achilles seems to reciprocate. But if the wars continue—will they have to face each other in combat? 

The old legend, an outrider of The Iliad, is the story for Heinrich von Kleist's great, ambiguous 19th century play named after the Amazon queen. In an unusual co-production by two Berkeley theater troupes, Inferno Theatre and Actors Ensemble, a new adaptation by Inferno's founder, Giulio Cesare Perrone—who also directed & designed the production—will be staged—Free!—in the Amphitheater at John Hinkel Park in the Berkeley hills for seven performances, opening this Saturday and Sunday at 4 p. m. and continuing Labor Day weekend (including Monday), then closing the final weekend of September 6-7, all shows at 4. 

The new version compresses the text, adding new flourishes, according to the companies' statement. Inferno has already staged a version of The Iliad, reviewed in the Planet, March 21, 2011. 

(As an historical side note, Catherine the Great reviewed a detachment of "Amazons" for the Russian annexation of Crimea in 1783, rewarding their leader as the first female officer of the Russian Army—something Kleist would've known about when he wrote 'Penthesilea' a quarter century later.) 

John Hinkel Park, 41 Somerset Place, off Southampton near Arlington. Wheelchair accessible; first rows reserved for seniors & disabled. 649-5999 

—Masquers Playhouse in Pt. Richmond is opening 'Berlin to Broadway With Kurt Weill,' a compendium of his musical numbers from 'Mahagonny' and 'Threepenny Opera' to 'One Touch of Venus' and 'Lost in the Stars,' with lyricists ranging from Bertolt Brecht to Ogden Nash, from Weimar Republic Berlin to Cold War Great White Way ... The great songs—'Mack the Knife' and 'Alabama Song' to ''Speak Low" and 'September Song"—that were debuted by Lotte Lenya, Peter Lorre and Walter Huston, among others ... directed by Ellen Brooks, with music direction by Bruce Haines, with the cast: Nick Hengl, Tina Marzell, Jenny Matteucci, Maria Mikheyenko, J. Scott Stuart and Gayelan Tietje-Ulrich. 

Fridays and Saturdays at 8, Sundays (August 22; September 7 & 14) at 2, August 22-September 20 at Masquers Playhouse, 105 Park Place, Pt. Richmond. $22. 233-4031; 

—Oscar Wilde's 'An Ideal Husband,' is opening this weekend at Marin Shakespeare, featuring Cat Thompson and Darren Bridgett, Marcia Pizzo and Julian Lopez-Morillas in Wilde's deft political-social comedy, directed by Marin Shakes' artistic director Robert Currier in the amphitheater at Forest Meadows, Dominican University, San Rafael. Running in repertory with 'Romeo & Juliet,' different weekend nights and matinees, August 23-September 27. $20-$35. (415) 499-4488;