Nov. 18 2015 03:50 PM

Time travel, technology, emotions mix it up in Moxie Theatre production

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Eddie Yaroch (left) and Justin Lang in The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence
Photo by Daren Scott

Time travel propels Moxie Theatre’s production of Madeleine George’s The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence. There’s a lot going on here. The play is a treatise on the complex, symbiotic relationship between human beings and the increasingly technological world in which we live. It’s also a cautionary narrative about the perils of relying on the safety of externals at the expense of open emotion. And it’s a “curious case” of love designed to conquer all but in the end, unable to.

The eponymous Watson is four different characters, all played by Justin Lang. Among them is Sherlock Holmes’ faithful cohort, of course. Another is that computer that whipped up on humans on Jeopardy. The Watson who’s one-half of the love story (a hormonal computer dweeb) is earnest and sensitive to the point that you prefer a robot. Jo Anne Glover is the object of his affections. Her character, Eliza, is achingly confused about the value and integrity of genuine feelings. This makes for a muddled conclusion. Eddie Yaroch, whether in present-day or historical roles, shines, and does so more brightly than do the proffered truths of this play.

The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence runs through Dec. 6 at Moxie Theatre in Rolando. $25-$30. moxietheatre.com


The staccato-paced scene changing of Tanya Barfield’s Bright Half Life suggests an advanced acting class exercise in which students on a nearly bare stage (substantial sets aren’t really necessary in this one) are compelled to change attitudes and emotions on a dime. The effect can be entertaining or exasperating depending on one’s tolerance for and appreciation of this whirlwind theatrical device. It helps that Diversionary Theatre’s production of Bright Half Life co-stars two likable actors, Rin Ehlers Sheldon and Bri Giger, portraying a frequently nervous lesbian couple whose relationship goes from the office to the bedroom to co-parenting a couple of kids to separation—decidedly not in chronological order. The 65-minute play directed by Lydia Fort bounces around in time, providing a brisk but choppy look at a relationship with all its highs and lows. It’s neither as sexy nor as profound as it tries to be.

Bright Half Life runs through Nov. 29 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. $29-$51. diversionary.org


OPENING

War of the Worlds: A staged production of H.G. Wells’ classic about an alien invasion. Adapted by Howard E Koch, it opens for five performances Nov. 18 at the Arthur Wagner Theatre at UCSD. theatre.ucsd.edu

Much Ado About Nothing: The Bard’s witty comedy about how a war of words can sometimes lead to a marriage of hearts. Part of the Old Globe’s “Globe for All” program, it opens for four performances Nov. 21 in the Globe’s House of Charm rehearsal room. theoldglobe.org

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: The extravagant musical production based on the movie about a grumpy hairball and the belle who loves him. Performed by the touring Broadway cast, it opens for eight performances Nov.24 at the Civic Theatre in Downtown. broadwaysd.com

The Last Book of Homer: A free staged reading of José Rivera’s comedy about a screenwriter named Numb Nuts who gets kidnapped in Mexico while filming a movie about the Trojan War. Presented by Amigos del Rep, it happens Nov. 24 at the Lyceum Theatre in Downtown. sdrep.org

NOW PLAYING

Precious Little: A gifted linguist receives some troubling news about her pregnancy, but finds solace in two very unexpected places. Presented by Inner Mission Productions, it runs through Nov. 21 at the Diversionary Theatre in Hillcrest. innermissionproductions.org

Rhinoceros: This three-act play cleverly criticizes the rise of fascism with a story about a small French town where the inhabitants mysteriously turn into rhinoceroses. Written by Eugène Ionesco, it runs through Nov. 21 at UCSD’s Theodore and Adele Shank Theatre in La Jolla. theatre.ucsd.edu

As You Like It: One of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, this one also involves cross-dressing and the power of true love. Performed by students from the Old Globe/USD M.F.A. Program, it plays through Nov. 22 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org

End of the Rainbow: The Tony-nominated drama about the final days of Judy Garland that features some of her more beloved songs. Presented by Intrepid Theatre Company, it runs through Nov. 29 at the Lyceum Space Theatre in the Gaslamp. intrepidtheatre.org

Bright Half Life: The West Coast premiere of the dramedy about a lesbian couple told in snapshot scenes spanning 40 years. Written by Tanya Barfield, it plays through Nov. 29 at the Diversionary Theatre in Hillcrest. diversionary.org

The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence: The West Coast premiere of the time-jumping play about four Watsons (Sherlock Holmes’ assistant, the Jeopardy! super-computer, etc.) who become companions in the present day. Written by Madeleine George, it plays through Dec. 4 at the Moxie Theatre in Rolando.

The Oldest Boy: Two parents have to decide whether to let their three-year-old son go to India to become a Buddhist master. Combining theatre, puppetry and dance, it runs through Dec. 6 at the Lyceum Theatre in Downtown. sdrep.org

Indecent: This world premiere musical centers on the controversial ’20s debut of the Broadway play, God of Vengeance. Written by Paula Vogel, it plays through Dec. 10 at the La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org

Vonya and Sonia and Masha and Spike: Things get heated in this dramedy about two middle-aged stepsisters dealing with a sudden visit from their other sister and her new boy-toy. Written by Christopher Durang, it runs through Dec. 20 at the Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Now in its 18th year, this holiday classic tells the musical tale of a green grump who plans to ruin the holidays for the town of Whoville. Directed by James Vásquez, it plays through Dec. 26 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org

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