A pivotal two weeks in history are dramatized in Lawrence Wright’s one-act Camp David. The Old Globe is presenting the Washington, D.C.- based Arena Stage’s production of this riveting if oratorical play about the 1978 peace accords, when then-President Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter hosted Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin (Ned Eisenberg) and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (Khaled Nabawy) at the rustic presidential retreat in Maryland. Wright’s Camp David is a tense meeting of the minds sprinkled with a little peanut-farm folksiness from the Carters (Richard Thomas and Hallie Foote).
While Thomas is the name star of Camp David, it is Nabawy’s grimly dignified Sadat and even more so Eisenberg’s multifaceted portrayal of Begin that hit the play’s highest notes of true drama. Begin’s fierce internal struggle fortifies and ignites the action, and Eisenberg is tremendous. (So is Walt Spangler’s scenic re-creation of the woodsy Camp David compound.) Though its principals speechify as much as they interact, Camp David is an absorbing show.
Camp David runs through June 19 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. $29 and up; oldglobe.org
La Jolla Playhouse’s world-premiere Hollywood, written by Joe DiPietro (Memphis), is like its namesake Tinseltown: sexy, swaggering, glamorous…and artificial. All but one of its characters—a no-B.S. stage mother terrifically played by Harriet Harris—are “types,” scarcely more profound than the suspects in Clue. Now, it’s true that the Christopher Ashley-directed Hollywood is 50 percent a theatrical whodunit, as in who murdered ’20s movie director William Desmond Taylor (Scott Drummond)? But the other 50 percent of the story, having to do with the conservative prig Will H. Hays’ (Patrick Kerr) efforts to moralize the movies and the movie industry at the same time, is by large measure the more interesting narrative.
Wilson Chin’s versatile scenic design, Paul Tazewell’s stylish ’20s costumes and nifty projection design by Tara Knight combine to give Hollywood its “movie magic,” but it’s hard to care about anyone on stage or really about who indeed “done in” the dead director.
Hollywood runs through June 12 at
La Jolla Playhouse. $25-$87. lajollaplayhouse.org
They Don’t Talk Back: A troubled teen is forced to move in with his grandparents in a small Native Alaskan fishing village. See this week’s Short List for more details. Presented by Native Voices at the Autry, it opens May 26 at the La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org
Sordid Lives: When the elderly matriarch dies, a family must sort through their issues or risk embarrassing itself at the funeral. Written by Del Shores, it opens May 27 at the Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com
tokyo fish story: When flashier restaurants start cutting into his business, an old-school sushi chef must make some changes with help from his protégé. Written by Kimber Lee, it opens May 28 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Murder at the Howard Johnsons: A suspenseful comedy in three scenes about a love triangle gone wrong. It opens May 27 at the Legler Benbough Theatre in Scripps Ranch. scrippsranchtheatre.org
Newsies: Disney’s smash Broadway musical about the Newsboys Strike of 1899. Presented by Broadway San Diego, it opens May 31 at the downtown Civic Theatre. broadwaysd.com
Hedda Gabler: A world premiere translation of Henrik Ibsen’s classic tale of a woman trapped in a loveless marriage. Translated by Anne-Charlotte Harvey, it opens June 1 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org
Undergraduate New Play Festival: UCSD students will present original short plays performed both at the Arthur Wagner Theatre and at sitespecific locations on campus. It opens June 1 and runs through June 5. theatre.ucsd.edu
Dinner with Marlene : This world premiere dramedy centers on an actual dinner party that took place in 1938 Paris with movie star Marlene Dietrich and her famous friends. Written by local playwright Anne-Charlotte Harvey, it runs through May 29 at Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
Evita : Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lavish musical about Eva Peron’s rise from the slums of Argentina to the country’s first lady. Directed by Jessica Brandon, it runs through June 4 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. onstageplayhouse.info
Clybourne Park : The Tony and Pulitzer-winning dramedy is set in the same house in a neighborhood of Chicago over two different time periods, and deals in themes of racism and gentrification. Written by Bruce Norris, it runs through June 5 at the Patio Playhouse in Escondido. patioplayhouse.com
Bedside Manners : A lighthearted British farce about a regular guy who agrees to look after his sister’s seedy country hotel. It runs through June 5 at PowPAC Community Theatre in Escondido. powpac.org
The Boy Who Danced on Air : A new musical drama about the Afghani cultural practice of bacha bazi , where older men engage and often buy boys as young as nine-years-old to train them and “keep” them. It runs through June 12 at the Diversionary Theatre in Hillcrest. diversionary.org
Chapter Two : The classic Neil Simon play about a writer and widower attempting, rather hilariously, to find love again. It runs through June 12 at the Lamplighters Community Theatre in La Mesa. lamplighterslamesa.com
Hollywood : Set in the ‘20s, his world premiere noir thriller is based on the true story of the unsolved murder of director William Desmond Taylor. Written by Joe DiPietro, it runs through June 12 at the La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org
Camp David : This new play centers on the 1978 Middle East peace talks between Israel and Egypt and of which the legacy is still felt today. Written by Pulitzer-winner Lawrence Wright, it runs through June 19 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Stupid Fucking Bird : Young artistic types struggle in Aaron Posner’s irreverent take on Chekhov’s The Seagull . Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it opens May 18 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
Woody Guthrie’s American Song : An ensemble musical based on the life of the revered American folk singer and songwriter behind classics like “This Land is Your Land” and “Bound for Glory.” Presented by Intrepid Theatre Company, it runs through June 19 at the Horton Grand Theatre in Downtown. intrepidtheatre.org