It starts at a modern tail of out-of-work or underemployed young people with masters degrees trying to figure out how to make their way in a crazy recession-riddled world. Then slowly morphs into a humorous retelling of Macbeth that slowly spirals out of control. As a writer myself, it was the kind of story where I just hold on tight and think "Oh my god, who is she going to write her way out of this one?" But Gunderson pulls a perfectly satisfying ending with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
I particularly enjoyed the weaving in of Shakespeare's actual lines. They're introduced slowly and smartly and by the end feel seamless. Giants fans will also get a kick out of the running baseball story-line. Although it was especially meta to be watching the run-through two weeks ago just after the Giants had forced Game 7 of the NLCS. Fortunately for Giants fans, everything worked out and a World Series Victory Parade will pass in front of my office today. So if you want to relish your Championship a little, this play gives you a good excuse.
I didn't see it with costumes or all of the props or even anything remotely approaching the finished set. Still, when I see it again on Saturday night all done and polished, I'm going to have a hard time letting go of my memories of how I saw it last week. It was that good two weeks ago that everything seemed to belong, and using real fortune cookies won't be nearly as entertaining as watching the actors mime ripping the heads off of stuffed animals every time they needed to read a fortune.
Mike Delaney, William Hand, and Jeanette Penley all put in great performances... two weeks ago. Assuming they've tightened things up and don't start phoning it in by opening night, you're in for a treat (not a trick... Happy Halloween!).
Toil and Trouble runs November 1 through December 8 in Berkeley
Get more information and/or tickets here.