Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

San Francisco Playhouse
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Eddie's recent reviews of Second Time Around: A Duet for Cello and Storyteller and Talking Heads, Richard's reviews of The Realistic Joneses, Swimmers, and Mothers and Sons and Patrick's review of Tom Reardon's Both Sides Now: The Songs of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell

Jason Stojanovski and Cast
Photo by Jessica Palopoli
San Francisco Playhouse is presenting Andrew Hinderaker's Colossal, an epic event that merges the worlds of American football and modern dance. While attending the University of Texas, a mentor gave Hinderaker an interesting challenge: write a play so big, so bold, so seemingly impossible that theaters will be intimidated to put it on. The result is Colossal, and San Francisco Playhouse, with director Jon Tracy, choreographer Keith Pinto, and stunt choreographer Dave Maier, does it justice. It truly is colossal, incorporating a football team in full gear doing Keith Pinto's energetic modern dances with fantastic stunts by David Maier. The collaboration results in an exciting 65 minutes of innovative theatre. It's bold theatre and something I have never seen before.

Colossal centers on Mike, a gay athletic (Jason Stojanovski) who suffered a catastrophic spinal injury due to a football accident and is in wheelchair. Prior to entering the University of Texas, his father Damon (Robert Parsons), a modern-dance choreographer, wanted Mike to choose dance over football. Through flashbacks, the play examines Mike's relationship with his father, his gay physical therapist Jerry (Wiley Naman Strasser), his teammates, and his "romance" with fellow football team member Marcus (Cameron Matthews).

Mike is played by two different actors: an exuberant physical Young Mike (Thomas Gorrebeeck) and the present day Mike in a wheelchair. They are often in scenes together when Young Mike tries to prod Mike out of his depression.

Jason Stojanovski, an Australian born film actor based in Los Angeles, strikingly performs the role of disabled Mike. (The playwright has it in the contract that the modern day Mike must be played by a disabled actor). Jason skillfully plays the confusion and anguish of the character and captures his bleakness without asking for pity. In direct contrast, Thomas Gorrebeeck as Young Mike gives a charismatic performance with a striking physique and a captivating smile. Young Mike has optimism in everything he does. Making his first professional performance, Cameron Matthews is terrific as Marcus, Mike's teammate and the object of his affection. He plays the role with an upfront, down to earth attitude. He also has a wonderful clear speaking voice. David Maier as the coach, Wiley Naman Strasser as Jerry the physical therapist, and Robert Parsons as Mike's father Damon are first-rate in their small roles, but the characters are not really fleshed out by the playwright.

Bravo to Xander Ritchey, Brandon Leland, Ed Berkeley, Jacob Hsieh, Brian Conway, and Travis Santell Rowland who play the football players in full gear, strikingly flinging themselves into the football fray, and bravo to the three members of the drum corps, Alex Hersler, Zack Smith and Andrew Humann, who are skilled percussionists.

There's a lot to take in during the 65 stimulating minutes of this show, with scenes played out in four 15 minute quarters on the scoreboard, part of Bill English's wonderful set. There is even a pre-show lasting 10 minutes before the curtain time that features an athletic modern-dance performance by the football players, choreographed by Keith Pinto and set to the percussion music of the three drummers.

Colossal runs through April 30th, 2016, at San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post Street, Second Floor, San Francisco Tickets can be obtain by calling 415-677-9596 or on line at Coming up next will be Lolita Chakrabarti's Red Velvet opening May 10 and running through June 25th followed by the Cy Coleman/David Zippel musical City of Angels opening July 5 and running through September 17th.