Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

The Rules
San Francisco Playhouse
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's reviews of Oreo Carrot Danger: A Play of Rituals, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and Heartthrobs: Biggest Boy Band Ever

Johnny Moreno
Photo by Ken Levin
The San Francisco Playhouse Sandbox Series features three brand new plays during the year. The company is currently presenting the thought-provoking The Rules by Dipika Guha. This is a four-character study about rules of dating interactions and how three women are trying to find Mr. Right through modern technology. It also explores and asks questions about women's friendships in this modern world. Dipika Guha has written a fascinating drama. Her dialogue includes cleverness ranging from suggestive subtlety to bold and amusing wordplay.

Amy (Sarah Moser), a children's music teacher, Julia (Karen Offereins), a super-achieving super-professional, and Mehr (Amy Lizardo), an under-achiever, all meet the same man separately—the mysterious Valmont (Jonny Moreno). The theme is Les Liaisons Dangereuses in modern dress with a lot of texting. You might even call him Lucifer since his phone number is "666". He speaks all of his lines in a slanted, monosyllabic voice. Further into this 90-minute, no-intermission production, Valmont finds the weaknesses of two of the women and they find themselves in circumstances that lead to him seducing them.

Susannah Martin has assembled four remarkable actors and they each give convincing performances. Sarah Moser gives a beautiful performance as Amy, especially when she meets Valmont for the first time. She plays the character as very demure. Karen Offereins gives a pitch perfect performance as Julia, while Amy Lizardo gives an engaging performance as underachiever Mehr. Johnny Moreno is outstanding as Valmont. He gives an authentic portrayal of a modern day Don Juan as he tells, through poetical lines, how he is unable to control himself when around women.

The set by Angrette McCloskey carries out the theme of the play with four sliver bars on the back wall decorated with groups of dresses and jackets that 40-ish women might wear. Costume designer Ashley Holvick has given the characters chic costumes to wear, especially Johnny Moreno's three-piece suit that includes a floral vest.

The production is well worth the price of admission with terrific acting, splendid storytelling, clever dialogue, and excellent direction by Susanna Martin.

The San Francisco Playhouse The Rules runs through July 16th, 2016, at The Creativity Theatre, 221 Fourth Street, in Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco. Tickets can be obtained by calling 415-677-9596 or visiting Coming up next on the main stage at 470 Post Street is Cy Coleman, David Zippel, and Larry Gelbart's City of Angels beginning July 6 and running through September 17th.