‘JACK GOES BOATING’ at Aurora Theatre


I had a chance to see Aurora’s final show of the season, Bob Glaudini’s Jack Goes Boating, during opening week. But BART screwed me, and I arrived at the theater about 15 minutes late. No way was I going to do late seating, especially considering that Aurora doesn’t do late seating.

About two weeks later, I headed over again, this time in a car. (Screw BART!) And there was a huge accident on the Bay Bridge. After 30 minutes of creeping to the last SF exit, we raced to the nearest BART station (sorry BART!) only to find that, due to service cuts, we’d have to wait and then transfer and then we’d arrive at the theater about 15 minutes late. (Screw BART again!)

This Saturday, I got tickets for a third time, for the matinee. We drove. Left at 12:30 for a 2:00 show. On a day when no one worked. Got to the theater an hour before the show. And finally saw the thing.

Some shows are worth the wait.

I’d read the script when it was in American Theatre after the highly-popular and highly-publicized New York production by LAByrinth Theater Company starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, and I’d really been taken by it. In fact, about three months after reading it, I was fiddling around with some characters that I’ve created and still haven’t found a play for, and as I sketched out a possible story for them, I realized I was unconsciously writing a story arc that was way too influenced by Glaudini’s. So it clearly got under my skin.

It’s a terrific script, but this production is even more of a must-see because the cast is so damn good. I’ve worked with Gabriel Marin and think he’s a goddamn genius. I’ve seen Danny Wolohan and loved his timing and complete commitment to a character. And I’d heard tell of Beth Wilmurt and Amanda Duarte but hadn’t yet had the pleasure. (I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence; apparently the writers of The Beverly Hillbillies have also got under my skin.)

jbHonestly, this is one of those casts where everything they do is brilliant and magical. The chemistry is perfect, and the characterizations are spot-on. They could make a horrible script into something worth seeing, and this is a wonderfully charming and funny and yet earnest script.

And, you know, I never say enough about the directors and the designers (mainly because I go into shows as a playwright and tend to really analyze the story arc, the characters, and the dialogue; yet another reason why I stress I’m not a critic) but their work is awesome, as well. Scene transitions are tight and clever; the set is great and surprising; the sound design is important and brilliantly done. So kudos to Joy Carlin, Melpomene Katakalos, and Chris Houston, and forgive me for probably forgetting to mention you in the future.

So: this show’s been a complete hit, well-reviewed even by the critics you might kind of think would be predisposed to bashing it, and it’s been extended for one more week. I hope there’s room for you because this a killer cast and a lovely play that should not be missed. Just be sure to leave early enough that you’ll actually get there.

Jack Goes Boating by Bob Glaudini at Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison St., Berkeley, EXTENDED through Jul 19. Tickets at auroratheatre.org.