You always hurt the one you love, but Subterranean Shakespeare swears up and down that it ain’t mistreating the immortal bard, just having a little fun with him. (“That’s right, honey,” William Shakespeare says. “I fell down the stairs. I’m so clumsy.”) In the interest of getting kids today off the streets and into Shakespeare, Sub Shakes has assembled an all-star lineup of local theater and music vets to set old Father William’s words to music, make up new songs inspired by his plays, or what they will at a benefit performance dubbed Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits on Monday at Berkeley’s Unitarian Fellowship. House band the Rude Mechanicals (what else?) promise a mix of rock, folk, um … pop folk rock, and heavy metal, along with the proverbial much, much more. The Elizabethan smash hit “Go from My Window” is given the quirky electronic treatment by one-woman band Salane and Friends, and Punk Rock Orchestra singer Cynthia Weyuker gives us “Tomorrow Is Valentine’s Day.” Performance artist and Church of the SubGenius coconspirator Michael Peppe is composing a song based on the 129th Sonnet (Th’ expense of spirit in a waste of shame/Is lust in action), and Maestro Curtis will give some improv jazz piano accompaniment to Chetana Karel’s reading of the nuptial favorite Sonnet 116 (Let me not to the marriage of true minds/Admit impediments … ).
G.P. Skratz, Ed Holmes, Hal Hughes, and Andy Dinsmoor are performing what purports to be a 19th-century German translation of the “Double, double toil and trouble” witches’ chant from Macbeth, though there are such notorious merry pranksters in the mix (from the Serfs and St. Stupid’s First Church of the Last Laugh) that one might take a grain of salt with that eye of newt. Blake Street Hawkeyes cofounder Bob Ernst takes on King Lear’s “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks” speech with blues harp, and Shakespeare Lab cofounder Matthew Perifano and Joshua Raoul Brody blow thou winter wind as you like it. Brody, a founding member of Those Darn Accordions and omnipresent collaborator with everyone from Josh Kornbluth to the Residents to Duck’s Breath Mystery Theatre, will also be doing an “improvised Shakespeare song” with his band Tonal Chaos. It seems that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy.
Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits rocks the Unitarian Fellowship, 1924 Cedar Street in Berkeley, at 8 p.m. Monday, May 9. 510-276-3871. – Sam Hurwitt
Trock or treat at Z’bach
They may look like one of Tom DeLay’s nightmares, but Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo are more than just a drag burlesque act in tutus. The New York-based all-male ballet troupe has toured more than five hundred cities worldwide since 1975, performing sendups of Swan Lake and other ballets danced by “ballerinas” named Colette Adae and Ida Nevasayneva — but high professionalism and skill mark the “Trocks” and their repertoire. They alight in UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall Thursday (7 p.m.) for three shows in three nights. Info: Trockadero.org or CalPerfs.Berkeley.edu – Kelly Vance
A svelte private eye dukes it out with a blustering, unpolished villain — “the second most dangerous man in Europe” — in Bullshot Crummond , Town Hall Theatre’s satire of whodunits of the 1930s. Played by Joel Roster, the title character is a British World War I veteran-turned-gumshoe intent on saving the dishy (in the 1930s sense of the word) Miss Rosemary Fenton (Sarah Andrews Reynolds) from the claws of evil Count Von Brunno (Randy Anger). Just imagine Prairie Home Companion‘s Guy Noir taking on Dr. Evil of the Austin Powers flicks, with lots of Monty-Python-inspired gladiator stunts and cars making B-movie U-turns. Through May 22 at Town Hall (3535 School St., Lafayette). Info: THTC.org or 925-283-1557. — Rachel Swan
The Devil Is an Ass is not one of 17th-century playwright Ben Jonson’s best known plays — like many of his works, it dealt comically with the archaic “humours” theory of personality (phlegmatic, choleric, etc.), here extended to Satan’s meddling in humans’ affairs — but that doesn’t stop the Rough and Tumble company (founded 1994) from trying it on for size in the 21st century. Saturday evening (7:30) at Temescal Arts Center, 511 48th St., Oakland, Rough and Tumble presents a script-in-hand performance of the 1616 satire. Admission is free, but donations are gladly accepted. For more info, call 510-601-1444. — Kelly Vance