Town Crier: Berkeley Rep production provocative experience

MONTCLARION: September 25, 2009

GOOD THEATER has a tendency to tweak your comfort level. I knew that going into “American Idiot” at the Berkeley Rep, but the temptation was too strong to resist. Here was an album of angry punk rock set to a story line — and delivered, untested, on stage. All I knew was that Green Day was local and I actually liked a couple of their crossover hits, like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”

But despite the fact that I didn’t fit the audience demographic, I completely bought into the angst and idealism that exploded on stage. It was a 95-minute firestorm of rage and redemption, told through the poignant words of 13 songs written when the country was bitterly divided over a war and a presidency.

There are some shocking scenes, to be sure. I would think twice before bringing your kids — as the drug scenes can be graphic and disturbing. But the production is both dark and enlightening — and the message makes you think about the hope and despair of our youth in a volatile political climate. “American Idiot” runs through Nov. 1. For tickets, see http://berkeley

Dynamic duo: Two Wills rocked the house at College Prep in Oakland Tuesday night. “Dah Mayor” Willy Brown and his radio sidekick, comedian Will Durst, gave the crowd at the CPS speaker’s series, Livetalk, a sidesplitting slice of political humor. The audience got “the willies” and CPS got a nice chunk of

change, since the pair didn’t charge for their appearance. Next up is veteran journalist Robert Sheer, who comes to the Livetalk series Oct. 16. For tickets, see Tuesdays: When the state gives you lemons, open a produce stand. The parents at Oakland’s Glenview Elementary are raising much-needed money with their own farmers market on Tuesday afternoons from 2-4. Launched last week, the PTA-sponsored event offers parents and students a selection of mostly organic, locally-grown fruits and vegetables. Farmer Joe’s market has even donated money for a greenhouse, so the kids can start growing their own goodies.

E-mail bag: Money is on the mind of reader Herb Cockcroft, who says he recently decided to investigate every dollar he was dinged on his tax bill. A lot of the taxes, like AC Transit Measure BB, are for maintaining service levels. “Well, if they’re now reducing service levels, should we not get something back from this tax, which I was told is to continue until 2015?” he asks. Ditto with taxes for library expansion, police recruitment and landscaping and lighting. Where is all the money going? Is it being spent wisely, he wonders?

Animal tales: I love the way animals come out to play after dark. In the light of the moon, the other night, a ring-tailed raccoon took a dip in the azure waters of my local swim club. Never mind the chlorine, he drank to his fill and then waddled up the stairs and onto the deck, shaking the drops off his glistening fur.


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