Don Reed's The Kipling Hotel: True Misadventures of the Electric Pink 80s

When: Saturdays, 8:30 p.m. and Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Dec. 16 2012

To watch Don Reed's 2009 one-man show, East 14th: Tales of a Reluctant Player, was to fall in love with his style. He displayed an uncanny knack for chopping a four-year period out of his autobiography, shaping it into a perfect narrative arc, conveying the story through a repertory of character impersonations, and squeezing a moral from the end. And Reed managed to accomplish all that without resorting to platitudes (not until the end, at least) or sacrificing any humor. His new show, The Kipling Hotel, is about serving brunch to senior citizens as a part-time job while studying speech and debate at UCLA. Reed uses his endlessly elastic body to morph easily from character to character -- he even throws in an over-the-top E.T. impression -- while providing a vivid account of what it was like to be an African-American college student who'd come up from the inner-city. The historical backdrop -- Los Angeles during the era of Reaganomics, crack cocaine included -- heavily informs Reed's story, though he manages to find humor in even the most unfair and painful circumstances. Through March 25 at The Marsh Berkeley (2120 Allston Way, Berkeley). $20-$35. 510-704-8291 or TheMarsh.org

Rachel Swan

Price: $15-$50

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