Theater & Performing Arts

Anton in Show Business

When: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Sept. 26 2010

In Anton in Show Business, now playing at Oakland's TheatreFIRST, three actresses from three different worlds are hired for a production of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters. Holly (Josie Alvarez) is a television diva trying to lard her résumé with skin flicks. Casey Mulgraw (Beth Deitchman) is a jaded member of the Off-Off crowd. Lisabette (Megan Briggs) is a sweet ingenue from Podunk, Texas, where this ill-fated Three Sisters will take place. Anton is about the means to the end, so we get to see three actresses placed in the equivalent of a Petri dish and forced to interact. As spoof, it works, even though the script is corny -- especially in the more earnest moments when Holly, Casey, and Lisabette reflect on their shared predicament. That said, there's still a lot to like about this Anton. Deitchman, who is probably the most experienced talent in the bunch, plays a believable Mulgraw against Briggs' slouchy Lisabette. The tension between them is grist for humor, particularly in a dialogue about past sexual exploits. That almost compensates for awkwardness at the beginning, when they're forced to audition for an uppity director (Phoebe Moyer) who subjects his actresses to improv games, among other humiliations. Anton in Show Business runs through September 26 at the Marion E. Greene Black Box Theatre (531 19th St., Oakland). $15-$30.

Rachel Swan

Price: $15-$30

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