How to Write a New Book for the Bible

When: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, 8 p.m., Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m., Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. and Wednesdays, 7 p.m. Continues through Nov. 20 2011

People cried audibly during the press opening for Bill Cain's How to Write a New Book for the Bible, now enjoying its world premiere at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Directed by Kent Nicholson, the play is compelling for many reasons, not least of which is Cain's involvement with the subject matter ��‚��€� it is, in essence, a nakedly personal account of his experience watching his mother die. Some of its power derives from interstitial elements, like an Ella Fitzgerald recording of "It's Only a Paper Moon," which plays twice during the production; or the religiosity embedded in Cain's language; or Scott Bradley's floating set pieces, which make it seem as if the lead characters are floundering between worlds. Best of all, though, is the acting. Linda Gehringer balances end-of-life wisecrackery with darkly emotional moments in her role as the dying Mary Cain. Likewise, Tyler Pierce manages to be wrenching, but plainspoken, as the writer Bill Cain. He's a profoundly affecting character, even when filtering his story through Biblical metaphors. Through Nov. 20 at Berkeley Rep's Thrust Stage (2025 Addison St., Berkeley). $14.50-$73. 510-647-2949 or

Rachel Swan

Price: $14.50-$73

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