Theater Review: BORDER PEOPLE (The Marsh San Francisco)

Post image for Theater Review: BORDER PEOPLE (The Marsh San Francisco)

by Tony Frankel on October 8, 2019

in Theater-San Francisco / Bay Area


What do a Latino cop, a black vet in the Bronx, a Saudi Arabian without a country, a gay pagan goat rancher, and a homeless HIV-positive man have in common? Dan Hoyle. SF’s own master storyteller is back with a new show, Border People, one he has crafted from a series of conversations and interviews from around the country after Trump’s election. As an L.A. native who has lived with diversity and traveled the Southwest, I must say that Hoyle succeeds in presenting with astounding mimicry and startling accuracy people who I swear that I have encountered in my own life. That’s a gift.

Hoyle is an amazing actor who changes his 11 characters even without the change of a hat. Whether moving around the stage like he’s doing an obstacle course or sitting still letting his voice paint a physical picture, his gift for impersonation is so remarkable that we can even the see the color, wrinkles, and muscles of those he interviewed, even though Hoyle dons only jeans and a T-shirt. With his sharp, chameleonic acting skills and unpretentious portrayals, Mr. Hoyle is easily one of the best solo artists working in the theater today.

Developed with and directed by longtime collaborator Charlie Varon, Hoyle creates political theater by displaying the views of Americans and American citizen wannabes. What he achieves without preaching is not only a snapshot of modern issues such as the military, immigration, and transgender folk, but also what it means to live with borders of any kind, be they geographical or psychological. It’s an examination of the universal truths behind these well-drawn characters — whether that be fear, rejection or uncertainty. Hoyle never ceases to amaze, and in 75 minutes he manages to be both entertaining and profound.

It’s definitely hit a nerve, too: playing since January 25, the show looks poised to hit a one-year anniversary mark soon, given all of the extensions. If only the nightly news were like this.

photos by Peter Prato

Border People
The Marsh San Francisco
1062 Valencia St. in San Francisco
Thurs and Fri at 8; Sat at 5
ends on April 27, 2019 EXTENDED to January 18, 2020
for tickets, call 415.282.3055 (M-F 1-4) or visit The Marsh

Leave a Comment