• Mar 9, 2017 - Apr 2, 2017
Regular Show



By Jiehae Park
Directed by Margot Bordelon

Twin sisters “M” and “L” care about two things in this world: academic ambition, and each other. But when M’s supposed shoo-in slot at a prestigious university is given to someone else, the sisters begin to strategize how to secure their success by any means necessary. Taking a page from a certain Scottish tragedy, the sisters' sinister scheming leads to bloody extracurricular activities that could take them to the top. Jiehae Park’s new dark comedy is a savage satire on academia, teenagers and race, and made The Kilroys’ 2015 List of the best new plays by female playwrights. 

Fresh off a critically acclaimed World Premiere production at Yale Repertory in the  15-16 season, MTC is excited to bring this sinister twist on the Scottish Play to the West Coast under the direction of Margot Bordelon, who also directed the play’s world premiere. Another of Park’s plays, Hannah and the Dread Gazebo, won the Princess Grace Award, the Leah Ryan Prize, and landed on the first annual Kilroys List, and will receive its world premiere in March 2017 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Dave Maier

Dave Maier

Fight Director

Cameron Matthews

Cameron Matthews

Robert Hemings/Hugo

Heather Basarab

Heather Basarab

Lighting Designer

​Sean McStravick*

​Sean McStravick*

stage manager

​Lizabeth Stanley

​Lizabeth Stanley

prop master

Rinabeth Apostol*

Rinabeth Apostol*


Jeremy Kahn*

Jeremy Kahn*


Tiffany Villarin*

Tiffany Villarin*


Jiehae Park

Jiehae Park


Margot Bordelon

Margot Bordelon


Kate Noll

Kate Noll

Scenic Designer

Palmer Hefferan+

Palmer Hefferan+

Composer/Sound Designer

Rosie Hallett*

Rosie Hallett*

Joan of Arc

Video Gallery

Eddy Reynolds, Theatre Eddy’s

“First-class, must-see entertainment” — Theatre Eddy

L & M: Identical twins.  The prettiest and smartest girls in their Midwestern high school.  Of Asian descent.  Perfect SAT scores.  Perfect grades.  Each stellar in all respects.  Each a prime ... no, each THE prime candidate for the historically one early decision spot that “The College” (you know, the back East, Ivy League type with ivy, columns, brick and dripping with prestige) awards each year to their high school.  And, a sister- sworn oath for L to hold back a year so M gets this year’s spot; and L, next year’s.

That is until “the fat envelope” of acceptance from “The College” drops from the sky into the hands of D, the nicest but dorkiest guy in the class who just happens to be (gasp, how could he be?) one-sixteenth Native American ... somehow out-stripping their 100% Asian-American (and female) pedigree.  

But that is all until the crazy, smelly (but clearly prophetic) Dirty Girl says point-blankly to M that while she did not yet get into this year’s slot, “You will ... and your little dog, too.”

Thus sets up a high-school comedy hyper-hip in its back-and-forth banter, its text-quick pace, and its locker-planned pacts and plots – a comedy, that is, until it is not. 

In writing peerless, Jiehae Park has loosely structured her characters and progression of events based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth.  However, the more twists and turns that the story takes as the twins seek to thwart anyone else getting that one crowning seat on the admission list , the more the similarities become less “loose” and instead become “tightly coupled” to the original story of Macbeth and his Lady (Hint: “M” and “L”).  Marin Theatre presents the West Coast premiere of Jiehae Park’s peerless in a brilliantly conceived, directed, and acted production that moves at whirlwind speeds through events that move audience from leaning back in their seats in full laughter to moving to the edge of their seats in tight-mouthed, tense anticipation of what will happen next.

Rinabeth Apostol (“L”) and Tiffany Villarin (“M”) are nothing short of astounding as they rattle off often at breakneck speeds sisterly conversations where each picks up the past two-to-five words and continues the thought, changes the subject, or inserts a surprise – only to be quickly usurped by the immediate retort of her identical half.  And mirror images they are in their preppy outfits and hair-dos with the exception that L always dons or carries something yellow, and M, something red.  

L (think Lady Macbeth) is the scheming plotter and relentless pusher who wants to ensure that the more reticent M increases her own drive and boldness (sound familiar to wanna-be king you know?) as M more and more believes the prophetic signs she is seeing that it is inevitable the one admissions spot is hers/theirs.   The sisters never lose a minute of the play’s fast eighty to become ever more determined to outsmart, undermine, and overcome anyone (everyone) who gets in their way to ultimate success.  The two actors are shockingly good as they employ their entire beings in their initial frenzy and fury, their later posturing and plotting, and their eventual dives into final diabolism to secure admission.  The Bard would be so proud.

Just as the Weird Sisters get a reluctant, unbelieving Macbeth started down a no-exit path to fulfill at any cost his ever-gnawing ambition, Dirty Girl does the same for M.  Rosie Hallett is that kid in school everyone knows but never talks to – the one in dreadlocks, all black clothes with lots of holes, over-sized boots, and gross smells from not having bathed in weeks.  She suddenly appears from nowhere, moves more on all-fours than upright, and tends to scream nonsensical sounds between her growls and grunts.  (Remember her from high school now?)  Each time she shows up, she seems to offer enough evidence of what is to come (e.g., how did she know M’s statistics test score before M did?), leading M with wide-eyes to tell L, “There’s something she knows.”  Rosie Hallett gleams from her darkened eyes a knowledge that hints at evil doings and spits with a venom her next prediction, all the while grinning a smile that could easily send shudders down most coeds’ necks – but no longer down M’s.  Dirty Girl is now her go-to, hallway seer.

Into the sister’s road to The College lands a possible roadblock named D -- the nicest, most innocent, most trusting guy ever who is nothing if he is not also the most gawky, embarrassingly loud, and goofiest dresser in the school.  This otherwise average student just happens also to be one of thirteen left in his Native American tribe – and the other twelve are senior citizens.  And recall that D has already been the one picked to go to The College. 

Jeremy Kahn pretty much steals the show in his spot-on portrayal of the baggy pants, aw-shucks D (for those Shakespeare buffs, the King Duncan of the cast), who can hardly shut up telling the twins how excited he is that he and his cystic-fibrosis-suffering brother (also played by Mr. Kahn) get to be their dates at the Hoopcoming dance.  As he nervously shifts the weight of his tall body with his long arms continually gyrating through the air while enthusiasm exudes his every pore, there is little he does not reveal to the sisters.  Without hesitation, he literally shouts with glee to the now-listening sibs about his fatal allergy to tree nuts and the EpiPen he always wears around his neck, ready to plunge its medicine quickly into his thigh if a walnut touches his lips.  Maybe he should have listened to his mother who told him not to talk so much.

Rounding out this excellent cast is Cameron Matthews who is the studly, All-American (and also African-American) BF – ‘BF’ being his name and his boyfriend relationship to M.  He too is vying for that one cherished spot at “The College,” unbeknownst to his girl M.  As his prototype-of-sorts Banquo could tell him (if he were still alive), he might better think twice and just keep eating the candy bars he is always munching and forget “The College” – as well as his GF, M.

The lightning speed of much of the dialogue and the sudden turns in events is enhanced by Kate Noll’s set design that sees scenes quickly come and go behind three, garage-size doors.  The three inserts are like frames of a cartoon script.  That feeling of a bizarre set of funnies is further enhanced by the high in bright color and wild in shape and style costumes that often are donned by the characters (especially the twins), all designed by Sydney Gallas.  (The twins in their prom dresses of bright blue that reach only to their knees but are a half-room in diameter, given all the petticoats under them, are such one example of the designer’s tongue-in-cheek approach.)

Much of the looming mystery and portend of bad things to come is accentuated by the inspired lighting design of Heather Basarab, whose projected shadows often take on a life unto themselves in telling the story to come based on the action now occurring.  Palmer Hefferan’s original, musical compositions provide a familiar teenage pulse that also has a cutting-edge harshness to arouse suspicion that all is not as it seems in these high school hallways.  His sound design provides elements of increasing creepiness that fit the storyline perfectly.  All production elements and cast members are directed by Margo Bordelon with a timing that is split-second and a bent toward the uncanny.

In so many respects, Jiehae Park’s peerless in fact has no peers among current, live theatre offerings – especially in the imaginative, inventive, and highly invigorating manner presented by Marin Theatre where the boundaries between comedy and tragedy are so vague for it to be a real mystery as to how to label the play.  No matter because how I label peerless is as first-class, must-see entertainment.

Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle

MTC’s macabre comedy ‘peerless’ is just that

You might think you’ve seen a breakneck pace in theater before. But the clip at which Jiehae Park’s “peerless” sprinted into its Tuesday, March 14, opening at Marin Theatre Company should make you rethink the very concept of speed on stage.

Part of the thrill of the opening exchanges between high school student twin sisters M (Tiffany Villarin) and L (Rinabeth Apostol) is their sheer athleticism. Wearing adorable matching outfits by costume designer Sydney Gallas, the performers, in collaboration with director Margot Bordelon, make a ballet out of overlapping whirlwind dialogue, interrupted suddenly, periodically, by an emphatic pause — but one that lasts only a half-breath.

The astonishing momentum of this West Coast premiere isn’t just spectacle. It adroitly encapsulates, as few contemporary plays have dared to, the extraordinary pressures on elite students in elite high schools seeking scarce spots in elite universities. Tempting as it is to write off college application woes as divertissement for the bourgeoisie, the process as a whole manifests all too starkly a peculiarly American sickness — one that has already plagued Bay Area high schools, notably in the South Bay, where a teen suicide epidemic rampages

The world of “peerless” is one in which college admissions envelopes rocket out of the heavens like meteors and land onstage with a great, violent thwack. It’s a world where one might restructure one’s whole life, moving to a particular state (to enhance one’s “geographic diversity,” in the play’s sad but pragmatic parlance), attending a particular high school, participating in particular extracurricular activities, all in effort to game a pernicious system, one that somehow we’ve all agreed to accept.

Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and the story of June and Jennifer Gibbons, Britain’s “silent twins,” inspired Park’s writing, but she transforms those dark sources into zippy comedy (with plenty of Scottish Play references for theater insiders to feast on). As M, the sister who occasionally feels a pang of conscience, Villarin has a default look of eyes stretched so wide you can almost see eyeball veins you’re not supposed to see. This is a student, her performance conveys, so accustomed to prying her eyelids open to cram for AP exams that when her ambition escapes her for a moment, she’s no more than a deer in the headlights. As the more barbarous L, Apostol savors her bloodthirsty lines; it’s as if, in merely speaking, she’s already devouring her planned victim.

That victim is D, performed with showstopping flair by Jeremy Kahn. Even if Kahn weren’t in the show, “peerless” would still be much-needed catharsis for any parents and students afflicted by the college admissions process; Kahn’s performance elevates the play higher still. He makes D so overwhelmingly geeky that you worry the character’s aura will somehow come out into the audience and accidentally hurt you. He might whack you with his “fat hands” during an especially maladroit dance move at the school’s “Hoopcoming” dance or stab you with the EpiPen he carries around his neck. And each time you think D has reached his feverish peak, Kahn charts a new comedic height.

If the show has any flaw, it’s that D’s scenes come midway through the play, and they’re impossible to top. Yet in its downtempo denouement, “peerless” makes its most sobering point. Scholar Jan Kott once wrote that “Macbeth” is driven by a false dream, “of a murder that will break the murder cycle, will be the way out of nightmare, and will mean liberation.” Part of the point of “peerless” is that even if you get into your top college, the rat race doesn’t stop there; one race bloodily won breeds only further races to run.

Marin IJ

“★★★★ Devilishly funny … perversely enjoyable” 


“MTC’s best play of the season … a must-see for anyone who loves theater”

Sam Hurwitt, Marin IJ

Sisters would kill to get into college of choice in MTC’s ‘Peerless’

They say a strong foundation in the classics is important for getting ahead in school, but this probably wasn’t what they had in mind. In “Peerless,” the new play by Jiehae Park making its Bay Area premiere at Marin Theatre Company, ambitious twin sisters M and L respond to an academic disappointment (one of them being passed over by a prominent university) by going full “Macbeth.” 

In a fast-paced, intermission-free 85-minute staging by Margot Bordelon, who also directed the show’s 2015 world premiere at Yale Repertory Theatre, the dark comedy isn’t quite an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Scottish Play,” but it plays with parallels a great deal. 

The twins have arranged their whole lives to get into the college of their choice, simply called The College. They moved to the Midwest and enrolled in different years just to maximize their chance of getting the one early-admission slot available to any one high school. When that slot goes to someone else instead, the sisters start thinking about how to eliminate the competition. 

Most of the characters are referred to by generic descriptors rather than names, such as “the boyfriend” or “the brother.” The town and the high school are never named —even the athletic gear in Sydney Gallas’ costumes just says “high school track team.” 

The sisters speak quickly, talking over each other and finishing each other’s sentences. Reprising the role she originated in the Yale Rep production, Tiffany Villarin is hysterically anxious and high-strung as M, the one who’s first in line. But it’s Rinabeth Apostol’s L, who at first seems like a deferential (if talkative) subordinate, who soon becomes the more cold-blooded conniver of the two, because she doesn’t want M to blow it for the both of them. As she says repeatedly, “You and then me. That’s what it’s always been.”

Jeremy Kahn is endearingly awkward and wonderfully funny as the guy who actually got the coveted early acceptance, rattling on incessantly about how elated he is to finally be over his low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts. He’s the main thing that stands in the sisters’ way, but it’s hard not to like the guy. 
Cameron Matthews has an amiable, easygoing swagger as M’s erstwhile boyfriend, who plays only a small role in the story. Rosie Hallett aggressively tries to shock her peers as Dirty Girl, who has a reputation as the school crazy person but also spouts what sounds a lot like prophecy at M like a one-woman Weird Sisters. (She’s also pretty much the only character with a name — Caroline — although it’s seldom used.) 

The panels of Kate Noll’s intriguingly plain white-walled set slide aside to reveal a multitude of classrooms and other locations. Palmer Hefferan’s sound design gradually becomes nightmarish with haunting rat noises and other unnerving sounds, abetted by Heather Basarab’s dramatic lighting.

It’s easy to see parallels in the initials characters are given in lieu of names: M for Macbeth, L for Lady Macbeth, D for Duncan, BF for Banquo and Fleance (or maybe just for boyfriend). There are also many echoes of Shakespeare’s tragedy in the fast-paced dialogue, mostly a conspicuous key word here and there. 

Still, the “Macbeth” parallels only go so far. In tone and spirit, there’s almost as much “Heathers” in the play as there is Shakespeare. The relationship between the twins is at the heart of this piece, and that takes the story in a different direction than its source material. There are some scenes and moments that don’t entirely click, including the ending, and plot developments that seem rushed. Overall, however, it’s a devilishly funny piece of work that somehow makes even its most gruesome moments perversely

San Francisco Chronicle

“WILD APPLAUSE! Impossible to top”

Woody Weingarten, –Marinscope

‘peerless’ comically probes schoolgirl obsession

“peerless” is a lower-case title but higher-hilarity and even-higher-energy play that must be a must-see for anyone who loves theater.

Especially innovative theater.

Like me.

“peerless” is a mostly comic but occasionally sinister re-imagining of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” by Jiehae Park that finds cut-throat twin sisters, “M” and “L,” obsessing to be admitted to “The college” by any means — including seduction and a murder spree.

So they employ a fire, an explosion and a nut that’s a fatal allergen.

For starters.

Before they become desperate — after M’s early-admission slot is handed to a guy because he’s one-sixteenth Native American — they’ve excelled in classes, sports and extracurricular activities, even moved to the Midwest for a “geographic diversity” boost, and lean on the fact that they’re Asian and female and, thus, constitute a “double minority.”

When all that’s not enough, well, homicide seems the only logical course.

“peerless” — which the script says is a comedy “until it’s not” — is, in my eyes, a marvelously pungent riff on academia, teens and race, tied securely into one satirical bundle.

But it’s actually tough for me to write about.

Although my cerebral annotations can flow easily enough, the joy the play evokes is vastly more difficult to describe — especially when I want to draw word pictures of the carefully choreographed vigorous teenage dancing and singing, chattering that resembles a magpie symphony, and the kind of post-pubescent awkwardness I remember all too well from my youth.

Wide-eyes and frowns also help create mental imagery that can make the over-the-top Marin Theatre Company outing almost believable.

Margot Bordelon, who helmed the play’s world premiere by the Yale Repertory Theatre in 2015, when its title inexplicably still had a capital “P,” directs the 82-minute, intermissionless show. Her bullet train steering is so adroit and consistent that when the play bogs down for a few minutes two-thirds of the way in, it appears to me as a relief rather than a problem.

The rest of the time, she conducts dialogue — particularly the relentless staccato of the psyched up sisters — as if she were leading two dueling rock drummers.

And Bordelon joins with Park to make the witchy, crazy teenage character Dirty Girl, an amalgamation of the Bard’s three weird sisters, incredibly compelling (in a totally modern way).

Rinabeth Apostol and Tiffany Villarin (as “L” and “M,” respectively), Jeremy Kahn as “D” (as well as his disabled brother), Rosie Hallett (as Dirty Girl and, later, as Preppy Girl), and Cameron Matthews (as BF — a boyfriend of color) are all superb performers.

They’re aided by wondrous costumes designed by Sydney Gallas that the intentionally stark lighting of Heather Basarab shows off well.

Add in the even more wondrous tri-paneled set of blank mini-stages that allow the characters to become moving Instagrams and it’s impossible to keep me from gushing.

Occasionally, particularly when the girls switch hair flowers or swap one’s yellow backpack for the other’s red one, I’d momentarily forget which sister is which. Subsequent words and actions inevitably — and quickly — un-confuse me.

The playwright, a Korean-born woman who now lives in New York City, likes to flaunt her whistling and tournament poker dealing skills as well as her writing chops. It’s noteworthy, though, that “Hannah and the Dread Gazebo,” her latest play, opens this month at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.

Park not only based “peerless” on the classic Shakespearian tragedy but on the fascinating true-life tale of the Silent Twins, two black girls who’d been incessantly bullied in England.

In doing so, she wrote what I easily consider the MTC’s best play of the season.

Although I heard no “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!” or “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble,” and truly believe Shakespeare might not recognize the echoes of his so-called “Scottish play” in Jiehae Park’s theatrical trampoline, I do suspect he’d appreciate its genuine, intrinsic value.

And rest peacefully in his grave.

Perhaps even smiling.