Venue Details

17 Star Starred
Phoenix Theatre San Francisco
414 Mason St. San Francisco, CA 94102
Venue website Get directions
15 events
6 reviews
5 stars
You just enter the building and take the elevator up to the 6th floor. Easy to get to on MUNI and easy to find.
star this tip starred
106 events
92 reviews
11 stars
Drinks can be taken into the theatrical space, and apres the show, there are many options for dining experiences/
star this tip starred
View all 57 tips

Reviews & Ratings

'Master Harold'...and the boys
13 ratings
4.6 average rating
  • 10
  • 2
  • 0
  • 1
  • 0
338 events
14 reviews
27 stars
attended Nov 12 2011

This was our best overall theater experience far this season -- in London, NY or SF! I had seen the original production of this play with James Earl Jones as Sam and this actor's portrayal was equally memorable. We were seated in the first row and...continued

star this review starred report as inappropriate
59 events
34 reviews
21 stars
Beth G.
52 events
27 reviews
40 stars
attended Oct 29 2011

A terrific production of a classic play that rings true today. Powerful, complex acting, great direction and a perfect set that brought us directly to the tea room in South Africa during apartheid. An interesting note is that this play is based ...continued

star this review starred report as inappropriate
View All 11 Reviews
More Information

Quotes & Highlights

“Ridgell rises greatly to the challenges of his character, ably flanked by Rollins-Mullens, and Simpson; he embodies the depth of Sam’s humanity, from his wisdom of experience, to his admiration for beauty, to his capacity to bear and finally to forgive Hally’s need to lash out at him. It is a moving and memorable rendering.” — San Francisco Bay Guardian

What makes this little one-act gem exceptional are the descriptive powers of its playwright and the compassion and respect he has for its characters… This marvelous production by a tiny company with a magnitude of talent will linger in the mind long after one leaves the theatre. —Stark Insider

The trio of actors are magnificently cast… the absolute purity of the actors’ portrayals is astounding.  It’s a treat to be up close and personal in this 50-seat comfortable theater. Kudos to Director Richard Harder for assembling such a finely-tuned ensemble cast. —For All Events


Taking place in South Africa in the 1950’s, the play focuses on the relationship of a young white boy with his father, and with the two black men who have worked in the family business for many years.  While the social and political climate of South Africa made it possible for Hally (the young man) to view himself as more knowledgeable than Sam or Willie (the two black men who have worked for the family), it is Sam who teaches Hally about the harsh realities of the world.  

Although the institution under scrutiny is apartheid, race relationships, familial relationships, and prejudice are as universally prevalent today. Fugard demonstrates how the fractious and disruptive effects of apartheid challenge all notions of traditional relationships and journeys so deep into the psychology of racism that all national boundaries quickly fall away and no one is left unimplicated by his vision.  But we are also left with the exultant hope that we may yet practice compassion without stumbling.

Athol Fugard was born in 1932 in Cape Province, South Africa.  An actor, a director, and a writer, he is the author of A Lesson from Aloes, Boesman & Lena, Sizwe Bansi Is Dead, The Island, and The Bloodknot, among others, with his latest being, The Train Driver.  He also wrote a novel, Tsotsi, and film scripts, The Guest and Marigolds in August.  In his youth, Fugard’s mother operated St. George’s Park Tea Room, and his father, who suffered from depression and physical ailments, was found many times in the saloons in various degrees of drunkenness.  One evening, Sam, who worked at the Tea Room helped the young boy retrieve his father from a drunken stupor.  The incident, along with Sam’s kind treatment of Fugard as an innocent white child in a world that abused its black citizens, became the basis for Fugard’s 1982 play ‘Master Harold’…and the boys.__