Inconvenient Truths

Ryun Yu in “Hold These Truths” at the San Diego Repertory Theatre.

In 1942, Gordon Hirabayashi, an American of Japanese heritage, stood on principle and defied a U.S. government order to “sign up” for a wartime internment camp. His case would go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Hirabayashi’s remarkable story comes to life in the San Diego Repertory Theatre’s staging of Jeanne Sakata’s “Hold These Truths.” The one-person show stars Ryun Yu, who, during the course of 90 minutes, portrays Hirabayashi throughout the years of his fight against racial discrimination and for justice. Yu also plays others who factored in: his friends, his family, his prosecutors, his legal team. Yu’s is an affecting, dignified performance that transcends “legal case.” The marginalization, mistreatment and even imprisonment of men, women and children because of their race and color is tragically not a thing of the past.

Jessica Kubzansky directs “Hold These Truths” at the Rep, where well-timed sound effects (designed by John Zalewski) foster the illusion that Yu is not alone and that history, of a shameful kind, is unfolding around him.

“Hold These Truths” runs through December 8 at the San Diego Repertory Theatre, Downtown. $25-$72;

Given the signature David Mamet profanity exercised in “American Buffalo,” it might seem incongruous to be enamored of the script’s musicality. Yet there’s no better way to interpret the harsh but brilliantly rhythmic quality of the 1975 drama’s dialogue. Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company’s production of “American Buffalo” articulates this quality to a tee, owing to a smart director (Rosina Reynolds) and two actors (Richard Baird and Francis Gercke) who clearly intuit the incendiary tone but also the rat-a-tat vibrations of Mamet’s play.

The tale of a Chicago junk-shop owner (Gercke), his brutally neurotic crony (Baird) and a wrongheaded plan to burgle a house and supposedly turn a con back on a con artist quickly becomes convoluted. But it’s so much fun watching and listening to the actors fret and f-word their way through the proceedings that the quest for a rare and (maybe) expensive coin matters little. What a delicious theatrical departure for the holidays.

“American Buffalo” runs through December 7 at the Tenth Avenue Arts Center, Downtown. $18-$25.