I spy something … bittersweet

Sunita Param as Noor in <i>Beneath the Moon, Beyond the Stars</i>.

Sunita Param as Noor in Beneath the Moon, Beyond the Stars.

Buck Busfield’s new play—bearing the somewhat unwieldy title Beneath the Moon, Beyond the Stars—is a welcome change of pace for the B Street Theatre, which has relied a bit too heavily on lighthearted shows of late. This one’s a bittersweet story of espionage with a British twist, set against the backdrop of World War II. An attractive young woman, skilled in languages but inexperienced as a spy, is selected for a high-risk mission into Nazi-occupied France. Busfield, as playwright and director, develops the atmosphere of tension that the situation implies. But, more important, he brings out a depth and humanity in his characters that hasn’t been evident in his earlier comedies, as the plot evolves from spy vs. spy into an illuminating tale of personal sacrifice and forgiveness, with spiritual overtones. The cast of eight (including six Equity actors) is also larger than the typical B Street show, giving the production an additional sense of dimension. Julia Brothers is particularly good as a prim, always-in-control intelligence officer who faces an inward emotional struggle as the story unfolds. It’s a smart, well-executed piece with a touching ending, displaying a dramatic side of Busfield as a playwright that we haven’t seen before. Plays 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday; 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday; 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday, at the B Street Theatre, 2711 B St. Through April 22. $9.75-$19.50, (916) 443-5300.