Sometimes, really strong performances make up for a weak play. That's exactly what happens with Celebration Arts' production of Levee James, by playwright S.M. Shephard-Massat. The two main actors—Alexandra Barthel (seen locally onstage at Folsom's Falcon's Eye Theatre and Capital Stage) and James R. Ellison III (Celebration Arts)—elevate a muddled storyline and manage to thoroughly engage the audience throughout this production. Barthel and Ellison breathe life into their characters while also dealing with Southern accents and backcountry dialogue. Their strong performances, along with a third minor character Fizhugh (nicely portrayed by Nathan Marlow), make us care what happens to these two—despite the script and story challenges. Th, F, Sa 8pm; Su 2pm. Through 6/28. $8-$15. Celebration Arts, 4469 D St.; (916) 455-2787; www.celebrationarts.net. P.R.