Review: Between Riverside and Crazy at Capital Stage

James Wheatley leans into the role of Walter “Pops” Washington.

James Wheatley leans into the role of Walter “Pops” Washington.

Photo courtesy of Charr Crail

Showtimes: Wed 7pm, Thu 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 2pm, Tue 7pm; Through 9/29; $25-$49; Capital Stage, 2215 J St., (916) 995-5464,
Rated 5.0

Capital Stage launches its 15th anniversary season with one of its best productions ever. Between Riverside and Crazy, the 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by Stephen Adly Guirgis, boasts perfect casting, an exquisite set and fierce dedication to a script that is as challenging as it is entertaining.

The drama is set in a rent-controlled apartment on Manhattan's Riverside Drive where Walter “Pops” Washington (James Wheatley) lives with his parolee son Junior (James R. Ellison III), Junior's girlfriend Lulu (Viktoria Luna) and his friend Oswaldo (Nestor Campos, Jr.). Walter, who has had booze for breakfast since his wife died, is pursuing a lawsuit against the police department for the shooting (by a white rookie cop) that sidelined him.

The play is frequently hilarious and profane (as “Pops,” Wheatley drops plenty of f-bombs and motherf-bombs) and one scene—when “Pops” is visited by the Church Lady (Dena Martinez)—is clearly carnal. Director Judith Moreland is sensitive to the staging of this scene that both shocks and delights.

Wheatley's chief protagonist is Lieutenant Caro (a superlative Aaron Wilton), who is sent, along with the old man's former partner Detective O'Connor (Kelley Ogden), to cajole/coerce “Pops” into signing the agreement. Everybody thinks “Pops” is “crazy” not to, but what he holds out for shows a man with more heart, soul and integrity than anyone expects.