Review: We’re Gonna Be Okay at B Street Theatre

We’re Gonna Be Okay

Grill until the cows come home—if there’s even a home left.

Grill until the cows come home—if there’s even a home left.

Photo courtesy of B Street Theatre

Showtimes: Thu 8pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 5pm & 9pm, Sun 2pm, Tue 6:30pm, Wed 2 pm & 6:30pm. Through 8/9; $28-$47; B Street Theatre’s Mainstage at the Sofia, 2700 Capitol Avenue; (916) 443-5300;
Rated 5.0

Two neighbors stand grilling side-by-side in their shared yard, discussing world and national issues, nervous about political and cultural changes including social upheavals, societal shifts and even Russian threats.

Though the opening scenes of We’re Gonna Be Okay by playwright Basil Kreimendahl sound familiar to current events, it’s actually set in 1962, during the daunting days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when dystopian fears abounded and cracks were felt in Father Knows Best, perfect TV-family scenarios.

B Street Theatre’s clever and compelling production of We’re Gonna Be Okay brings all the elements together for an intriguing look at a moment in history that eerily parallels present day. The early ’60s vibe is evident from the beginning, achieved through period music (Buttons and Bows, Volare), beautiful costumes (women in full skirts and capri pants, men in button-down shirts and loafers) and the creative set of side-by-side houses complete with porches and large front windows that frame the picture-perfect living rooms of two adjoining neighbors.

Dueling grillers Efran (Dave Pierini) and Sul (Jason Kuykendall) talk about barbecue, work, wives and the pros and cons of building a shared underground bomb shelter to prepare for a Cuban atomic bomb. Their wives eventually join them: a nervous-Nellie Mag (Dana Brooke) and a more out-spoken Leena (Elisabeth Nunziato), along with the two teens-with-’tudes Deanna (Stephanie Altholz) and Jake (Doug Harris). Both teen and adult angst abounds—teens with insecurities and adults with fears—with B Street regulars (plus newcomer Harris) delivering believable and sympathetic characters.

The plot is funny and engaging in the first half, full of existential ramblings and funny asides, with a second half that brings drastic tonal and set shifts when the action moves to an underground bunker with cots, canned food and water barrels, all while incorporating a number of unexpected plot twists that keep the audience engaged throughout.