Almost Grown Up Aviva Jane Carlin is Lizzie, a 46-year-old Cockney housewife who still wrestles with mother issues, in this one-woman play at Sacramento Theatre Company. Carlin is a born storyteller, making you laugh one minute and sigh with recognition the next. At a mere 70 minutes, however, the play feels rather aborted—a lost opportunity easily remedied by Carlin adding a few more stories to round out more fully the premise of mother-daughter entanglements. But if the worst you can say about a play is that you want more, that’s not a bad thing at all. Sacramento Theatre Company , 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, with matinees 12:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, $16 - $35. 1419 H St., 443-6722. Through June 2. P.R.
Arcadia Director Aram Kouyoumdjian has devoted considerable attention (and resources) to this handsome production, which (finally!) brings Tom Stoppard’s witty and wide-ranging script to a local stage. The strong cast features several of the area’s best community actors, and the playwright’s incredible array of topics (literature and landscapes, mathematics, sex, and more, all dovetailed in an ingenious matter) make this a special treat. Call ahead, some performances sold out. Vista Players at the Actors’ Theatre , 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, $12-$14. 1616 Del Paso Blvd., 498-0477. Through April 27. J.H.
Death Trap Ira Levin, author of middlebrow best-sellers (Rosemary’s Baby, The Boys From Brazil) had tongue-in-cheek when he wrote this “one-set, five-character money-maker” back in the ’70s—making smirking remarks about the clichés of the murder-mystery genre, while deploying them at the same time. Just about every character has a motive to kill, and there are lots of nasty weapons conveniently at hand. You can also smile over the dated references to such obsolete technologies as carbon paper. This production won’t make converts out of skeptics, but fans of the form will enjoy the ride. Garbeau’s Dinner Theatr e, 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 12:30 p.m. Sunday, show only $17, dinner/show $34. 12401 Folsom Blvd., Rancho Cordova, 985-6361. Through April 28. J.H.
Eleanor: An American Love Story Eleanor Roosevelt may not make the most likely subject for a musical love story. But Woodland Opera House’s production of Eleanor: An American Love Story is a lovely journey, at a stately pace, through our nation’s past, with several good songs and a strong sense of history. The large cast is dominated by three strong performances—Elizabeth Monet Nilsen as Eleanor, Don Hayden as FDR and Bob Baxter, who appears as Teddy Roosevelt and also as savvy backroom strategist Louis Howe. The show’s a bit long—particularly the first half, which runs 90 minutes. But this very ambitious community production is worth the time invested. Woodland Opera House , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $10-$18. Woodland Opera House, 320 Second St., Woodland, (530) 666-9617. Through May 5. J.H.
Gunfighter: A Gulf War Chronicle Mark Medoff’s world-premiere play explores some dark secrets, lies and videotapes of a particular combat mission in the Gulf War conflict. Gunfighter is a can’t-miss drama with a mesmerizing story, eloquent script, inspired production choices and a talented cast whose absorbing performances will take you on an unforgettable journey. River Stage , 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, $10-$14. Cosumnes River College, 8401 Center Parkway, 691-7364. Though May 12. P.R.
Playland South African playwright Athol Fugard’s first post-apartheid drama explores the unsettled future relationships and unresolved painful pasts of two societies coming to grips with massive societal changes. Playland isn’t Fugard’s best play, but its second half builds the suspense to a nice payoff, and it has two remarkable performances: James Wheatley brings dignity and a sizzling anger to watchman Martinus Zoeloe, while Craig Pelusi is riveting as the puffed-up, pugnacious Captain Gideon LeRoux. The two actors eloquently elevate this play with their unforgettable portrayals of two oddly matched, kindred spirits, leaving a lasting impression. Celebration Arts , 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $10, $12. 4469 D St., 455-2787. Through May 4. P.R.
Six Women With Brain Death This very campy revue is Sacramento’s longest-running show, having celebrated its fifth anniversary in October. It’s a series of skits and songs about midlife women with “expiring minds,” dealing with soap operas, high-school reunions, grocery shopping and getting away from the kids. While the show clearly tickles the funnybone of its core audience (females over 40), our critic found the appeal elusive and the humor generic. But then, he’s a middle-aged guy. Studio Theatre , 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, $14-$18. 1028 R St., 446-2668. Open-ended run. J.H.
Sorta … Director/choreographer/composer Doniel Soto tackles humorous, everyday sitations in this original ensemble piece. The performers are dressed as clowns, with crazy hair and exaggerated gestures, speaking and singing in nonsense language. The show consists of vignettes reflecting the frustrations of modern life, such as waiting in line at the ATM. Cell-phone users come in for particular ribbing. The best scenes are the big ones in which Soto can explore his style of physical theater on a large scale—for instance, a hockey-like game involving paddles and little four-wheeled boards. Abandon Productions at The Space , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $10. 2509 R St., 737-2304. Through May 18. J.H.