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.
The Beauty Queen of Leenane The B Street Theatre—which always recruits good actors, but has had a penchant for cheesy scripts of late—returns to strong form. This play put Martin McDonagh on the map (in a big way) in the ’90s. Set in a poverty pocket of rural Ireland, the story involves an unmarried 40-ish woman who cares for her manipulative, elderly mother. Temptation shows up in the form of a good-looking man with romantic intent, and what starts like a comedy develops into a dark family drama, well written and well played. Julia Brothers is very good in the title role. B Street Theatre, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 p.m. Friday, 5 and 9 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, with 2 p.m. Wednesday matinees on May 8, 15, 22 and 29, $10.75—$20.50, 2711 B St., 443-5300. Through June 2. 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.
Orestes 2.5 Working off a Greek myth, director and script adapter Ann Tracy explores themes of vengeance, madness and apocalyptic destruction—as well as politics, soap operas, gender roles and the bond between siblings. Ideas and concepts from past and present come at you fast and furious, and there are several striking scenes involving the Furies (who double as orderlies in a mental ward) and others. Not everything jells, but those who enjoy explorative work will find plenty to keep their brains cooking. Beyond the Proscenium Productions at California Stage, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee on May 12, $12-$15. 25th and R, 922-9774. Through May 12. J.H.
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.