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.
Frankie and Johnnie Were Sweethearts The latest from Thistle Dew Theatre has that “let’s-put-on-a-show” feel to it. Unfortunately, the play never really rises above that earnest makeshift-show-in-a-barn level. Thistle Dew’s artistic director, Thomas Kelly, starts off with a good idea—to dramatize the ballad of “Frankie and Johnny,” the story of a “woman of the night” who kills her lover when she discovers him two-timing her. The first half is a fun concept—amateur night at Johnny’s Place. The second contains a dramatic, moving scene between Frankie and Johnny, but while the scene is riveting, it’s plopped down into what up to that moment has been a lightweight, comedy-filled talent night. In the end, the play can’t really decide what it is—a comedy or a drama—and both parts suffer because of its uncertainty. Thistle Dew Theatre, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 19, $12-$18. 1901 P St., 444-8209. Through June 1. P.R.
Grinder’s Stand Meriwether Lewis, who became a national hero after leading the Lewis & Clark expedition, died of gunshot wounds in 1809 at a remote waystation in backwoods Tennessee, en route to the nation’s capital. Was it suicide, or murder? Oakley Hall III’s beautifully composed script—written in verse (though not the rhyming variety) and studded with quotable lines—works in history, global politics and resource grabbing, Lewis’ substance abuse (laudanum) and money problems, along with an unlikely, fast-blooming love match that’s cut short by the play’s inevitable conclusion. Gary Wright and David Silberman head a strong cast in this Foothill Theatre Company production. A remarkable effort. Nevada Theatre, 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. $17-$21. 401 Broad St., Nevada City. (530) 265-8587. Through May 26. J.H.
Private Lives Private Lives is light fare done well, a comedy of manners that’s a high-society immorality play infused with playwright Noel Coward’s droll wit and wicked sense of impropriety. Real-life marrieds Luther Hanson and Christine Nicholson portray the eccentric and deliciously moral-lacking ex-spouses Elyot and Amanda, who run into each other during honeymoons with new spouses, and quicker than you can say “shilly shally,” the two hedonists dump their respective newlyweds and rekindle old passions. How the audience comes to root for this self-centered, smug twosome can be chalked up to Coward’s writing genius and Hanson and Nicholson’s winning acting talents. Synergy Stage-Delta King Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, $14-$16. On the Delta King, 1000 Front St., Old Sacramento, 995-5464. Though June 8 (no performances Labor Day Weekend, May 23-26). 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, May 24th, and Friday and Saturday, May 31-June 1,.$10. 2509 R St., 737-2304. Through June 1. J.H.