Bash This dark, compelling show is actually three thematically related one-act plays—basically confessional monologues about ordinary folks who kill a stranger, or their own child. Playwright Neil LaBute (also a filmmaker) deliberately invokes Greek tragedy, but he also references his Mormon youth and mindless TV fare. There’s minimal movement; the actors are mostly seated, speaking to the audience and relying on hand gestures, eye contact and body posture. Bash features strong work by local actors Martin Lain, Beth Edwards and Jon Croke, as well as director Anthony D’Juan. It’s a low-budget effort, very troubling, but also very good.
Actors Theatre , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. $12-$14. 1616 Del Paso Blvd., 925-6579. Through Sept. 29. J.H.
Miss Margarida’s Way Miss Margarida, an eighth-grade biology teacher from hell, comes on strong in this deliberately confrontational show. She yells (“Sing, you bastards!”), she berates her students (the people in the audience), calling them “morons” and “silly little fairies.” She writes things on the board that would get any eighth-grade teacher fired. Our reviewer interpreted the show as an unsuccessful effort at in-your-face, Don Rickles-style humor. The show’s producer suggests that our critic missed the point, and the show’s really an in-person lesson in the way that we grudgingly cooperate with dictatorial authority figures, no matter how loony, and eventually give in. Maybe so. Our critic isn’t inclined to recommend the show either way. But it’s possible that others may find value in Miss Margarida as a theater-on-the-edge experience. Be prepared to be yelled at, if you go.
Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $10-$18. 1901 P St., 444-6258. Through September 14. J.H.
Over the River and Through the Woods Joe diPietro’s light comedy involves four Italian-American grandparents, trying desperately to set up a romance for their 29-year-old grandson. The playwright’s occasional homilies about the value of family are shallow, but director Anthony De Fonte wisely keeps the jokes rolling right along, and the ending isn’t quite as sugary as you might expect. The show features veteran professional actor Rod Loomis (a local), part of this company’s new arrangement with Actor’s Equity. Young David Campfield and Heather Williams make for an appealing, somewhat reluctant couple.
Delta King Theatre , 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Show only $14-$16/dinner and show $34-$43. On the riverboat at 1000 Front St., Old Sacramento, 995-5464. Through Sept. 28. J.H.
Picnic Chautauqua Playhouse delivers a strong production of this classic script by William Inge. The setting is Middle America, 50 years ago. But forget about pious endorsements of traditional values: We’re talkin’ single moms, a romantically inclined teen and a handsome white-trash wanderer from Arkansas. Good performances from the large cast of community actors and director Bob Irvin make for a handsome production. Chautauqua Playhouse, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday matinees on Sept. 22 and 29. $11-$12. 5325 Engle Road (in the La Sierra Center), Carmichael, 489-7529. Through Oct. 5. J.H.
Quilters The often difficult, seldom leisurely lives of 19th-century pioneer women serve as the focus of this musical. Hard work on the farm, childbirth at home, and raising a dozen youngsters are topics framed within the repeating theme of quilting—women gathering to make a beautiful, treasured household object out of scraps of colored fabric saved from old garments and other projects. The show gains added resonance within the 1890s atmosphere of the region’s oldest and prettiest theater.
Woodland Opera House , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. $8-$16. 340 Second St. (at Dead Cat Alley), Woodland, (530) 666-9617. Through Sept. 29. J.H.
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, 7 p.m. Sunday, $16-$19. 1028 R St., 446-2668. Open-ended run. J.H.
The Taming of the Shrew Foothill Theatre Company’s production (fresh from the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival) frames this battle of the sexes in a Caribbean setting replete with spaced-out surfers and picturesque buccaneers. It’s an open invitation for the audience to party, with the clashes between Kate and Petruchio played for laughs rather than social import. Director Carolyn Howarth works in plenty of physical humor to go along with the barbed verbal exchanges. Sierra Shakespeare Festival, alternating with Taming of the Shrew. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 4:30 p.m. at
Fred Forsman Amphitheatre on the Nevada County Fairgrounds, look for Gate 4 on McCourtney Rd. in Grass Valley. $17-$21. (530) 265-9320 or (888) 730-8587. Through Sept 22. Performances are outdoors. J.H.
Twelfth Night Long-separated twins, lonely (and wealthy) nobles, mistaken identity, and multiple marriages in the final scene. It’s Twelfth Night, of course, with director Robert Weinapple bringing out some touching turns of fate along the way. Standouts include Robert Sicular as Malvolio and Brad Myers as Sir Toby Belch. Fresh from Lake Tahoe, this production is now part of the Sierra Shakespeare Festival, alternating with Taming of the Shrew. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 4:30 p.m. at
Fred Forsman Amphitheatre on the Nevada County Fairgrounds, look for Gate 4 on McCourtney Rd. in Grass Valley. $17-$21. (530) 265-9320 or (888) 730-8587. Through Sept 22. Performances are outdoors, bring long pants and a sweatshirt. J.H.