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 T.V. 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 September 29. J.H.
Off the Map Set in a rural New Mexican household straight out of the Whole Earth Catalog (circa the early 1970s), this play features a deeply depressed dad, a resourceful mom, an incredibly perky 12-year-old daughter (local girl Rebecca Clouse) and a few family friends. On the surface, the script functions as a memory play with many comic scenes. But a larger payoff sneaks up on you, and the sum emerges as larger than the whole of its parts. B Street Theatre, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, with Wednesday matinees at 2 p.m. on October 2, 9, 16 and 23, $16.50-$20.50. 2711 B St, 443-5900. Through October 27. 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 September 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 October 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 September 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.
Tartuffe Director Vada Russell goes for broad humor in this boisterous production of the classic Molière comedy about an outwardly reverent, privately grasping and lecherous “friend” who worms his way into the confidence of a gullible businessman. There’s plenty of fussing and pouting and physical fun. The setting is moved to California in the 1850s, and there’s even a little Clint Eastwood spoof toward the end. Main Street Theatre Works in the Sutter Creek Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, September 22; $10-$14. 44 Main St. (Highway 49), Sutter Creek, (209) 267-1590. Through October 5. J.H.
The Woolgatherer This unlikely story of romance features a smart (but occasionally crude) truck driver, who’s hoping for a one-night stand—and perhaps something more—with a shy, solitary young woman whom he meets by chance. The script by William Mastrosimone will hold your attention, but the main reason to see this show is a pair of good performances by local actors Stephen Vargo (a versatile fellow, always an asset on stage) and Maria Rogers. The action takes place in a single room; this small production is at the Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, $12-$18. 1901 P St., 444-8209. Through October 12. J.H.