Darlin’ Set in a San Joaquin Valley labor camp populated by Dust Bowl immigrants, this show plays intelligently off the current Steinbeck centennial. Family tensions, a girl’s longing for her dead mother, and the weary single dad’s efforts to carry on come into focus when a photographer comes to the camp to take some documentary pictures. The excellent script, with two strong female characters, was written by Charlotte Samples (women were never Steinbeck’s strong suit). The acting ranges from fair to very good, and sets are lovely in this small production. If your taste runs to California history and scripts with good literary values, this one’s a good bet.
California Stage , 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, $12-$14. 1723 25th Street (between Q and R), 451-5822. Through October 27. J.H.
Driving Miss Daisy This show is an all-star reunion, with actress Janice Read Hoberg and Dale O. Black reprising their Elly-award-winning performances from a production of the same play at Garbeau’s 10 years ago. This time around, they’re joined by James Wheatley, a multiple Elly winner who’s one of the best actors in town. The direction is a little loose, but this is a very strong show otherwise. The story, of course, involves a 25-year relationship, strained at times, between an aging Atlanta matriarch and her black chauffeur. Alfred Uhry’s script (for which he won a Pulitzer in 1988) is warm but not as sentimental as the subsequent film. Some episodes, such as the bombing of a Jewish temple, echo events we’ve experienced all too recently right here in River City. The show is at
Garbeau’s Dinner Theatre , at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and at 12:30 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $17-$34. Garbeau’s is at 12401 Folsom Boulevard, Rancho Cordova. Call 985-6361. Through November 3. J.H.
The Glass Menagerie Most people have heard that The Glass Menagerie is a great American play—so how come it’s been years since we’ve seen a professional production locally? Foothill Theatre Company’s stylish autumn offering ends that drought. The show can be admired from many different angles: the chemistry between cast members Sam Misner, Sharon Winegar, Karyn Casl and Joel Bischoff; the moody lighting (Les Solomon); and, of course, the playwright’s way with language and characters—incredibly lively and very funny at times, framed by hauntingly lyrical backward glances. Director Lynne Collins gets at the family dynamics (love and dysfunction, side by side) without getting mired in gloom and doom.
Nevada Theatre , 7 p.m., Thursdays; 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m., Sundays. $5-$21. 401 Broad St., Nevada City, (530) 265-8587. Through October 27. 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.
Picasso at the Lapin Agile This play by actor, comedian and author Steve Martin explores what might have happened if two young upstarts—Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso—had stumbled upon one another at the beginning of their history-making careers at a famous Parisian artists’ hangout. Though the play is full of wit and wisdom, at times Martin doesn’t seem to trust himself or his audience with his original premise, so he uses everything in his comedic palette with mixed results. Director Peggy Shannon has assembled a talented cast of actors and keeps tight rein on Martin’s wayward high jinks to produce a light, likable 90-minute production. Sacramento Theatre Company, 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; matinees at 1:30 p.m. Thursdays, and at 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $18-$36. Because of STC renovations, this production will be performed at
Natomas High School Theatre , 3301 Rosin Boulevard, 443-6722. Through October 20. P.R.
The Playboy of the Western World This quirky comedy is about a stranger who wanders into a wee Irish village and declares he’s just killed his father. Peculiarly, his declaration makes him a folk hero to the men and a heartthrob to the women. This City Theatre production has so much going for it—inventive direction, an imaginative set, and likable performances from a mostly young cast. So, if everything’s working, why not a better rating? Because you can’t understand half of what’s being said between the heavy, fluctuating Irish accents and the slurring dialogue of the drunken characters. But there’s still time to tone down the brogues and drunken mumbling. Underneath lies a laudable production.
City Theatre , 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $10-$12. At Sacramento City College, 3835 Freeport Boulevard, 558-2228. Through October 26. P.R.
Quake Lucy, in pursuit of Mr. Right, stumbles onto That Woman, a murderess and astrophysicist who disposes of her husbands the moment they disappoint her. Lucy sees That Woman as her mentor, and That Woman responds with diatribes about physics, ions, power, chaos and motion—kind of like the cosmos meets the Cosmo girl. There’s quite a bit of quirk in Quake, which keeps it funny and edgy, important qualities in a play that doesn’t play by the rules. There are tidbits, funny bits, serious bits, short scenes, long speeches, fantasies and realities. Most of them work, but some speeches are spacey, the male characters are cartoony, and the end is squishy. However, enough clever dialogue and funny asides, along with a strong production by Beyond the Proscenium, keep it flying high.
Actors Theatre , 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Sundays (October 13 and 27), $12-$15. 1616 Del Paso Boulevard, 922-9774. Through October 27. P.R.
Sympathetic Magic Playwright Lanford Wilson’s play is a big-canvas affair involving an appealing group of eight intellectual characters who get into everything from art to domestic violence. Settle back and enjoy the ride; getting at life’s big subjects takes a little time. This is a wise play with a satisfying payoff and a deep perspective. It’s good work by director Adrienne Sher and a cast of community actors.
River Stage , 7:30 p.m. Thursdays; 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays, $10-$14. On the Cosumnes River College campus, 8401 Center Parkway, 691-7364. Through October 20. J.H.