Better Places to Go There’s a lot going on in a small-town, run-down diner in the spot of nowhere known as Grand Island, Neb. There are mounds of angst, animosity and anger served up in this diner, delivered by a tired wait staff as well as a strange parade of pathetic patrons. The general theme of local playwright David-Matthew Barnes’ newest offering is being stuck, whether it’s physically, mentally or emotionally. There are moments that are emotionally connecting, especially when the characters deliver their individual sad stories. But the tone constantly shifts, causing it to feel disjointed. But Barnes does have a usable framework, quirky characters and witty banters, so with some tweaks, it could be ready to serve.
California Stage ; 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday; $10. 1723 25th Street, (916) 451-5822. Through April 12. P.R.
Circus Minimus This 75-minute show displays several hallmarks of Doniel Soto’s previous “movement theater” shows: few spoken words; lots of bending and stretching and visual pictures created with intertwined human forms; minimal props; and chanting and a cappella singing. Soto’s focus this time is a tongue-in-cheek takedown of the once ultra-hip but now mainstream Cirque du Soleil. The show opens as farce: The performers execute entirely ordinary “feats” and then strike heroic poses, inviting applause. But gradually, Circus Minimus opens into several lovely tricks, which simultaneously resemble and satirize the whole cirque genre. Good fun from Abandon Productions.
The Space , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $10-$13. 2509 R Street, (916) 737-2304 or email ABANDONemail@aol.com. Dress warmly on cold nights; there is no heat. Through April 19. J.H.
Fossils Playwright Claudia Allen gives us two exceptional characters in her look at a generation of frustrated women who spent years in proper roles and living lives for others. Prim retired professor Abigail and free-spirited retired teacher Carrie meet while vacationing at a cottage and converse about everything from old loves to new dreams, from regrets to remembrances, and from secrets and lies to truths and dares. The acting and directing are seamless; the characters are wonderful. So, it’s a shame the playwright disappoints us by dancing around the obvious and slapping on a completely unrealistic ending.
Sacramento Theatre Company , 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with matinees at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; $18-$36. 1419 H Street, (916) 766-2277. Through April 6. P.R.
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change This audience-friendly musical revue features an appealing, energetic cast, including Equity actor Eric Wheeler (last year’s Gunfighter). The show is in a cozy, 115-seat theater, which creates more intimate, un-amplified dynamics than you get with touring, big-venue musicals. The topics include dating, marriage, parenthood, divorce and death. Some of the lyrics (by Joe DiPietro) and music (by Jimmy Roberts) are superficial, but they go down easy and touch on everyday experiences; the off-Broadway production of this show has been running for years.
Delta King Theatre , 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $18-$22 for the show only or $38-$49 for a meal and the show. Onboard the Delta King, 1000 Front Street in Old Sacramento, (916) 995-5464. Extended through April 13. J.H.
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse The new, high-standard Children’s Theatre of California skips old-style fairy tales in favor of a present-day suburban story—with a moral, ’natch. It’s all about school, including buddies and bullies, as well as getting along with busy parents and a bratty baby at home. It’s a glossy, fast-paced, 90-minute production with a cast of nine (plus a musician) and sharp production values. The show is geared primarily toward elementary school children, but adults will find aspects to enjoy, as well. The show is a superior choice to family movies.
B Street Theatre , 7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, $15 for kids and $20 for adults. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Extended through April 13. J.H.
Major Barbara Playwright and socialist George Bernard Shaw explores many gray areas in this 1906 comedy-drama, making the audience question moralistic rhetoric from all sides about religion, war, economics, social standings and poverty. The real surprise is how funny Major Barbara is, with a wry look at society, family fortunes, economics, fate, love and honor. Director Christine Nicholson lends a gentle guiding hand, never letting scenes plod along. The play will leave you laughing, thinking and talking.
Art Court Theatre , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $10-$12. Sacramento City College, 3835 Freeport Boulevard. (916) 558-2228. Through April 5. P.R.
Red Herring This 1950s pastiche-with-attitude satirizes genre after genre—hardboiled detectives, Soviet espionage and gonzo nuclear-mad militarists—actually, there are a few too many targets. The show’s also undermined by the choppy way it unfolds, with too many set changes diffusing the momentum of the short, snappy scenes. Individual moments are as funny as anything in town—such as Richard Winters’ hilarious barroom scene, in which he sips vodka by the spoonful so he won’t get drunk too fast, or Anthony D’Juan as an ebullient coroner wearing “I Like Ike” campaign buttons. But these funny scenes don’t link up into an ascending sequence with an enhanced payoff at the end.
B Street Theatre ; 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; $15.50-$21.50. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through May 4. J.H.
Under Milk Wood Dylan Thomas’ 1953 radio play Under Milk Wood is basically a Welsh Lake Wobegon, with a narrator introducing us to the gossip and eccentric seaside villagers of Llareggub. The Milk Wood Players present an impressive production that gives honor to Thomas’ intent that words should be felt as well as heard. The strength of the writing is in the details and descriptions. And the strength of this production lies with both the talented actors and their imaginative director, who all clearly love and respect the work. This is for lovers of language and lyricism, though it can be quite dense at times and hard to follow.
Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $14-$18. 1901 P Street, (916) 444-8209. Extended through April 11. P.R.
You Can’t Take It With You In these gloomy times, the best antidote may be fast-paced, frolicking fun. So, put aside all the serious stuff and surround yourself with the old-fashioned silliness of the Sycamore family. In this story, based in 1937, each family member is an odder duck than the next. Normal daughter Alice fears introducing her fiancé and his old-fogey family to her strange but endearing relatives. You can imagine the frazzled frenzy that ensues when the two families get together—one loosey goosey, the other tighter than a bug’s butt. The enthusiastic and zany Foothill Theatre Company cast carries the comedy through rather broad comedic moments. Subtlety is in short supply, but big moments and messages aren’t the goal here; fun is. And the cast delivers.
Nevada Theatre , 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $18-$21. 401 Broad Street, (530) 265-8587. Through April 13. P.R.