All My Sons This 1947 play was Arthur Miller’s first big breakthrough. It’s unfamiliar to many viewers nowadays, but it’s well worth knowing. The story concerns a factory owner who knowingly sold defective airplane-engine parts to the military during World War II, resulting in the death of more than 20 airmen. The knowledge of what he did gradually destroys two families in this moral, tragic drama. Director Lee Elliot takes quite a while to rev this small community production up to speed, but once it’s on a roll, its power and inevitability lead to a climax that jolts the audience. It’s worth the price of admission just to see John Walck as Joe (the factory owner).
Chautauqua Playhouse, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $11-$12. La Sierra Community Center, 5325 Engle Drive in Carmichael, (916) 489-7529. Through November 22. J.H.
Arcadia Tom Stoppard’s superlative play about poetry, gravity, history, chaos theory, algebra and infidelity is finally (finally!) getting a long overdue Equity-level production in Sacramento. The story ping-pongs between the early 1800s and the present day. Stoppard’s verbal fireworks provide the greatest thrill for those who pay close attention. It’s very intellectual, occasionally naughty and, frequently, extremely funny.
Sacramento Theatre Company, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 12:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Additional show at 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 1. $13-$33. 1419 H Street. (916) 443-6722. Through November 2. J.H.
Bedroom Farce Three beds; four couples; and lots of pajamas, bathrobes and slamming doors. But it’s not that kind of farce: There’s no butler, no mistaken identity and no overlapping secret trysts. Playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn is mostly making observations about the joys and absurdities of life in wedlock, with subplots involving everyday problems like an aching back, a leaky roof and home improvement. The cast’s British accents tend to wander, but Jes Gonzales is delightful as the fellow on the lookout for wet plaster overhead. Giggles are triggered frequently in this City Theatre production, though the laughter doesn’t entirely carry you away.
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 October 26. J.H.
Conquest of the South Pole This play about four frustrated, unemployed men is not an easy journey. It’s piled high with artistic quirks that make it a challenge for audiences to easily embrace, but it’s a fascinating premise: Young men, tired of their dead-end lives, re-create the adventures of South Pole explorer Roald Amundsen. While hanging laundry on rooftops, they take turns reading the passages and acting out the adventure. The execution is difficult, with staccato scenes and translated dialogue written in rhythmic and rhyming prose. However, there’s no question it’s a fascinating journey.
River Stage, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $13-$15. Cosumnes River College, 8401 Center Parkway, (916) 691-7364. Through October 26. P.R.
The Drawer Boy This sly look at what constitutes a story and what makes a story important begins as a fish-out-of-water tale, when an aspiring actor seeks out “real” farmers he can observe for playwriting inspiration and finds no-nonsense Morgan and his partner, Angus. Because of a wartime head injury, Angus lives only in the present, with Morgan supplying him with his past through repeated stories. Just when this play looks like it’s going down the goofy path of wacky actor, quirky farmer and misunderstood simpleton, it takes an interesting turn. Miles overhears a story not meant for his ears, “borrows” it for his play without permission and opens up secrets long buried.
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; $17.50-$21.50. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through November 2. P.R.
Endgame This staging of the great Samuel Beckett’s “other” dark, absurdist classic—the one that isn’t Waiting for Godot—fares well in this spare, effective staging by the Actor’s Theatre. Ed Claudio gives a marvelous performance, alternately whimsical and tyrannical, as the perpetually seated Hamm. Son Michael Claudio is good as the reluctantly obedient Clov, who can’t sit down. The other two characters (played by Beth Edwards and Mark Heckman) reside in ash cans at the back of the stage, offering nostalgic color commentary. Beckett’s script is a great, weird, vaguely futuristic, hugely funny, and sad, compelling effort—one that’s seldom produced locally. Enjoy this opportunity; we don’t often get to see a show with this many brain cells.
Actor’s Theatre, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $12-$14. 1616 Del Paso Boulevard, (916) 925-6579. Through October 26. J.H.
Misery Misery’s “No. 1 Fan” Annie Wilkes is one of the most memorable characters ever created by horror writer Stephen King. Now she haunts the Delta King in a theatrical adaptation of King’s literary thriller. Annie lives in an isolated farmhouse, obsessing about the Misery romance series. By a twist of fate, the series’ author skids off the road in a snowstorm and is rescued by Annie. He’s in bad shape, and though he feels lucky Annie found him, it slowly dawns on him that his nurse is one wacky woman. From the first time we hear her famous “cockadoody,” the cast has us in its suspenseful grip.
Delta King Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $14-$16. 1000 Front Street, Old Sacramento. (916) 995-5464. Through November 9. P.R.
References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot This small local production of a recent script by noted Latino playwright José Rivera is a welcome development. The play starts out as hallucinatory “magic realism,” with talking animals and a wise, world-weary Moon (played by Antonio Tito Juárez, with his marvelously elastic face). But it’s the more realistic core of the play—a drawn-out argument between the decidedly sensual, increasingly free-thinking military wife Gabriella (Regina Cabral, in a very strong performance) and her four-square soldier husband Benito—that stays with you. Rivera’s language is rich and his use of symbolism is potent.
California Stage, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $12-$14. 2509 R Street, (916) 451-5822. Through October 26. J.H.