AAH! Abandon Productions’ physical-theater troupe wrestles with the evolution of human interaction, casting a critical and sometimes comical look at the progress we’ve made as a society. Through its unique blend of dance, movement, a cappella singing, acting and miming, the group continues to captivate. All action occurs within two A-frame construction scaffoldings, where performers loop, leap, slither and snake through the pipings. Even when the concepts haven’t quite gelled, the performers’ sheer joy and enthusiasm have you rooting for them. The miracle is witnessing an experimental theater production that lacks pretension and cynicism. The show lasts one hour.
The Space, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $10-$13. 2509 R Street, (916) 737-2304. Extended through December 13. P.R.
All My Sons This 1947 play was Arthur Miller’s first big breakthrough. Though unfamiliar to many viewers nowadays, 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.
The Canterville Ghost This show, designed for children ages 7 and older, is based on a short story by Oscar Wilde. The production leans toward cinematic values more than literary ones and feels a bit like a Warner Bros. comedy. The story involves a clash of cultures between a practical American inventor and a 300-year-old British ghost who just don’t see the universe the same way. Kids will enjoy the 90-minute production, but grown-ups may find their attention wandering. The situation comedy wears thin before the show wraps up, but there’s a good performance by Stephanie McVay (as the maid), among others.
Children’s Theatre of California; 7 p.m. Friday, and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; $15-$20. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through December 2. J.H.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) This three-man show is the first production in Thistle Dew’s second venue, a “white box” performance space also used as a wedding hall. The performers have lots of energy and spread plenty of smiles (and several belly laughs) as they take down the Bard, using an updated version of the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s oft-produced script. The technical aspects of the production are modest. Dessert and coffee are included in the ticket price.
Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre II; 8 p.m. November 14, 16, 28 and 30; $14-$18. Reservations required. 5324 Riverside Boulevard, (916) 444-8209. J.H.
Emmalehua There’s a lot going on in Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl’s ambitious script: hula dancing, a rivalry between sisters, a visitation from the spirit of their departed mother and even a love triangle. There are also plenty of socio-historical observations from Native Hawaiians and American Indians about land-grabbing white American businessmen taking over everything in sight. Alas, this well-intended production by Interactive Asian Contemporary Theatre (featuring a mix of experienced community performers and rookies) is uneven in terms of execution. It only connects intermittently with the multitude of ideas swimming through the playwright’s head.
Broadway Playhouse; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday; $12-$14. 4010 El Camino Avenue, (916) 452-6174. Through November 23. J.H.
Mother Hicks Set in rural, southern Illinois during the Great Depression, this drama contrasts suspicious, small-minded townsfolk against Mother Hicks—the solitary, self-sufficient healer they regard as a witch. This small-scale production has some problems with awkward scene transitions, but the intriguing exchanges between wise, secretive Mother Hicks (Lynne Perry) and the wild-child orphan called Girl (13-year-old Alexyss Valdez) carry the play.
California Stage; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, with no performances Thanksgiving weekend; $12-$14. 2509 R Street, (916) 451-5822. Through December 2. J.H.