Ah, Wilderness! Great American playwright Eugene O’Neill’s only comedy deals with one of the same issues as his signature dramas: alcohol and how it damages relationships. In this tale, set in 1906, a small-town newspaperman’s teenage son upends the family’s Fourth of July plans by skipping the fireworks and going to a sleazy dive, where he meets easy women and gets drunk. What makes Ah, Wilderness! different from O’Neill’s brooding dramas is that this play is a brush with adult life’s temptations (cushioned by forgiveness and parental love), rather than a shattering collision. This production features excellent interplay between cast members Lew Rooker and Laura Kaya as the concerned parents, and good work by Stephen Mason as the often tipsy Uncle Sid.
City Theatre, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, with 2 p.m. matinees on December 2, 7 and 9; $10-$15. Art Court Theatre at Sacramento City College, 3835 Freeport Boulevard; (916) 558-2228; www.citytheatre.net. Through December 10. J.H.
Cymbeline What story features a wicked stepmother, a plucky woman of high birth who disguises herself as an ordinary young man, and an easily manipulated husband who jumps to the jealous conclusion that his wife is unfaithful and must die? Those elements exist individually in Cinderella, Twelfth Night and Othello, but they’re found together in Cymbeline, one of Shakespeare’s least-produced plays. UC Davis is bravely staging this rare bird with a largely female cast. The script features so many chance encounters, blurted revelations and long-shot reunions that many scenes inevitably morph into breathless comedy. Along the way we meet one of the Bard’s most interesting women (Innogen), one of his most devious schemers (Iachimo), and a hero who survives incredible reverses (Posthumous). So even though Cymbeline is not one of Shakespeare’s masterworks, and this is not a 100-percent successful production, it’s nonetheless an intriguing, worthwhile, and decidedly uncommon experience.
Main Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $10-$16. UC Davis, (530) 754-2787 or (866) 754-2787. Through November 19. J.H.
Evangelize! This semi-staged concert version of the recent black gospel musical by locals Lisa Tarrer Lacy and Charles Cooper (who wrote much of the popular show And The Dream Goes On!) is now playing in Midtown. It’s a good-natured, humane comedy about the political repercussions when Sister Angela Divine decides it’s time for a woman to preach in her male-dominated, socially conservative church. Cooper’s score includes several catchy songs that linger in your memory. The production is being groomed as a prospective entry in this summer’s National Black Theatre Festival.
Images Theater Company, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; $15-20. Center of Praise Ministries Cathedral, 1228 23rd Street; (916) 428-1441 or www.imagestheater.org. Through November 18. J.H.
Steambath The action in this dark existentialist comedy takes place in a steamy spa, with men lounging around in white robes and towels, talking about their lives and relationships. Confused newbie Tandy slowly realizes he’s dead, and this room is limbo, a stop on the road to wherever the afterlife leads. Although the thought of being dead unnerves Tandy, being introduced to God as a Puerto Rican steam-bath attendant sends him over the edge Though the play can be a bit frustrating at times, it’s never dull. It’s best to sit back and let the steamy dialogue engulf you. Allow the heavier questions to linger, and enjoy the impressive performances.
Actor’s Theatre, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $14-$15. 1616 Del Paso Boulevard; (916) 925-6579; www.actinsac.com. Through December 10. P.R.
Tell Me on a Sunday This is a great showcase for a talented performer to show off her singing and acting chops, and that’s just what Alexandra Ralph does in this Andrew Lloyd Webber one-woman musical. This story of Emma, a British hat designer trying to make it in New York City, is told all in song and without dialogue. To succeed, one has to be an engaging performer with an impressive singing voice. Ralph delivers on both counts. Unfortunately, this is basically a string of songs about Emma’s string of men. We begin to wish Emma would spend as much time finding a life as she does finding, losing and pining for men. This revival of last May’s production is the Actor’s Theatre’s first effort at its new Folsom venue.
Actor’s Theatre of Folsom; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3:30 p.m. Sunday; $20-$22. Stage Nine Entertainment Store and Theatre, 717 Sutter Street in Folsom; (916) 933-8008. Through December 31. P.R.
The Vagina Monologues SacActors.com revives its long-running show. Reviewing it in 2005, Patti Roberts wrote, “This play with the gutsy title takes a taboo subject matter—a basic body part of every woman—and makes it acceptable to talk about. For this production by SacActors.com, three actresses trade off monologues in front of deep-red velvet panels. The performances examine not only the word, but also the body part, and all the shame, power, fear and beauty that vagina owners carry with them. The play is great fodder for after-show conversations.”
Geery Theater; 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $14.50-$17.50. 2130 L Street, (916) 451-4152. Extended through December 3. P.R.