Stage Reviews

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Art If you look closely, Serge tells his bemused friends while unveiling his expensive new art purchase, you can see white stripes on top of the white background. It’s an emperor’s-new-clothes moment as Serge’s two best friends react to the white-on-white canvas in their own personality-challenged ways. Soon this three-man circus isn’t only exploring the world of art, but also the art of friendship. This is the rare comedy that examines the interplay between three male friends, inner dialogue and all. It’s also a perfect vehicle for this talented cast in an intimate theater setting.
Delta King Theatre; 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $16-$18. 1000 Front Street in Old Sacramento, (916) 995-5464. Through June 20. P.R.

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The Boxcar Children This is a fun and very amusing adaptation of a popular children’s-book series about the adventures of four Depression-era orphans. It’s a quick trip—just two half-hour acts. This makes the plot a bit choppy, but the end result is an entertaining story about plucky, enterprising kids who just want to stay together as a family. Great period additions include 1930s songs, a movie-organ soundtrack, handsome costumes, and Laurel- and Hardy-like sidekicks.
Children’s Theatre of California; 7
p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday; $15-$20. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Extended through June 13. P.R.

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Les Preciéuses Ridicules/Them Ridiculous Little Ladies This double bill of one-acts offers two versions of the same play. First comes a respectful, traditional reading of the original by Molière—in the original French, set in Paris circa 1690, with costumes to match. It’s a tale of two very pretentious women who get taken for a ride by a wannabe poet (who’s actually a manservant). Some of the community actors handle the French dialogue better than others. If you don’t know the language, be sure to read the synopsis in the playbill. (Better still, scan a translation of the play a few hours before seeing the show.) In the second half, artistic director Ray Tatar transfers the story to Paris, Texas, circa 1890, substituting rifles for rapiers, Stetsons for wigs, and outsized Lone Star slang for smooth French. It’s a hoot.
California Stage; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $12-$14. 1723 25th Street, (916) 451-5822. Through June 19. J.H.

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The Lion in Winter This sturdy (if not stellar) production hits most of the strong points of James Goldman’s perennially popular script, which is set in medieval France. It features characters who sound quite contemporary, and it plays like a comedy, though there are actually some nasty schemes afoot. An aging king and his estranged queen are in a stalemate over which of their three flawed sons will inherit the crown. The script features several staggeringly beautiful, bleak speeches—though they aren’t always delivered in tip-top form. Director Lydia Venables realizes enough of the potential to mold this production into winning entertainment. Shelly Sandford is particularly good as Eleanor, mixing sweetness and sarcasm, strategy and sadness.
Woodland Opera House; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $10-$14. 340 Second Street in Woodland, (530) 666-9617. Through June 20. J.H.

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7xLove Evan Nossoff—who organized this show by and taught this group of community actors—has a great marketing hook. 7xLove is seven one-act plays, featuring seven actors, by seven playwrights (actually eight; there’s a double byline) and seven directors. The common theme is love, as in love found, love gone bad and love fantasized. It’s a crazy-quilt show with new stories and new characters every 10 or 12 minutes. Chances are you’ll find three or four that you like.
Geery Theater; 8 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday; $14.50. 2130 L Street, (916) 451-4152. Through June 20. J.H.

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Slider Abandon Productions applies its low-tech, high-concept style of physical theater to a linear, biographical storyline. The focus of the tale is Slider, a tough girl growing up in the 1940s (played by Dana Hudson, with a marvelous squint and scowl). Her life takes several heartbreaking turns, but she survives the setbacks, albeit with scars. The limber cast members— wearing climbers’ helmets and hard plastic kneepads and wrist guards—run, slide, climb and collide on the concrete floor, in addition to singing well-layered a cappella vocals. Director Doniel Soto conjures gorgeous visuals of childbirth, a drowning at sea and more, using only his actors’ intertwined torsos and limbs.
The Space, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $10-$13. 2509 R Street, (916) 737-2304. Extended through June 19. J.H.