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
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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A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess—the novelist and composer who wrote the original story in 1962—reclaimed his work from Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic treatment with this 1986 musical. It’s a fascinating morality tale about a smirking, antisocial punk with a penchant for random violence. Burgess created the prescient character just before the Rolling Stones made it big and 15 years before the advent of the Sex Pistols. The story contrasts the needs of the greater social good against the ugly downside of government-sponsored mind control. The score (also by Burgess) draws extensively and wittily on Ludwig van Beethoven. This production by the Actor’s Theatre runs on a slender budget and features a few student actors who are still learning their chops, but Michael Claudio stands out in the leading role.
Actor’s Theatre;
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $12-$14. 1616 Del Paso Boulevard, (916) 925-6569. Through June 27. J.H.

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Fully Committed Think of this one-man “comedy of interruptions” as a high-speed endurance run. Your heart goes out to Sam, the stressed-out reservations specialist manning the constantly ringing phones in the basement of a popular, upscale restaurant. The frantic customers are desperate to get a table, while the staff upstairs keeps barking contradictory commands. It’s also a test for versatile actor Gary Alan Wright, who constantly shifts between portraying the long-suffering Sam (running between three phones and an intercom) and the three dozen other characters who pound him with demands. Wright rises to the occasion.
Foothill Theatre Company;
7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $19-$23. 401 Broad Street in Nevada City, (530) 265-8587. Through August 15. J.H.

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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; $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.

Click for Legend The Underpants There’s a lot of Steve Martin in this broad comedy filled with sexual innuendoes, crazy characters and slapstick humor. Martin adapted a classic 1910 German farce about a young wife who loses her knickers just as the king rides by, creating a social scandal and marital upheaval. Underwear humor becomes a running gag and sets an over-the-top tone. Adding to the madcap mayhem are a nosey neighbor, a couple of randy roommates and the king himself. There isn’t an ounce of subtlety or a smidgen of sophistication to be found, but amusing absurdities abound.
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, with Wednesday matinees on June 23 and 30; $18.50-$23.50. 2711 B Street; (916) 443-5300. Through July 11. P.R.