The Big Bang Two actors not only portray everyone from Adam and Eve to Napoleon and Josephine in this 23-song musical, but they also use everyday items for costumes—grabbing curtains, vases and pillows for personal props. Everyone is skewered, no race or religion is spared, the double entendres fly, and the jokes are both naughty and groan-producing. It’s not for the thin-skinned, but it is for audiences looking for madcap mayhem and zany antics in their summer entertainment.
B Street Theatre; 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday; $22-$28. B2 Stage, 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Extended through September 11. P.R.
The Comedy of Errors Oft staged at summer festivals, Comedy always features two sets of twins and a lot of mistaken identity. Directors like to move the setting to different eras, and Carolyn Howarth places this fast-paced, irreverent production in the Wild, Wild West with blazing six-guns, 10-gallon hats and a frustrated wife in a pink Annie Oakley outfit who proves that even cowgirls get the blues. You’ll need a scorecard to keep track of all the pop-culture references and zany add-ons. Shakespeare purists (a dying breed) may offer a few objections but likely will forgive the director because the show is so funny.
Sierra Shakespeare Festival; 7:30 p.m. August 27 and September 2, 8 and 10, and 4:30 p.m. September 4; $10-$23. Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley, (888) 730-8587, www.foothilltheatre.org. J.H.
Crumbs from the Table of Joy This beautifully written memory play describes a transplanted African-American family in New York around 1950. A recent widower has left the Deep South (and his own wild ways) behind and has started over in a new and quite religious life. And he’s brought his teenage daughters with him. But his late wife’s sister turns up—and she’s a leftist, prototype feminist who isn’t averse to jazz and drinking. When conflict inevitably arises, the widower gets into a surprise marriage and further unsettles the household. The play is staged with low-key charm. Actress Chenelle Doutherd shines as the widower’s shy elder daughter, who is torn between her rural past and urban present. She tells us what really happened to this very interesting family, as well as the way she wishes things had turned out.
Celebration Arts, 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, $13-$15. 4469 D Street, (916) 455-2787. Through August 27. J.H.
Hate Mail Preston, not happy with his snow-globe purchase, writes a brusque letter to the store manager for a refund. She’s just as curt writing back. Thus starts a war of the words and the beginning of a perverse relationship. Hate Mail is a glib alternative to the theater classic Love Letters, with a similar dramatic premise: a dialogue between two characters exchanged through letters. But this is a twisted version, with two rather unsympathetic characters battling it out through letters, notes and e-mails. The play is a bit superficial, but the repartees are clever and wicked.
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; $20-$28. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through September 25. P.R.
James Lawrence McKinley Writer-director Malinda Sorci’s 50-minute piece James Lawrence McKinley is a one-man, one-act play with recorded video projected like a silent movie, plus recorded pop music as accompaniment. Performer Dan Perlea gives a haunting performance as the homeless McKinley in the present. In the video, Perlea also gives us clues about McKinley’s past, but one comes away with a sketchy sense of what makes the guy tick and who he really is. Sorci undoubtedly set out to create an enigmatic portrait—and she has. This viewer simply wanted a few more details.
Fat Cow Theatre Festival, 8 p.m. August 26 and 2 p.m. August 27, $9-$11. California Stage, 1721 25th Street, www.fatcowtheatre.com. J.H.
Macbeth Director Lynne Collins helms the greater Sacramento region’s first professional mounting of this dark, intense tragedy in more than a decade. Actor Philip Charles Sneed is the right man for the title role. Sneed takes us through Macbeth’s transformation from a powerful warrior into a monstrously paranoid, ruthless monarch. Watching the transformation is like seeing a house go up in flames. Collins doesn’t overplay the occult aspects, leaving Macbeth’s bloody rise and devastating fall as the central focus.
Sierra Shakespeare Festival; 7:30 p.m. August 26 and September 1, 3, 9 and 10, and 4:30 p.m. August 28; $10-$23. Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley, (888) 730-8587, www.foothilltheatre.org. J.H.
The Rainmaker This latter-day Western dates from the 1950s, and some of the language is a tad dated. But the story—which deals with overcoming entrenched negative relationships and allowing yourself to take a chance on romance—feels contemporary. When the long drought (lack of rain and lack of love) finally breaks, everyone feels the lift. This production benefits from its outdoor venue (chirping crickets and a starry sky) and a big, attractive set, but it’s the performances that close the deal. Most noteworthy are Michael Claudio (as the dubious but charming “rainmaker”) and Dale Lisa Flint (as the “plain Jane” daughter who comes out of her shell). Bring your own lawn chair and a picnic.
Main Street Theatre Works, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $10-$15. Kennedy Mine Amphitheatre, on N. Main Street in Jackson, www.mstw.org. Through September 17. J.H.