The Gin Game A card game is a perfect dramatic device. Two people can communicate through their playing styles and in the chitchat that happens between hands. This two-character play, set in a dilapidated senior-citizens home, highlights the humor and the pathos of two gin-rummy players with completely different attitudes toward the game. It’s a slice of senior life, but don’t confuse it with a warm, go-gently-into-the-good-night look at the aging process; these two are a prickly pair. The two stars are perfectly matched. Ed Claudio is the crusty Weller, and Hazel Johnson is his equal in her delicate performance as the quiet, tough-as-nails Fonsia.
Actor’s Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $12-$15. 1616 Del Paso Boulevard, (916) 925-6579. Through September 25. P.R.
Grease This isn’t the Grease you saw at the movies. It reaches back to the original 1972 off-Broadway show, when the musical had more grit and grease. The 1978 movie starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta sanitized much of the story and salty talk. In this production, the Australian-exchange-student angle is gone, the raunchy talk is rampant, and the first act ends in a full-monty moon. The moon and mouthy teens are a pleasant change for anyone looking for a pure Grease experience, but the play is not recommended for young kids and movie fans looking for that sweet Sandy story.
Runaway Stage; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $12-$17. 24th Street Theatre, 2791 24th Street, (916) 207-1226. Through September 25. P.R.
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; 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.
The 2nd Annual Sacramento 2Page Play Festival This likeable, lighthearted program showcases seven of director Evan Nossoff’s SacActors.com students in 20 very short plays, which run the gamut from hilarious to forgettable. The show begins with a bang: Cell Phone Reminder, in which six actors commit battery on an “audience member” who hasn’t switched off his you-know-what. The show ends on a high note with Christophos Reeks, about a dad and a barfing, carsick infant, hilariously recast in the style of Greek tragedy. But many of the intervening playlets are one-note novelties, and the actors (while appealing and energetic) are variable in their ever-changing roles. In other words, this is a fun show if you’re in the neighborhood or have a friend in the cast, but it’s not the sort of major achievement that merits a long drive to see.
Geery Theater; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $12.50-$14.50. 2130 L Street, (916) 452-4152. Through October 30. J.H.