Stage Reviews

Click for Legend Stream of Consciousness Local polymath Doniel Soto of CSUS makes a most ambitious attempt with this independently produced show. It’s focused on physical movement and the actors’ presence in the moment—frequently inspired, but occasionally off the mark. As playwright/director/choreographer/songwriter, Soto guides nine eager, highly athletic, young performers dressed in hooded khaki jumpsuits and black Army boots, with only heads and hands exposed. The show is a cascade of scenes (note the title!), with episodes emerging and dissolving into abstract action. Topics extend from the animal kingdom to human childhood and old age, medieval to modern times, and goofy comedy to savagery and gut-wrenching tragedy, spiced with a cappella singing. It’s starry-sky boot camp and brain candy for the art set, triangulating somewhere between Joe Goode, Meredith Monk, Monty Python and mime. A treat for those who relish a stimulating challenge, but those seeking reassuring romantic comedy had best look elsewhere. Soto’s sparkling direction/choreography are optically engaging, he has lots to say and he’s tuned into many of the stages of life. At just under two hours, the show (which plays without intermission) feels long, probably because it demands nonstop attentiveness from the audience. But there’s a brilliant mind at work here. The setting is an industrial warehouse, and there’s no heat. Bring a blanket on chilly evenings. Abandon Productions, F, Sa 8 p.m., $10. 2509 R St. 737-2304. Through Mar 31. J.H.

Click for Legend The Millennium Monologues The Sacramento Theatre Company commissioned four monologues for this show—three by associated playwrights Velina Hasu Houston (Kokoro), Aviva Jane Carlin (Jodie’s Body) and Bob Devin Jones (Uncle Bends), and one by Davis writer Robert Daseler. They were asked independently to write futuristic one-acts based, respectively, on race, politics, gender and science. The result, as you’d expect, is a grab bag. But it makes for an evening that turns up several interesting surprises. The most pleasant is Daseler’s near-future script, a poolside essay in which a perky college student chats about everything from black holes to cybersex to the way rose petals move on the surface of the water. It’s marvelous writing, and actress Bari Newport brings her saucy character to vivid life. Carlin’s script (co-written with E. Eden) is a bit of far-future sarcasm: a syrupy infomercial for a terraformed community on a hitherto undiscovered moon of Jupiter. The humor’s brittle and pointed, but the concept is borrowed science fiction and the playwrights play a cheap trick at the end. Still, it’s engaging and funny until the final scene, and actress Tara Blau has a field day peddling her wares. Monologues on gender and race by Bob Devin Jones and Velina Hasu Houston are less successful. There are also two likable, smart-aleck songs written by local composer Gregg Coffin. Director Sheldon Deckelbaum conjures up some glowing visual images. Sacramento Theatre Company, 8 p.m. Tu-Sa; matinees Th 12:30 p.m.; Sa, Su 2 p.m. $16-$32. 1419 H St. 443-6722. Through April 8. J.H.

Click for Legend A Piece of My Heart After a season of musical and fantasy productions, Sacramento City College Theatre again finds its dramatic roots with Shirley Lauro’s A Piece of My Heart, first performed in 1988. Though City Theatre has always staged a mixture of experimental as well as classical theater, its true strengths show through in its powerful dramatic presentations. Director and artistic designer Robert W. Gore has assembled a stellar cast that transforms a difficult and intense production into a powerful, moving event. The characters—three nurses, a Red Cross girl, a WAC (Women’s Army Corps) and a country and western singer—relive their horrific experiences as women in Vietnam, then face the arduous and painful process of returning to civilian life and attempting to come to grips with the horrors to which they had been exposed. Also starring is Norman Hernandez, who plays all the show’s male characters. The production is littered with a wide range of staging and lighting techniques, some of which border on distracting—yet none outshine the strength of the cast and Gore’s strong direction, which pulls this show together and will leave audiences on the edge of their seats. This production is definitely not one to bring the kids to, as the psychological effects could be overwhelming for some. City Theatre, F, Sa 8 pm; Su 2 pm, $10. 3835 Freeport Blvd. 558-2228. Through Mar 24. M.B.C.

Click for Legend Twilight, Los Angeles, 1992 An inspiring but very inconsistent production. A set of 26 first-person monologues describing the riots that followed the Rodney King verdict, it was originally a one-woman show in Los Angeles. Here it’s being staged with a cast of 18, opening the way for crowd scenes and chaos when the bullets fly. Taken together, the monologues—coming from gang members, firemen, housewives, politicians and shopkeepers representing different ages and races—create an awesome mosaic of a city torn open by racial tension, economic stratification, and a police force that applies the law differently if you’re young, male and black. About a dozen of the community actors give strong performances that are filled with conviction and urgency. However, a few have trouble with their lines, and the show is also marred by sloppy lighting cues. But, even with its flaws, this show packs a dramatic, real-life punch that you won’t find in some of the romantic comedies around town. Celebration Arts, Th, Fr, Sa 8 pm; Su 2 pm, $12. 4469 D St. 455-2787. Through Mar 10. J.H.