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. Tuesday-Saturday; matinees 12:30 p.m. Thursday; 2 p.m. Saturday, Sunday. $16-$32. 1419 H St. 443-6722. Through April 8. J.H.
Men in Riffs Local actor Anthony D’Juan is both author and star of this moody, semi-autobiographical one-man show. It’s a series of portraits, some bleak and some humorous, involving what it means to be “a man” in the context of African-American culture. Some of the characters are pretty creepy—like the long-absent dad, always promising to send gifts to his 9-year-old son, who shows up with a six-pack and proceeds to drink most of the beer while visiting the boy. Other scenes feature a pimp, an opportunistic lover waking up after a one-night stand, and a guy on a barstool—alcohol is a recurrent theme. The 24-year-old D’Juan (who says he’s been writing since age 7) comes up with some good lines and situations in his script, and as an actor he shifts smoothly from swaggering braggadocio to introspective regret. He also does a high-energy dance to a Michael Jackson song, but the dominant musical motif comes from Marvin Gaye’s haunting 1972 soundtrack to Trouble Man. At around 65 minutes it’s not a long show, but it feels neither skimpy nor padded. Though it isn’t a breakthrough piece, it’s well-constructed and well-performed. D’Juan is a young man to watch. Production values are modest in this low-budget studio production. Actor’s Theater, 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. $14-$10. 1616 Del Paso Blvd. 484-3750. Through March. J.H.
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 and a country 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. This production is definitely not one to bring the kids to, as the psychological effects could be overwhelming for some. City Theatre, 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. $10. 3835 Freeport Blvd. 558-2228. Through March 24. M.B.C.
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. 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. Abandon Productions, 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday. $10. 2509 R St. 737-2304. Through March. J.H.
Sylvia Audiences just can’t seem to get enough of this A.R. Gurney comedy—this is at least the fifth production around the region in as many years. It’s actually a revival of Foothill Theatre’s popular 1997 production, featuring mostly the same cast. If anything, it’s better the second time around. Sylvia is the story of a mid-life Manhattan couple—the kids are off at college, the husband’s lost interest in his career. All is transformed when he brings home a wandering, energetic dog—Sylvia—who quickly becomes the center of his life. Actresses love to play the title role, and it’s particularly well suited to Carolyn Howarth (star of this production), whose strong suit is physical comedy. The other parts are also well cast—Philip Sneed puts a funny twist on mid-life melancholy, while Gary Wright does hilarious variations in both male and female roles. Newcomer Trish Adair grits her teeth and perseveres as the spouse determined to retrieve her husband from this unfortunate episode of puppy love, and director Nancy Carlin takes the script for exactly what it is—silly fun. (Note: though the script quotes Shakespeare in scene after scene, the f-word also pops up loudly and frequently.) Call ahead for tickets before driving to Nevada City; many performances will be sold out. Nevada Theater, 7 pm Thursday; 8:15 pm Friday, Saturday; 2 pm Sunday. $5-$21. 401 Broad St., Nevada City. (999) 730-8587. Through April 8. J.H.