The Al Hamlet Summit Kuwaiti playwright Sulayman Al-Bassam takes Hamlet out of Denmark, turns him into a contemporary Arab and plops him in an unidentified Middle Eastern country. Al-Bassam borrows familiar plot characters from Shakespeare but creates original dialogue and adds combustible elements such as arms dealings, political corruption and fighter planes. It’s political theater at its best and messiest—gutsy, provocative, sometimes confusing and ponderous but always fascinating and thought-provoking.
The Space, 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $12-$15. 2509 R Street, (916) 456-1600, www.beyondtheproscenium.org. Through April 16. P.R.
Evangelize This one’s a comedy, with a message. The setting is a male-dominated Baptist church, where Sister Angela (attractive Dana Pope) decides its time to speak the Word. The audience knows right away that she’s going to stand in the pulpit; the fun stems from how she gets there. Yes, it’s a battle of the sexes—including schemes by men and women with their own agendas. Strong points include another noteworthy score by Charles Cooper, the powerful stage presence of actor William Miller (as the pastor), and good comic dialogue by playwright and director Lisa Tarrer Lacy.
Magic Circle Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $18-$20. At the Tower Theatre, 421 Vernon Street in Roseville, (916) 782-1777, www.mcircle.org. Through April 22. J.H.
Insides Out! Katie Rubin’s a spunky survivor of multiple monkeys on her back, and she’s here to tell her tale. This 29-year-old local actress is presenting an engaging one-woman show about her many addictions: alcohol, food, sex, drugs and destructive lifestyles. Frankly, there is little new in this oft-told saga of a life out of control, but what makes the show so unique is the storytelling. Rubin narrates her life through the voices of conflicting internal characters who pull her in many directions, and the actress embodies each of these inner spirits while maintaining a linear story.
Sacramento Theatre Company; 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, with some Saturday matinees; $12-$32. Stage Two, 1419 H Street, (916) 443-6722, www.sactheatre.org. Through April 30. P.R.
Juno and the Paycock This Sean O’Casey classic Irish play, written in 1922, has all the requisites of tragedy: poverty, politics, religion and drink. This impressive B Street production delivers O’Casey’s complex characters, lyrical language, sly wit and rumination on the politics of poverty—as well as memorable performances that resonate throughout the play and long afterward.
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; $23-$28. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300, www.bstreettheatre.org. Through May 21. P.R.
Livin’ Fat This amiable comedy is as comfy as a favorite pair of old shoes, but the story’s also shopworn. We meet three generations of a poor black family living under one roof. When the grandson (a college grad working beneath his ability as a janitor because he can’t find a better job) picks up an overlooked wad of bills that falls next to his broom during a bank heist, the family faces a moral dilemma: Should it keep the much-needed cash? In this Celebration Arts production, there are several marvelous and quite funny moments. There are also scenes where actors s-t-r-e-t-c-h for lines, and the laughs are few and far between during the first half. All told, this friendly community show offers good-natured fun, but the level of execution leaves room for improvement.
Celebration Arts, 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $8-$15. 4469 D Street, (916) 455-2787, www.celebrationarts.net. Through April 29. J.H.
Noises Off Michael Frayn’s farce within a farce is a showcase for nonstop dueling dialogues, slapstick high jinks, wacky characters and silly situations. This Foothill Theatre production pulls together an ace team of actors who expertly execute the comedy’s carefully controlled chaos. It starts when an actress enters the stage, begins her performance of a comedy and then flubs her stage direction. A frustrated voice from above corrects her, and we soon realize it’s the director—we’re seeing a play about a play. This talented cast is clearly having a hoot while giving the same to its appreciative audience.
Foothill Theatre Company; 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $11-$26. Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad Street in Nevada City, (530) 265-8587, www.foothilltheatre.org. Through April 16. P.R.
Paloma Local writer Jack Deveny’s tragic script deals with a feud between two brothers. The setting is San Francisco’s Tenderloin, and the booze flows early and often. Deveny patterned his play after the tragedies of the ancient Greeks with references to bad blood in the past, the warnings (ignored, of course) that trouble lies ahead, and a wrenching ending with a sense of inevitability that leaves an ache in your heart. There’s no single dominant performance, but director Vada Russell successfully locates the power and sadness in the final scenes.
California Stage; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $12-$19. 1735 25th Street, (916) 451-5822, www.thepalomaplay.com. Through April 23. J.H.
Taming of the Shrew Director Peggy Shannon moves Shakespeare’s classic battle of the sexes to the Wild West in this production. It’s an all-out effort with 10-gallon hats, blazing six-guns and singing cowboys. There’s abundant physical comedy (ear pulling, head bopping and knees in groins) and plenty of funny lines (not all of them supplied by the playwright; this show has many verbal and sonic references to movie Westerns). The drawling accents ultimately dilute the verbal duels between Petruchio (Matt K. Miller) and Kate (Saffron Henke, as a sort of Annie Oakley kung-fu princess). Their ultimate reconciliation can be depicted in more heartfelt terms, but that’s not Shannon’s goal; she’s out to make us laugh. It’s a consistently funny show, antic and quick on its feet.
Sacramento Theatre Company; 12:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $22-$32. 1419 H Street, (916) 443-6722, www.sactheatre.org. Through April 16. J.H.