Stage Reviews

Peter Mohrmann and Janis Stevens make a perfectly dysfunctional pair in <span style="">Humble Boy</span>.

Peter Mohrmann and Janis Stevens make a perfectly dysfunctional pair in Humble Boy.

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Humble Boy The humble boy referred to in the title of this dark tragicomedy is 35-year-old Felix Humble. A Cambridge research fellow in astrophysics, Humble sees everything either through the lens of his science or in the context of bees, which were his recently deceased biologist father’s obsession. Humble finds himself regressed into bitter, childish bantering with his overbearing mother, a queen who dominates all men in her hive. It’s a peculiar play with quirky characters buzzing in way too many directions—but forgivable because it’s always entertaining, intriguing and witty. The biggest joy is watching the two talented leads buzz around each other, stinging with ferocity. Peter Mohrmann is the perfect Felix man-child, pathetic yet sympathetic. And Janis Stevens demonstrates why she just got a New York Drama Desk Award nomination.
Capital Stage; 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; $44-$51 for dinner and show, and $20-$24 for show only. On the Delta King, 1000 Front Street in Old Sacramento, (916) 995-5464, Through June 25. P.R.

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Sly Fox There’s a pleasant surprise at the Woodland Opera House: an adaptation of Ben Jonson’s Volpone, a dark comedy from 1606 about greed, featuring con men, tightwads and whores, all chasing someone else’s gold. Thirty years ago, writer-actor Larry Gelbart revised Jonson’s classic as Sly Fox, updating the language and relocating the story to San Francisco in the late 1800s—around the time the historic (and glorious) Woodland Opera House was built. This community revival is well-scrubbed and not nearly as wicked as it might be considering the seamy characters, cold betrayals and general lack of ethics. But there are still plenty of laughs, and a fine performance from old Micail Buse (hobbling around as a superannuated skinflint).
Woodland Opera House; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $10-$15. 340 Second Street in Woodland, (530) 666-9617. Through June 4. J.H.

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Strange Sightings in the Great Southwest This lyrical, sometimes-poetic play is by and about women. It’s driven by the interpersonal conflicts and growing pains felt by two sisters (one prim and the other a sexpot, both hitting middle age) and a nearly adult daughter with a physical disability. They’re trying to work out the way they relate to each other, and to men. Each of these women also has an internal issue to overcome, and, by the time you reach the play’s cathartic ending, all three manage to do so.
Foothill Theatre Company; 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $11-$26. Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad Street in Nevada City, (530) 265-8587, Through June 4. J.H.

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The Sugar Bean Sisters The tale of the eccentric Nettles siblings is a broad comedy in every sense of the word. The lives of these eccentric “bachelor girls” living on the old family homestead are interrupted by a wayward showgirl named Videllia, a strange preacher, a reptile lady, outer-space visitors and other sundry stuff. This surreal story is a goofy romp through the Florida swamp with a winning cast, but the convoluted story ends up with more heart than substance.
The Studio Theatre, 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $20-$24. 1028 R Street, (916) 446-2668, Through July 2. P.R.

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Take Me Out Lambda Players stage the first local production of a script that made a splash in New York (2003 Tony Award for best play) but didn’t get picked up by larger local companies. It’s not hard to figure out why: The play deals with homophobia and racial tension in a major-league clubhouse after a star player comes out. In addition to dealing with hot-button issues, Take Me Out also involves showers that work (a technical challenge, especially for a little group like Lambda) and naked guys (routine in a real locker room, but not often done onstage). Lambda’s modestly staged production could flow more smoothly, and some members of the cast handle their roles better than others. But this is an honest, heartfelt show, and it’s well worth seeing. Kudos to Lambda for bringing this important script to a local stage.
Lambda Players; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with special shows at 2 p.m. on June 4 and 8 p.m. on June 7; $10-$15. 2427 17th Street, (916) 444-8229. Through June 17. J.H.

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Tell Me on a Sunday This is a great showcase for a talented performer to show off her singing and acting chops, and that’s just what Alexandra Ralph does in this Andrew Lloyd Webber one-woman musical. This story of Emma, a British hat designer trying to make it in New York City, is told all in song and without dialogue. To succeed, one has to be an engaging performer with an impressive singing voice. Ralph delivers on both counts. Unfortunately, this is basically a string of songs about Emma’s string of men. We begin to wish Emma would spend as much time finding a life as she does finding, losing and pining for men.
Actor’s Theatre of Sacramento; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $12-$15. 1616 Del Paso Boulevard, (916) 925-6579, Through June 11. P.R.