Stage Reviews

Click for Legend Dreams and Diatribes Redux Sound and fury, signifying … well, that’s hard to say. Beyond the Proscenium Productions’ Dreams and Diatribes Redux is easier to enjoy than it is to summarize. It’s physical theater—lots of jerks and stretches, handstands and intertwining bodies—with a cast of five accompanied by spacey music. It’s performed in a small space, which is to say it’s easy to pick up on small gestures, and there’s no air conditioning, which is to say that the lightly dressed performers get sweaty, as director Nick Avdienko works them hard. Ann Tracy’s script mixes maxims and proverbs (“The poor will always be with us”) with unanswerable questions (“Was water involved?”) and advertising jingles, inserted with a sarcastic edge. There’s also near-constant use of projected video, even as Gil Scott-Heron is pointedly quoted saying, “The revolution will not be televised.” And there’s the bit about the sexy eggplant. The show has several pretentious moments early on but then opens up into nimble wit, clever interplay of words and motion, and a smart use of modest resources on the director’s part. If you’re looking for something “different,” this one’s a good choice.
California Stage; 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 25; $10-$12. 1721 25th Street, (916) 456-1600. Through June 25. J.H.

Click for Legend The God of Hell Sam Shepard is as subtle as an anvil on your head in this hard-biting shock farce set in a remote Wisconsin dairy. This peaceful farm is invaded by a mysterious old chum running from a secretive government job and a smooth-talking stranger literally selling patriotism. What starts off as a sweet comedy swiftly swirls into a wickedly witty farce. Though it’s a bit heavy-handed, there’s a perverse joy in unveiling the danger of a “Big Brother knows best, so shut up and salute” mentality. Fair warning: This is adult fare, from the colorful language to explicit torturing.
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, with 2 p.m. shows on June 21 and 28, and July 5; $23-$28. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300, Through July 16.

Click for Legend 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.

Click for Legend 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.

Click for Legend 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, $10-$15. 2427 17th Street, (916) 444-8229. Through June 17. J.H.

Click for Legend 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; $14-$15. 1616 Del Paso Boulevard, (916) 925-6579, Through July 2. P.R.