Dreams and Diatribes Redux 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.
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 28 and July 5; $23-$28. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300, www.bstreettheatre.org. Through July 16.
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, www.deltaking.com. Through June 25. P.R.
The Last Five Years The B Street Theatre’s summer offering is a “micro-musical”—a chamber piece in a 100-seat venue involving two professional actors and a cute four-piece band (piano, violin, cello and bass) and no mics. It’s a different kind of experience than a big Music Circus show. You’re closer to the performers, but you don’t get the elaborate choreography with a dozen dancers in eye-popping costumes. But The Last Five Years is still a musical, which is to say that it’s dominated by a love story, told with an interesting conceit. She starts with the breakup and works back to the beginning, while he tells the tale in linear fashion from start to finish. They get married in the middle. Performers Jessica Rush and Eric Anderson display personality and charm, and writer Jason Robert Brown delivers clever lyrics and catchy melodies (which won Drama Desk awards following the show’s New York run).
B Street Theatre; 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday, with 1 p.m. Wednesday matinees through August 30; $23-$28. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through September 10. J.H.
Romeo and Juliet This maiden effort from the Sierra Foothills Shakespeare Festival is a pleasing, if somewhat uneven, affair. It’s a fairly traditional staging of a major tragedy, with a cast featuring a few professionals and several seasoned community actors, rounded out by college students. Assets include Jason Bortz, who lights up his scenes as Mercutio—swaggering with his sword and relishing the wordplay in the Queen Mab speech. Bortz also directs, with an eye toward lively fight scenes that trigger chaos in the streets. The show loses momentum after intermission, but this festival is doing several things right (the costumes are lovely, for instance). Enjoy this one and get ready for a fall production of Hamlet.
Sierra Foothills Shakespeare Festival, 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday, $18-$25. Folsom High School’s outdoor amphitheater, 1655 Iron Point Road in Folsom, (916) 847-2099. Through July 2. J.H.
Seven Guitars Playwright August Wilson lets us eavesdrop on the backyard bantering of a 1948 Pittsburgh boarding house. The talk is seemingly about the mundane—roosters, cards, liquor, music and women—but if you listen hard, you’ll hear passion, lost promises and pain. It’s right after World War II, when blacks, including war veteran and aspiring musician Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton, were moving to cities to make a better life. The talented performers make Wilson’s masterful dialogue and characters shine. When these friends shoot the shit, with Wilson’s help, they weave seeming non-sequiturs into a tapestry of hard lives, bitterness, redemption and hope.
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 July 15. P.R.
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, www.thestudiotheatre.net. Through July 2. P.R.