Rated 5.0

It’s a perfect marriage—the coupling of a fascinating play with a completely mesmerizing performance. Vivien is playwright Rick Foster’s imaginative backstage look at the turbulent life and times of actress Vivien Leigh, a troubled woman embodied by a truly remarkable one-woman performance by Janis Stevens. Although Stevens has a somewhat passing resemblance to an older Leigh, it’s her emersion into the core and spirit of the late actress that breathes life and empathy into Stevens’ portrayal of this larger-than-life personality. Rather than presenting her life in a linear form, playwright Foster places Leigh in her safe place—a theater backstage where Leigh begins a disjointed stream of consciousness, introducing us to various people and roles in her life. Stevens sensitively melds the Scarlett O’Hara side of Leigh—the dramatic flair and passionate personality, with the Blanche DuBois side—the delicate lost soul forever teetering toward madness.
Sacramento Theatre Company, 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays; $15-$36. Stage Two, 1419 H Street; (916) 443-6722 or (888) 4-STCTIX; Through January 6.