Two world premiere plays are now on stage at the B Street Theatre, and each is outstanding. Perhaps the most surprising of the two is “Going West: The Story of the Transcontinental Railroad,” a humorous but educational look at westward expansion during the late 1800s.
Greg Alexander and Dave Pierini adapted the story from “The Golden Spike,” a B Street Theatre School Tour piece first performed in 2010. The playwrights bring a lot of history to the story, all the while emphasizing the effort and ingenuity required to cut passes through and over mountains in the Sierra. A wonderful cast of familiar B Street actors (each playing multiple roles) brings some truly outsized characters to life, including the Big Four tycoons whose names are well-known in Sacramento: Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins, C.P. Huntington and Leland Stanford, plus the legendary engineer and designer Theodore Judah. It was Judah who mapped out the route through the mountains, who figured out the route and where to do the blasting and where the tunnels would go.
Among standouts in the cast, Rick Kleber plays a sort of tour guide through history, knowledgeable and clever; John P. Lamb is in total communication with Judah’s eccentric nature; and Amy Kelly and Jina Nam play every woman and Asian character who took part in the dangerous endeavor.
Although “Going West” is ostensibly for children, it is sly and snarky enough to hook the grownups, too.
“Going West: The Story of the Transcontinental Railroad” plays at 1 and 4 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday through April 1. The theater is at 2711 S St. Tickets are $18-$23. For tickets or more information about this world premiere play, call (916) 443-5300 or go to bstreettheatre.org.
Jack is Back
Actor, storyteller and comedian Jack Gallagher has written six world premiere one-man shows before “Concussed: Four Days in the Dark,” now on stage at B Street. The theater commissioned Gallagher to write this piece, and it is perhaps his most personal and honest show yet. In previous programs, he has talked about his Northeastern upbringing, the perils and joys of fatherhood and life in the world of television, when he was “Just the Guy” until he wasn’t.
“Concussed” explores his recovery from a 2014 accident in which he was hit by a car while riding his bicycle. His helmeted head hit and cracked the windshield of the car. Although he said he was fine and even rode his bike home, he was far from fine. A few days later, headaches and confusion led him to seek treatment. His prescription was four days in a completely dark room, with no cellphone, tablet, computer or TV. He had to let his mind rest, to heal.
A person so word-obsessed and articulate may be able to lie in bed for four days, but his mind will hardly be at rest. “Concussed” is about what Gallagher has learned about himself and the healing process in the time since the accident. He talks openly about some of the abilities he has lost since the injury, about how he sometimes stutters and has trouble finding the right word — and the right word is very important to him.
It is touching and funny and above all honest. It is a powerful, entertaining exercise, particularly for those who may not have seen Gallagher perform live.
“Concussed: Four Days in the Dark” plays at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, 2 and 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 5 and 9 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, through April 16. Tickets are $25-$38, with $8 student rush tickets when available. For tickets and more information, call (916) 443-5300 or go to bstreettheatre.org.