The meta-theatrical Kneehigh Theatre troupe out of Great Britain, which brought their hugely successful adaptation of "Brief Encounter" to the United States last year, return with a new piece of bravura performance called "The Wild Bride."
Berkeley Rep is presenting the American premiere of the work, which is adapted and directed by Kneehigh's artistic director, Emma Rice. With "Brief Encounter," Rice and her actors took writer Noel Coward and director David Lean's sad, chaste 1945 romantic film and brought it to vibrant life with multicharacter performances from a talented cast and lush, moody atmospheric projections.
Similarly in "The Wild Bride," Rice creates a dramatic and comic adult fairy tale based on the Brothers Grimm tale "The Girl Without Hands." Here the play with music follows the misadventures of a young woman whose father accidentally sells her to the devil. Old-fashioned theatrical storytelling combines with high-tech production and a versatile, six-person ensemble featuring Audrey Brisson, Stuart Goodwin, Patrycja Kujawska, Eva Magyar, Stuart McLoughlin and Ian Ross command the stage.
The popular production has already been extended three weeks, until Jan. 22. At the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison St. 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Sundays; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. No evening performance Jan. 22. Tickets from $17 to $83. For more information, call (510) 647-2949 or go to http://berkeleyrep.org.
Opening this weekend
The great British mystery writer Agatha Christie wonders what would happen if a stranger innocently wandered into an unassuming home looking for help with a broken-down car and found a chilling murder scene.
Veteran director Jill McMahon puts the cast through its plot-twisting paces, as no one is above suspicion, in "The Unexpected Guest." The Bob and Ro production celebrates its opening tonight with a free wine tasting reception at 6:30 p.m. before the 8 p.m. performance.
At the Studio Theatre, 1028 R St., Sacramento. "The Unexpected Guest" runs at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 12. Tickets are $20 general admission, $18 seniors, $15 students. For information (877) 532-7171 between noon and 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Next week the steady little Arden Playhouse opens the new year with "Oatmeal and Kisses" from the well-known playwright and screenwriter Murray Schisgal.
Schisgal's romantic comedy "LUV" was once done at STC and he was an Oscar nominee for his contributions to the fabulous screenplay for Dustin Hoffman's "Tootsie."
Blake Flores directs with Dan Beard, Frank Hickox and Corinne Nelson in the cast.
"Oatmeal and Kisses" opens next Friday at the Arden Playhouse, 5640 Roseville Road, Suite D, Sacramento, with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Feb. 25.
There are 2 p.m. Sunday matinees Jan. 22 and Feb. 5. All tickets are $18 general admission and can be reserved by calling (916) 332-2582, or go to http://ardenplayhouse.com.