'A Pail of Grace," which opened Sunday at the B Street Theatre, is the 17th original holiday play penned by Buck Busfield. In this comedy with smart and thoughtful underpinnings, Busfield writes about the difficulties of looking for and finding salvation.
The modern-day story opens with real estate mogul John Finuken (the graceful David Silberman) having experienced a spiritual epiphany while sitting in a park. John, having felt the presence of God in everything around him, decides he must become a vessel of God's word and work only for the Lord.
Some of that work includes bathing people in a large tub he has installed in his main conference room.
John's disparate family members aren't sure how to react to his radical conversion, but he seems entirely at peace with their confusion and doubts.
Everyone is in a quandary as John considers divesting himself of his worldly possessions, and the family wonders how it can protect its financial interests.
John's sweet but clueless wife, Sally (Stephanie McVay), worries incessantly while her two grown children bicker. Daughter Brenda (Elisabeth Nunziato) gripes about her own two out-of-control children and pampered life. Her brother, Les (David Pierini), mopes about, trying to find himself and shed the label of perpetual loser the family has stitched to him.
Kurt Johnson's Zjelko Krelko shakes the family up even more with some shocking suggestions despite his standing as a company executive with longstanding personal ties to John.
While Busfield, who also directs, mines comedy from various sources, including Les' ineptness and Krelko's mangling of English, he covers some serious concerns, particularly when it comes to the complex ideas of spirituality and redemption.
As I've written before, putting these pieces together year after year isn't nearly as effortless as Busfield and his veteran ensemble make it appear. This play fits comfortably into Busfield's holiday canon.
A PAIL OF GRACE
★ ★ ★
What: A chance meeting with God outside a Starbucks forces 75-year-old real estate tycoon John Finuken to re- evaluate his life.
When: Continues 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 Dec. 30.
Where: B Street Theatre Mainstage, 2711 B St., Sacramento.
Tickets: $23-$35 general, $5 student rush.
Information: (916) 443-5300
Time: Two hours and 15 minutes including one intermission.