Make no mistake about it, Capital Stage's current production "Mistakes Were Made" has nothing to do with the holiday season.
That doesn't mean there isn't an epic struggle through one man's moral universe as he tries to create meaning in his life while learning the value of things he might have missed along the way.
In Craig Wright's comic play, there are plenty of shadowy characters but no ghosts to guide Eric Wheeler's portrayal of off-Broadway producer Felix Artiflex. All Felix has is his goldfish (Richard Bay's clever puppet) and his telephone. He talks to both endlessly.
Felix goes on and on and on, talking as if his life depends on getting the words out, which in a figurative way, it does.
He's trying to make the deal of lifetime, and even though no one is really working with him on it, Felix will not be deterred.
As Felix, Wheeler is currently the hardest-working man in local show business. The play resembles a juggling act, requiring Wheeler to keep more and more objects in the air. It's nearly a one-man show, though Anne Mason occasionally pokes her head into Felix's office as his receptionist, Esther.
Carolyn Howarth is the savvy director making the story flow with an engaging directness. The final performances are at 8 tonight and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. At Capital Stage, 2215 J St., Sacramento. Tickets are $22-$32. For information call (916) 995-5464 or go to www.capstage.org.
Also closing this week and also definitely not a holiday play is the Alternative Arts Collective production of "Quills."
Playwright Doug Wright's 1995 drama imagines the final days of the Marquis de Sade. The play became a fine 2000 film by Philip Kaufman, with a high-toned cast including Geoffrey Rush as the Marquis, plus Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Caine and Kate Winslet.
Wright followed up "Quills" with 2003's "I Am My Own Wife," which won the Tony Award for best play as well as the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
"Quills" meditates on art, obsession and creative defiance. Jouni Kirjola stars in artistic director David Garrison's heady production at 8 tonight and Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday at the Blue Box Theatre at the corner of Oxford Street and Lea Way. The address is 1700 Del Paso Blvd. Tickets are $15 at brownpapertickets.com.
For your holiday needs
But wait. You say you're not a jaded postmodern hipster too cool to wear a Santa hat or croon "Feliz Navidad"? You've got holiday spirit, and it goes beyond wearing green and red sweaters with snowflake designs.
Then Sutter Street Theatre is the place for you, my friend. If you want holiday shows, they've got 'em.
There's Mike Jimena and Connie Mockenhaupt's original variety show "Holiday in the Hills," the popular holiday version of "Forever Plaid" called "Plaid Tidings" and the children's play "Madeline's Christmas." All shows are under one roof at the Sutter Street Theatre, 717 Sutter St., Folsom. For times, tickets and reservations, call (916) 353-1001 or visit www.SutterStreetTheatre.com.