On Stage

Our critics weigh in on local theater.

For complete, up-to-date East Bay theater listings, look under Billboard on the home page for the “Select Category” pulldown, then select “Theater & Performing Arts.”

Blue/Orange — Are the people we call crazy really insane, or are they having a logical response to a world gone mad? That’s the question rebellious Scottish psychotherapist R.D. Laing posed in the 1960s. In Blue/Orange, British playwright Joe Penhall takes Laing’s questions up a level by pitting two British doctors against each other, the prize being young Jamaican man Christopher. Their patient is scheduled to leave a state-run hospital after a 28-day “Section 2” stay, but cleverly Penhall never gives away exactly what got Christopher “sectioned,” choosing instead to focus on how he becomes the wishbone — a smart, charismatic, and potentially dangerous wishbone — upon which the two other men tug. — L.D. (Through May 15 at the Aurora; AuroraTheatre.org or 510-843-4822.)

Bullshot Crummond — This popular spoof of ’30s B-movies and detective serials is bald-faced balderdash, packed with cute gags and quick-changes. Joel Roster makes for a nicely dashing lummox as the veddy British hero (though his habit of sticking his tongue out is unnerving), especially when Sarah Andrews Reynolds brightens the scene as his perpetually perplexed foil and love interest. Randy Anger and Melynda Kiring have the sneer and swagger down as cartoon villains in the Boris and Natasha mode. Jerry Motta is amusing enough as everyone else, though his characterizations are so over the top that it’s sometimes difficult to discern whether we’re meeting a new character or an old one in an outrageous disguise. Scott Fryer’s production keeps the pace lively enough that we don’t sweat the small stuff. — S.H. (Through May 22 at Town Hall Theatre; THTC.org or 925-283-1557.)

Impact Briefs 7: The How-To Show — The briefs in question aren’t short plays so much as skits unified by a clever “how-to” theme. Fortunately, they’re very funny, and don’t have that irritating Saturday Night Live quality of starting strong and going nowhere slowly. It’s all pretty slight stuff but awfully entertaining, and the actual vintage instructional films shown between the segments are nearly as funny as the briefs themselves. — S.H. (Through May 28 at La Val’s Subterranean; ImpactTheatre.com or 510-464-4468.)

WWJD? — Political satire meets the medieval morality play in Eastenders Repertory Company’s new offering by Scott Munson, directed by artistic director Susan E. Evans, and the meeting goes about as smoothly as Abbott and Costello’s meeting with Frankenstein’s monster. Chronicling the fall and resurrection of Federal Reserve chairman Charles Mal de Mer, the play boasts a capable ensemble cast who run around making scattershot sociopolitical points in myriad archetypal/stereotypical roles. — S.H. (Through May 15 at the Ashby Stage; 510-568-4118 or Eastenders.org)

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