Sacramento’s B Street Theatre is getting ready to move out of their longtime home in a metal shed by the railroad tracks, and into a spiffy new venue on Capitol Avenue, which will open in February. Their final production in the old location is an original comedy with bulky boxes, burly moving men, and a Christmas tree.
When playwright Dave Pierini was working on this script, which is appropriately titled “A Moving Day,” he must have been channeling classic situation comedy from the era of black-and-white TV.
The play opens with two working-class guys with a big van and a lot of boxes. As they load the dollies, they talk about their relationships with women. One guy is young single, and lonely – he just can’t get a date. The other guy is older, and has been married for years.
Their dialog sounds almost like something from a 1950s episode of “The Honeymooners” – except that they’re referencing smartphones, social media, and dating apps.
Young Guy: So anyway, I matched with this girl on Bumble. And she messaged me, and we decided to meet up last night at The Broke Spoke.
Older Guy: The Broke Spoke?
Young Guy: It’s over on, uh, Vermont…
Older Guy: That place? I went there once. I hate that place…
Young Guy: I know, Frank.
Older Guy: Every guy there has a beard.
Young Guy: You have a beard.
Older Guy: There’s a difference. Those idiots have a beard because they grew them. I have a beard because I didn’t shave.”
The older guy emulates Humphrey Bogart, and offers his inexperienced young colleague a little sage advice.
Older Guy: You can’t let a woman be in charge of every little thing. You let a woman be in charge of every little thing, then she is miserable, and then things don’t work out. That’s a fact. I know you’re doing it because you want them to like you, but it comes off as need. Take it from me. I’ve been in a relationship long enough to know a few things.
But the older fella’s tough guy credibility is blown when his wife calls.
Older Guy: (phone rings) Hi, Mama Bear…
Other characters include an impoverished waif one step away from being homeless, as well as a recluse who’s desperately searching for a long-lost family treasure. And in the tradition of Charles Dickens, this sentimental holiday tale has a ghost.
The kooky characters and cute coincidences make for amiable comedy, without the casual vulgarities that some writers toss into their new holiday plays to wring a naughty titter from the audience.
Instead, this show is like one of those user-friendly crossword puzzles with clues that are pretty easy to solve: Will the mysterious long-lost family treasure ever be found? Will the likeable-but-insecure young guy ever get a date with pretty girl? Do we need to ask, with that cute Christmas tree close to center stage?
The bottom line: “A Moving Day” is smoothly staged, with good-natured chuckles and a warm ending. The script is cleverly written, with several surprises to keep you tuned in… but not too many, because the show runs barely an hour. This sweet little play doesn’t push the envelope, or rock the boat, but you’ll go home feeling contented and amused. It’s like a cozy cup of creamy theatrical eggnog.
The B Street Theatre in Sacramento presents the original comedy “A Moving Day” through Dec. 24.