Ernestine Crump longs to find something to believe in, something of her own. Her widowed father, Godfrey, believes in Father Divine, whose portrait hovers over the Crump family's careworn Brooklyn apartment. Her sister Ermina believes that mastering the street talk of the day (1950) will deliver her acceptance in a neighborhood intolerant of African-Americans. Ernestine's Aunt Lily believes communism can empower her race, and she believes, too, that the past is no place to live.
In Lynn Nottage's lyrical Crumbs from the Table of Joy, first produced 19 years ago and now on stage at Moxie Theatre, belief wrestles with doubt, and dreams with reality.
Director Delicia Turner Sonnenberg was involved in that first New York production, and her intuition about the narrative and its characters is clear in Moxie's sensitively told staging. Cashae Monya, so impressive in Moxie's The Bluest Eye last year, beautifully embodies Lily's flamboyance and guarded vulnerability. Noteworthy, too, is Vimel Sephus as Godfrey, Jada Temple as Ernestine and Jennifer Eve Thorn as Gerte, the white German woman Godfrey marries, further bubbling up household and neighborhood tensions. Crumbs is a story of connection and identity that resonates.
It runs through March 2 at Moxie Theatre in Rolando. $27. moxietheatre.com
The moral deterioration of Crystal, to whom circumstances have dealt a bad hand (worst of all, the surrender of her daughter to foster care), is startling in The Old Globe's production of Laura Marks' one-act Bethany. Jennifer Ferrin takes initially sweet and persevering car saleswoman Crystal to some very dark places, and her transformation is the strongest element of Bethany, which often strains believability: Desperate though she may be, would Crystal really tolerate a flammable paranoid like homeless Gary (Carlo Alban) as a "roommate" in the foreclosed-on house they're squatting in? Could she so easily forge a lease to fool a smart social worker (Sylvia M'Lafi Thompson)?
Bethany's final half-hour is pretty harrowing, its sketchy stage-fighting aside. Marks' play makes a graphic statement about survival in terrible times.
Bethany runs through Feb. 23 at The Old Globe's Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre in Balboa Park. $29 and up. oldglobe.org.
The Dixie Swim Club: This one follows five Southern women over time, from college through middle age, as they reconnect periodically at a beach retreat. Presented by Different Stages, it opens Feb. 8 at Swedenborg Hall in University Heights. differentstages.biz
San Diego I Love You 2.0: Audiences are guided to several locations in University Heights to experience a local love story. See Page 13 for details. Presented by Circle Circle dot dot, it runs Feb. 8, 9, 15 and 16, starting at Bourbon Street Bar & Grill in University Heights. circle2dot2.com
The Who & The What: An author of a book about women and Islam is at serious odds with her traditional Muslim father and her sister. Opens Feb. 11 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.com
The Winter's Tale: A king goes kooky with jealousy, suspecting that his pregnant wife has had an affair with his good friend, and orders that his newborn baby girl be abandoned in a faraway location. Opens Feb. 8 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org
A Doll House: A woman's been keeping a secret from her husband, and when he discovers it, he gets angry and she decides to leave him and their children. Presented by UCSD's Department of Theatre and Dance, it runs through Feb. 8 at the Mandell Weiss Forum Theatre at UCSD. theatre.ucsd.edu
Bug: A motel-dwelling cocktail waitress begins an affair with a war veteran and takes on his conspiracy theories. Presented by Ion Theatre Company, it runs through Feb. 8 at BLKBOX Theatre in Hillcrest. iontheatre.com
Nunsense: A group of nuns stage a variety show to raise money for the burials of the convent dwellers who were poisoned to death by the cook. Presented by Moonlight Stage Productions, it runs through Feb. 9 at Avo Playhouse in Vista. moonlightstage.com
Macbeth: A Scottish general's wife convinces her husband to kill the king so that he can take the throne, and it doesn't end well for either of them. Presented by Intrepid Shakespeare Company, it runs through Feb. 16 at San Dieguito Academy Performing Arts Centre in Encinitas. intrepidshakespeare.com
Maple and Vine: The Southern California premiere of a play about an unhappy 21st-century married couple who join a community that completely relives the 1950s. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through Feb. 16 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
The Fox on the Fairway: A country-club president bets on a golf tournament but loses his ringer to the other side and replaces him with a young employee who happens to be awesome at golf. Sounds a little like Caddyshack. Through Feb. 22 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. onstageplayhouse.org
Bethany: The West Coast premiere of a drama about an down-on-her-luck car saleswoman who squats in a foreclosed home as she tries to reunite with her daughter. Through Feb. 23 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org
Chicago: An oft-produced musical set in the 1920s about two murderous, fame-seeking women who wind up on death row. Through Feb. 23 at Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com
Five Course Love: Whimsical love stories play out at tables in five different restaurants. Through Feb. 23 at Scripps Ranch Theatre. scrippsranchtheatre.org
Other Desert Cities: A novelist visits her famous parents in Palm Springs amid her plans to publish a memoir that unearths an unpleasant family secret. Through Feb. 23 at Patio Playhouse in Escondido. patioplayhouse.com
Circle Mirror Transformation: The San Diego premiere of a comedy about a group of Vermonters who enroll in a summer theater class. In the process these strangers get to know one another. Through March 2 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org
Crumbs from the Table of Joy: It's 1950 in Brooklyn, and a grieving black widower has found puritanical religion, uprooted his teenage daughters from Florida and married a white German. Through March 2 at Moxie Theatre in Rolando. moxietheatre.com
The Foreigner: A comedy about a sad Brit, a guest at a Georgia fishing lodge, who pretends to speak no English so he doesn't have to talk to anyone and ends up having to save the lodge from the Ku Klux Klan. Through March 2 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
The 39 Steps: This is a return engagement of a comedic, four-actor stage version of the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film, as if performed by Monty Python, with lots of allusions to other Hitchcock classics. Presented by Lamb's Players Theatre, it's ongoing at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. lambsplayers.org
Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. mysterycafe.net