By Joseph Rodota

Oct 13, 2016 - Oct 22, 2016

Ratings and Reviews:
3.66 44 votes
About the Show:

From cell 2455 in San Quentin, Caryl Chessman battles politicians and prosecutors over 12 years as he desperately seeks to avoid the gas chamber. As Chessman runs out of options, he turns to the one man who can save him: Governor Pat Brown. All eyes are on Brown while he balances his private beliefs and public duty – and confronts disagreements within his own family — as he decides whether to grant clemency to the most famous Death Row prisoner in the world.

Matinee performance

Thursday, October 13 at 2pm

Opening night

Friday, October 14th at 7pm

Show Times

Tuesdays – Fridays at 7pm, Saturday at 8pm

Ticket Prices


Additional Show Information

14 Responses

  1. Chessman was both entertaining and thought-provoking. A great experience, all around. I'm impressed by the playwright's ability to use personal letters and speeches from the Brown family with Mr. Chessman's letters and legal documents to create the script.
  2. GL
    It's a fast-paced play without a dull moment. The actor for Gov. Pat Brown played the role masterfully.
  3. What a wonderful play, a perfect balance of history, drama and a touch of comedy that relates to every day life. The actors in the play were phenomenal, so believable in their roles and really worked well off one another. What I took away from the play wasn't a biased political message, but the importance of seeing all sides of the story, reaching a decision and the importance of listening to those you care about in the process. I never imagined that a play could cause such a roller coaster of emotions, truly a good watch.
  4. This is a riveting family drama about one of the most bizarre death-penalty cases in U.S. history – it's fascinating and emotional on multiple levels. The excellent cast brings vivid life to this amazing tale. Go see it!
  5. on a cold, rainy, saturday evening in sacramento, i had the pleasure of being able to see chessman at b street theatre. although i googled caryl chessman prior to attending the show, i did not know a lot about the subject. the play gave me insight to caryl chessman's life & times and a glimpse of the california history that surrounded it. kudos to joseph rodota for taking on the project with the outcome of an excellent, riveting, well cast play. i was amazed that - with no set changes they were able to weave the entire play on one stage set. cheers to chessman, the play by joseph rodota!
  6. The police car R Really set the scene for the play. And Chessman was the best play I've seen at BStreet in the past 5 years since we have been season ticket holders. Great use of the stage and lighting. Really enjoyed the play, acting and dialog. Thought provoking and fair approach to a polarizing social issue.
  7. My husband and I really enjoyed Chessman the other night, and the talk-back afterward was icing on a very good cake. Joe Rodota's story of a family is both deeply personal to the Browns and also more broadly applicable to families who love and care and listen and talk. Phil Cowan was immensely watchable as Pat Brown, and captured the weary process of wrestling with life and death decisions capably. Kudos to Buck Busfield for bringing this play to the stage right now, with the November initiatives, and Jerry Brown's last two years as governor, playing out in real life. The play inspires me to think about my feelings about the death penalty, to learn more about how the Chessman case changed our laws, and to reflect on the Brown dynasty as it nears an end. I hope B Street will extend this play. And, I hope other theaters will pick it up in the future. Sure, it's a very Californian story, but a play this good should work anywhere. It's perhaps the best show I've seen at B Street. Congratulations and thanks.
  8. CR
    The cast of Chessman did a masterful job bringing to life the writing of Joe Rodota. As a non-Californian, I was intrigued by the story of Caryl Chessman and the gripping drama that unfolds in the Governor's Mansion. A fine play with even greater potential.
  9. Chessman was well produced with a tightly woven narrative that keeps your attention the entire time. Truly one of the best plays I've ever seen. I'd like to see the show expand globally as the timeless plot line is applicable and relevant anywhere. First rate!
  10. Energetic and smart!
  11. Fabulous play! I wish it had a longer engagement, so we could go see it again. Phil Cowan, & Eason Donner were riveting.
  12. The play is a tight, skillful dramatization of a mostly-forgotten, but pivotal moment in California history. Joe Rodota has meticulously reconstructed the story, using contemporary writings. The script and the actors managed to infuse the factual narrative with the emotional aspects of this unique event: Pat Brown's struggle to reconcile the teachings of his faith with his respect for the law, Jerry's idealism, his mother's pragmatism and the creepy but compelling persona of Caryl Chessman. Masterfully done.
  13. A very taught political drama, Chessman kept me engaged the entire time. The characters were memorable, and over the last week I've often thought back to scenes from the play. I'd highly recommend seeing this show at it's next venue, wherever that may be. B Street was a good space for this, and the direction and set design were smart and professional. Joe Rodota's script was humorous, poignant, and concise. Well done!
  14. Too short of a run. Will it come back?

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