- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 11, 2001

OPENING

A Chorus Line American University's Experimental Theater. Struggling dancers hope to make it big on Broadway. Opens Wednesday. 202/885-2587.
Cloudstreet Company B Belvoir and Black Swan Theatre. Two rural families grow close over three generations after moving to the city. Opens tomorrow, runs through Sunday at the Kennedy Center. 202/467-4600.
Couldn't Say Charter Theatre. A couple is forced to re-examine its marriage after becoming stranded in a snowstorm. Opens Wednesday at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. 202/333-7009.
The Pajama Game Center Stage. Love and labor disputes in a pajama factory. Opens tomorrow. 410/332-0033.
The Vagina Monologues National Theatre. Eve Ensler's stories celebrating women. Opens Tuesday

NOW PLAYING

To Kill a Mockingbird Ford's Theatre *1/2. Because millions of schoolchildren have read Harper Lee's play the past four decades, most audience members have some familiarity with the book and bring some expectations to the play. They are likely to be disappointed with this adaptation by Christopher Sergel. Squeezing the novel into 100 minutes of action destroys the languid pace that Miss Lee used to great effect. Director Timothy Childs has the actors recite their lines too quickly, and the actors don't even have time to respond to one another. Miss Lee truly loved the people she wrote about, seeing them as decent but stained by the racism of their culture. Because of the breakneck pace and desultory character development, we barely get to see them as people. Through Nov. 18. $703/218-6500 or 202/347-4833. Reviewed by Eric Johnson
The Oedipus Plays The Shakespeare Theatre ***. Artistic Director Michael Kahn has crafted a blazing, immediate production of "The Oedipus Plays" by Sophocles, and has masterfully compressed "Oedipus Rex," "Oedipus at Colonus" and "Antigone" into a single theater experience. Using a new translation by Nicholas Rudal which is so plain-speaking at times the shades of humor shine through and a sun-deepened North African setting and palette, "The Oedipus Plays" are a far cry from the declamatory speeches and togas we normally associate with Greek tragedy. From the almost dancing colors of Charles McClennahan's rough stone and hammered gold set to the tribal-ritualistic singing and movements of the chorus, this show really flies. The pacing is swift and absolute as the various characters march toward their destinies. Avery Brooks plays Oedipus with a rich, rumbly baritone and a swagger befitting a king. "The Oedipus Plays" are a worthwhile experience, especially for Mr. Brooks' performance, the stupendous look of the production, and the opportunity to see three classic Greek plays in a single day. Through Oct. 21. 202/547-1122. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
Rocket to the Moon Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Theater J ****. Times are tough for everyone during a steamy New York summer in 1938, especially for a middle-aged dentist with a paralyzing fear of doing the wrong thing. Trapped in a loveless marriage to a shrewish wife but teased by the possibility of an affair with his young secretary, he gives in but not before struggling mightily. Clifford Odets' play is an indictment of marriage, which it likens to death. But this fabulous co-production, crisply paced under director Grover Gardner, looks at more than the moral struggles of a marriage on the rocks. What is the moral obligation people have to themselves? To love? And what is the obligation of a government when children and sick old women are going hungry? The play makes broad social commentary and small observances about husbands and wives, but does it with belly laughs and those ripple over an undercurrent of despair. Who knew such lyricism could exist in a dentist's office? Blessed with a standout cast, "Rocket to the Moon" is a wild ride, one that deserves a return ticket. Through Sunday at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. 800/494-8497. Reviewed by Carol Johnson.
Shear Madness Kennedy Center Theater Lab **. This corny, hokey tourist trap now in its second decade is doubly maddening because the Kennedy Center displays it as art to the cultural center's unsuspecting pilgrims. But the audience-participation murder-mystery farce (set in a Georgetown hair salon) is well-played when the actors refrain from mugging and cracking up one another. The audience rambunctiously analyzes evidence and chooses the murderer in this campy, shtick-filled goof. Continues indefinitely. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Nelson Pressley.
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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