- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 2, 2004

OPENING

• Fathers and Sons — Stanislavsky Theater Studio. Brian Friel’s adaptation of Turgenev’s novel recreates provincial Russia in the 19th century. Opens tomorrow. 800/494-8497.

• The Lost Ones — Scena Theatre. One man’s Dantean voyage into the netherworld, by Irish Nobel laureate Samuel Beckett. Opens Wednesday at the Warehouse Next Door. 703/684-7990.

• On the Rocks — The Washington Stage Guild. The George Bernard Shaw comedy that features a head of government who spends all his time listening to people who protest his policies. Opens tonight. 240/582-0050.

m Yellowman — Arena Stage, Kreeger Theater. Star-crossed lovers try to stay together in spite of a racial divide. Opens tomorrow. 202/488-3300.

NOW PLAYING

• Henry IV, Part I — The Shakespeare Theatre — **1/2. This play is more about the wayward Prince Hal’s ripening into a leader than about his father, the monarch. But Ted van Griethuysen’s canny portrayal of the career carouser Falstaff and Andrew Long’s caustic, hair-trigger portrait of the rebel Hotspur steal the show. The two actors bring such originality and vitality to their roles that the rest of the production suffers in comparison. Christopher Kelly as Prince Hal never quite takes us inside Hal’s nature, and thus his maturation is never quite convincing. Other than Keith Baxter’s astute and keenly measured performance as the guilt-haunted King Henry IV, the rest of the production is largely workmanlike and uninspired. Through March 13. 202/547-1122. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• A Man’s a Man — Arena Stage Fichandler Theater — **. Bertolt Brecht’s early attempt at revolutionizing theater is a grab bag of styles and conventions, ranging from Weimar Republic-style cabaret and silent-movie hijinks to Monty Python-style absurdist humor and lofty philosophical musings on what a piece of work man is. Yet it is the nothingness of this play that numbs you — not to mention that this ironic comedy is just not funny enough to sustain its two-hour-plus length. Amusing bits here and there help to alleviate the bloat, but it cannot save this queasy hybrid of over-seriousness and crass humor. Through Sunday. 202/488-3300. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Filler Up! — Metro Stage — ***. Comedian Deb Filler plays 27 different characters while singing, performing and baking a challah from a recipe given her by her father, a Holocaust survivor who became a baker in New Zealand. She zestfully chronicles her lifelong struggle with weight and her feeling like a third-class citizen because her clothing size is not in the single digits. The one-woman show is effervescent with keenly observed vignettes about fat and food, yet its most poignant passage deals with Miss Filler’s tangled emotions involving her father, a good but fat-phobic man whom she loved and for whom she cared as he lay dying of cancer. What a waste it is that a talented, vital person like Miss Filler would have to feel ashamed and inadequate because of her size. But the challah is golden and puffy and perfect. Go ahead, have a piece. Through Sunday. 703/548-9044. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

Studio’s production of Pam Gien’s play, directed with subtle humanity by J.R. Sullivan, arouses both accolades and a sense of urgency. Actress Gin Hammond’s transcendent solo performance is miraculous. She plays more than 20 characters of various ages, genders and ethnicities as she conjures up the parallel lives of whites and blacks in South Africa over 40 years, under apartheid and freed from it. The play is a one-woman show and portrays a small universe, but there is something operatic and epic in scale about “The Syringa Tree.” It is a singular theatrical experience. Through March 14. 202/332-3300. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Vita & Virginia — Rep Stage — ***. Lovers of language will delight in this epistolary play by English actress Eileen Atkins charting the loving friendship between novelist Virginia Woolf (Paula Gruskiewicz) and writer-gardener Vita Sackville-West (MaryBeth Wise). The relationship was Sapphic — Miss Sackville-West was a highborn free spirit infamous for her dalliances with both sexes — but the allure of the play lies in the spiritual and intellectual. In the women’s letters, words sit on the page as satiny and plump as sweet butter. They chart the course of the relationship, from early wooing to protracted breakup to Woolf’s suicide. Judicious editing would have helped, but the tart, plummy language is worth the time. Through March 22 at Howard County Community College. 410/772-4900. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide