- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Designs of flowers make up the patterns of many Oriental rugs, and the Textile Museum currently shows their use in cultures as different as India, China, Persia, Turkey and Central Asia. In the handsome exhibition Floral Perspectives in Carpet Design, the museum shows how these cultures sent spiritual, artistic and cultural messages through these carpets, which date from the 17th through the 19th centuries. Twelve of them come from the museum’s permanent collections. At the Textile Museum, 2320 S St. NW. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 6. Free, with a suggested donation of $5. 202/667-0441.

— Joanna Shaw-Eagle

M. Butterfly premiered in Washington in 1988, when theater audiences were still relatively naive about gender blending. The shock value may have worn off, but Arena’s excellent revival remains powerful and wrenching. David Henry Hwang’s Tony-winning play is based on a true story, that of a French diplomat in China who carried on a 20-year affair with a Chinese opera singer, claiming never to have known that “she” was a “he” and a spy for Communist China to boot. The diplomat’s moral and psychological disintegration is almost painful to watch, as Stephen Bogardus’ Rene Gallimard goes from dominant male to tragic heroine, complete with fluttery hand gestures and eyes cast heavenward. Newcomer J. Hiroyuki Liao holds the audience spellbound through opera singer Song Liling’s almost absurd femininity, becoming in Act 2 a cruel, braying taunter in an Armani suit. Fichandler Stage at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Through Oct. 17. $45 to $59. 202/488-3300.

— Jayne Blanchard

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