- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Though Early American portraitist Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) is noted for his portraits of George Washington — made most famous by one of Washington’s images on U.S. dollar bills — he painted other prominent American and English personalities, as his retrospective at the National Gallery of Art shows. Organized by the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the survey includes such well-known Stuart works as the Washington portraits, “The Skater (William Grant),” “Martha Washington” and “John Adams.” At the West Building, National Gallery of Art, Constitution Avenue at Fourth Street NW, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays through July 31. Free. 202/737-4215.

— Joanna Shaw-Eagle

Omnium Gatherum, at the Olney Theatre Center for the Arts, is a clever and sophisticated variation on the parlor game “Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?” It’s a feast of wit and haute cuisine as a Martha Stewart-esque hostess assembles a crazy quilt of guests for a surreal dinner party in post-September 11 New York. Among the types, played by a fine ensemble: Middle Eastern scholar, vegan feminist peacenik, heroic New York firefighter, curse-hurling Arab terrorist. This “peculiar collection of souls” holds forth on everything from “Star Trek” episodes to the Israel-Palestine question, anything to keep away the darkness and panic pervading their lives since September 11, 2001. Halo Wines directs with master-chef skill, keeping the action buoyant and light while allowing for the play’s more serious aspects — its treatment of moral issues and incendiary cultural clashes — to permeate here and there. Take a seat at the table and enjoy. Through May 8. Tickets $29 to $39. 301/924-3400.

— Jayne Blanchard

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