- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 12, 2005

OPENING

• The Death of Meyerhold — Studio Theatre Secondstage. Based on the spectacular life and death of Russian theater artist Vsevolod Meyerhold, whose avant-garde work flouted Stalin’s regime. Opens Wednesday. 202/332-3300.

• Lorenzaccio — The Shakespeare Theatre. Lorenzo de Medici is Alfred de Musset’s bold and broad character in this tale of political intrigue, moral dilemmas and individual heroism. Opens Tuesday. 202/547-1122.

• On the Record — The National Theatre. Disney’s new musical features performances of more than 50 songs from its most popular films. Opens Tuesday. 800/447-7400.

NOW PLAYING

• Black Milk — Studio Theatre — ***. Bile surges through Vassily Sigarev’s pungent 2003 play about the struggle of the spirit in post-Soviet Russia, a “Wild West” kind of place where the outlaws rule. In a grimy railway station in the provinces, husband-and-wife scam artists from Moscow try to get back to the city after successfully fleecing the local yokels. But when massively pregnant wife Shura (a frightening Holly Twyford) bears their daughter, Shura goes soft on the locals who help her. Menacing husband Lyovchik (Matthew Montelongo, in an electrifying performance) beats her back to her harder self. If this is a parable of Russia, the country seems fated to be reborn in darkness. Through Feb. 13. 202/332-3300. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Elmina’s Kitchen — Center Stage — ***. The American premiere of Kwame Kwei-Armah’s sobering play about West Indian immigrants living in a London neighborhood known for its polyglot gangs and its “Murder Mile.” Set in a woebegone takeout shop, it’s a frank cautionary tale about how the cycle of violence dehumanizes generation after generation, with dialogue full of linguistic fireworks. Some of the speeches go off on aimless tangents, but with a playwright this exciting, you can forgive a little chattiness. Mr. Kwei-Armah gives us a heady glimpse into a culture caught between African-Caribbean tradition and assimilation into a white man’s world. Through Jan. 30 at 700 N. Calvert St., Baltimore. 410/332-0033. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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