- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2005

OPENING

• Intimations for Saxophone — Fichandler Theater, Arena Stage. Lily Laird finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage during the life-of-excess Jazz Age. Opens tomorrow. 202/488-3300.

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, then 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 take-out 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 do 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 North Calvert St., Baltimore. 410/332-0033. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Tea and Sympathy — American Century Theater — ***. Robert Anderson’s 1954 play was shocking in its day for its treatment of homophobia as well as for the notion that a lonely 30-ish woman could find comfort in the arms of an equally lonely 17-year-old boy. The play is notable for its almost demure portrayal of those who don’t fit in — in this case an artistic adolescent at a roughhouse boys’ prep school in New England where anyone who is “different” is systematically bullied. He finds a soul mate in the headmaster’s wife, caught in a sham of a marriage. American Century Theater emphasizes the play’s genteel aspects with a tasteful treatment that won’t rattle the teacups. Through Feb. 5 at Theater II, Gunston Arts Center. 703/553-8782. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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