- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 30, 2007

OPENING

• Dead Man’s Cell Phone — Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. A lonely woman answers a stranger’s cell phone and finds herself the guardian of his memory. Opens Monday. 202/393-3939.

• Hamlet — Shakespeare Theatre Company. Commanded by his father’s ghost to seek revenge, Hamlet struggles with the human and spiritual costs of pursuing justice. Opens Tuesday. 202/547-1122.

• Hamlet … The Rest Is Silence — Synetic Theater. The story of Hamlet is told through the art of silence in this adaption of Shakespeare’s play. Opens tonight at the Kennedy Center. 703/824-6200.

• The Witches of Eastwick — Signature Theatre. Three unhappy women innocently conjure up their perfect man; their dreams come true when he arrives, but only one woman can have him. Opens Tuesday. 703/820-7790.

NOW PLAYING

• Blue/Orange — Theater Alliance — **1/2. An unhealthy obsession with oranges and a conviction that he’s Idi Amin’s son lead a London fruit vendor of African-Caribbean descent to be arrested and sent to a mental health facility. In Joe Penhall’s play, the vendor’s delusions become the battleground between a dedicated intern and his supervisor, who sees racism in the intern’s finding of schizophrenia. The acting is full of pyrotechnics, the dialogue is rapid-fire, and the atmosphere is tense, but it comes off as hot-air psychobabble and more of a blustering power game than a probing inquiry into labeling the mentally ill. Good acting can compensate only so much for one-dimensional characters that remain undeveloped. Through Sunday at H Street Playhouse. 202/396-0050.

• Either Or — Theater J — **1/2. Australian writer Thomas Keneally, author of the book behind the movie “Schindler’s List,” tries his hand at playwriting with this examination of one Nazi’s struggle to reconcile duty and morality. Kurt Gerstein (Paul Morella) was a brilliant chemist who helped develop the gas that killed Jews in Nazi concentration camps; he was also a Lutheran of conscience who tried to alert the Allies and the Vatican to the atrocities. Here Gerstein comes across not as a restless saint who evokes our sympathy, but as a self-serving man who tries to cleanse himself of the blood on his hands. Full of exposition and narrative in the first act, the play offers no emotional entry until the second half. And the scenes of searing, speechless intensity don’t make up for it. Through Sunday at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. 800/494-8497.

• Ennio — Arena Stage — ***. The art of Italian clown Ennio Marchetto is a goofball pastiche of origami, pantomime and high camp, and this one-man show is a child’s sticker book brought to colorful life, with Mr. Marchetto as the biggest paper doll of them all. With reams of paper, bits of strategically placed Velcro, and some tissue, Mr. Marchetto whips us willy-nilly through 20th-century pop culture by transforming himself into its icons, from Sinatra to Madonna and the whole drag-queen pantheon. The show rarely goes beyond the level of novelty, but it’s fast-moving, mindless fun — and just when you think you can’t endure one more set of bouncy fake breasts made out of construction paper, it’s over. Through June 10. 202/488-3300.

• The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) — MetroStage — ****. Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart’s melodic and pun-filled parody of Broadway titans — Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jerry Herman and Kander and Ebb — is an unabashed joy for devotees of musical theater. Directed with tongue-in-cheek razzle-dazzle by Larry Kaye, MetroStage’s peppy production gives you plenty of reasons to do the old soft shoe. In fact, you’ll probably want to return a few times to catch the stuff you might have missed from laughing too hard. Through Sunday. 800/494-8497.

• The Oracle — African Continuum Theatre Company — **. This allegorical fable about a young African princess named Charlotte who sets off to find the god who made her father king is visually striking but emotionally subdued. Written by Ed Shockley and based on a George Bernard Shaw story, the tale involves Charlotte in some harrowing adventures before she makes her way home, meeting on the way entities represented mainly by African-mask wooden puppets. Erika Rose is a lively, sinewy presence as Charlotte. But the puppets are clumsily wielded, the masks are not put to dramatic use, and the dialogue is long-winded and Byzantine. The play shows off the capabilities of the Atlas’ new Sprenger Theatre, but the production seems small, emotionally stiff and uninspiring. Through Sunday at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. 202/529-5763.

• Peter & Wendy — Arena Stage — ***. Mabou Mines’ production of J.M. Barrie’s novel, adapted with a breathless sense of wonder by Liza Lorwin, underscores the melancholy and poignant aspects of that tale of enchantment and stolen children. It’s brooding and profoundly magical. Karen Kandel, a narrator of infinite grace and nimbly comic voices, tells the story surrounded by veiled puppeteers, the whole set to Celtic music. The charm of the three-hour piece wears thin in scenes, and some of the puppetry manipulation is awkward, but it’s a heady, cerebral experience on many levels. Through June 24. 202/488-3300.

• Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead — Studio Theatre — **1/2. Feelings of deja vu turn quickly to moments of fresh delight in this 40th anniversary revival of Tom Stoppard’s brainiac existential comedy about two minor characters from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” waiting in the wings for all eternity. A masterful centerpiece performance by veteran actor Floyd King as the Player King is enhanced by a fantastic supporting cast of tragedians. Yet the portrayals of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are almost generic interpretations, and the production overall seems as airless and trapped as the main characters themselves. Through June 24. 202/332-3300.

• The Tempest — Folger Theatre — ***. This unusual production, directed by Aaron Posner, features highly evocative special effects and fiddles with the cast of characters, almost eliminating comic figures to better focus on the principals. It’s a thoughtful evening of theater, presenting the Bard’s work as a moral, if ambiguous, treatise on peace, acceptance and forgiveness. Veteran Shakespeare fans will miss the emotional piquancy they have come to expect in this play. Through June 17. 202/544-7077.— T.L. Ponick

• Things of Dry Hours — Center Stage — ***. Naomi Wallace’s play is a poetic, romantic and politically explosive look at the role of Southern blacks in the American Communist movement of the 1930s. The play often has the dry, pedantic air of a lecture, so wordy it makes “Das Kapital” seem like a text message. Yet Miss Wallace layers the play in evocative language that is almost biblical in its intricate structure and rapturous style. Some of the scenes sizzle, and the acting is accomplished. Through Sunday at 700 N. Calvert St., Baltimore. 410/332-0033. • 13 Rue de L’Amour — Olney Theatre Center — *. Jeffries Thaiss, Lawrence Redmond, Nick de Pinto and Halo Wines add pizzazz to Georges Feydeau’s pouf-less and insipid French farce, the infidelities of well-to-do couples and their paramours. But their talents cannot resuscitate a show that never manages to elicit even a soupcon of laughs. It’s a classic case of a bad play happening to good actors. Through June 10. 301/924-3400. MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide