- The Washington Times - Friday, June 5, 2009

NOW PLAYING

ArcadiaFolger Theatre — ★★★★ Director Aaron Posner’s dazzling production is a spring tonic for the soul, a reminder of why we love theater and of the intellect and heart of playwright Tom Stoppard. Written in 1993, “Arcadia” is quintessential Stoppard, a hybrid of highbrow ideas. These include fads in landscape gardening, chaos theory, English algebra, the nature of genius, Lord Byron and the second law of thermodynamics as well as the complications that inevitably arise from carnal embrace. Through June 21. 202/544-7077.

Design for LivingShakespeare Theatre Company at the Lansburgh — ★★★ Playwright Noel Coward combines bons mots and nerviness in his 1933 comedy, a hard-edged jewel of a play stunningly staged by artistic director Michael Kahn — who celebrates the wit and glamour of the piece without sacrificing its serious undertones. Audacious in its day, the play revels in the sexual renegades immersed in a menage a trois. The shocking part of “Design for Living” today is not so much the sexual politics but the blithe cruelty of the threesome’s behavior. Through June 28. 202/547-1122.

Legacy of LightArena Stage — ★★½ In a way, it’s unfortunate that the dazzling production of “Arcadia” at the Folger is running at the same time as Karen Zacarias’ world premiere of “Legacy of Light.” Both plays involve the mingling of past and present and deal with the disparate passions for love and learning. Yet where Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia” is a masterwork of erudition and heartache, “Legacy of Light” is more flat-footed in its melding of the mysteries of the universe and mathematics with matters of the heart. Through June 14. 202/488-3300.

A Midsummer Night’s DreamSynetic Theater at the Kennedy Center’s Family Theater — ★★★½ If you’re going to profane the Bard, you might as well have fun with it, and Synetic Theater’s cheeky take is delightfully mischievous while also retaining the comedy’s romance and magic. Adapter Ben Cunis and director Paata Tsikurishvili distill the play into four acts and 90 minutes, and the result combines visual splendor, astonishing movement and exceptional music by Konstantine Lortkipandze. Synetic’s “Midsummer” is rife with mystical beauty. The scenes of the fairies attending to Titania (Irina Tsikurishvili) and the shimmery dances between her and Oberon (Philip Fletcher) exude Oriental flair. The exoticism is also enhanced by Alex Mills’ extraordinary portrayal of Puck. Through June 14. 800/444/1324.

Radio GolfStudio Theatre — ★★★ The final installment in August Wilson’s 10-play cycle depicting black life throughout the 20th century, completed just before his death in 2005, takes place in 1997. Directed by Ron Himes, the production is rendered with a sincerity that does not completely capture the play’s dynamism. “Golf” takes place in Pittsburgh’s Hill District — the setting of many of Mr. Wilson’s plays — and depicts wealthy upper-class blacks striving to become richer and more powerful. Harmond Wilks (Walter Coppage) aspires to be the city’s first black mayor, and his social-climbing friend and business partner Roosevelt Hicks (Kim Sullivan) wants to be a radio magnate as well as head honcho for their urban-redevelopment project — which would raze much of the community. Nothing seems to stand in their way, except that one of the houses slated for demolition is 1839 Wylie Ave. — which fans of Mr. Wilson’s plays will remember as the home of Aunt Ester, the neighborhood healer who was as old as slavery. Through June 28. 202/332-3300.

Rock ‘n’ RollStudio Theatre — ★★★★ Playwright Tom Stoppard gives anarchy a righteous beat in this sublime play, which melds his love of wordplay, cerebral characters and rock music of the 1960s and ‘70s. The play goes between Cambridge and Prague in the intertwining stories of an academic, ivory-tower communist Max (Ted van Griethuysen), and Jan (Stafford Clark-Price), a Czech intellectual and reserved revolutionary. Through June 21. 202/332-3300.

The Woman Who Amuses HerselfTheatre Alliance — ★★★ Playwright Victor Lodato is the latest to fall under the spell of “Mona Lisa” in this entrancing play, featuring Nigel Reed in a virtuoso one-man performance. Based on a true incident, the play centers on a house painter and glazier at the Louvre who steals the famous painting one morning in 1911. Through Saturday. 866/811-4111.

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

Compiled by Jayne Blanchard

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide