- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 23, 2001

OPENING
Guys and Dolls Wolf Trap Filene Center. A hard-core gambler bets on his ability to woo an innocent social worker in this classic musical. Opens Tuesday. 703/218-6500.
The Oedipus Plays The Shakespeare Theatre. Single-night adaptation of the Sophocles trilogy about the tragic fall of King Oedipus and his family. Opens Tuesday. 202/547-1122.
Rocket to the Moon Theater J. Clifford Odets' tale of a lovelorn dentist struggling with romantic temptation during the Great Depression. Opens Monday at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. 800/494-8497.

NOW PLAYING

Late Nite Catechism West End Theatre - ***. The chalkboard is littered with terms such as "Immaculate Conception," "stigmata," "Easter duty," "limbo" and "purgatory," and the classroom is filled with people of all ages. Jodi Capeless stars as the instructor in this motley classroom, in which audience members serve as the students. She combines doses of the rigid discipline of the habit pre-1950s with some 21st-century understanding, if not tolerance. She isn't quite brusque enough, though. Despite its shortfalls and much of the script's predictability, "Catechism" offers a refreshing, somewhat lighthearted look at otherwise serious subject matter. Through Sept. 16. 703/573-SEAT, 202/432-SEAT or 301/808-6900. Reviewed by Stephanie K. Taylor.
The Muckle Man Source Theatre **. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's new play attempts with some audacity to sew together pieces of domestic drama, folkloric fairy tale and science-fiction thriller. But the stitches are clearly visible and more than a little distracting as a mystery man emerges from the sea to complicate the lives of a Newfoundland family that has been plunged into grief following a son's drowning. Mr. Aguirre-Sacasa works double time to build the tension, but then squanders much of the carefully constructed mystery. As directed by Joe Banno, the play lurches along in several scenes. Brian Keating's sound design captures wonderfully the hypnotic monotony and power of the pounding surf, and, tellingly, its relentlessness. Through Sunday. 202/462-1073. Reviewed by Carol Johnson.
The Pirates of Penzance Interact Theatre Company ***. This production, also billed as "The Picaroons of the Potomac," is a summer treat although it takes a while to get its first act together. "Pirates," written in 1879, is one of the best-loved Gilbert and Sullivan scores. Catherine Flye, the director as well as Interact's artistic director, has set the play in late-18-century Virginia instead of late-19th-century England. Thus, Maj. Gen. Stanley becomes Gen. Boshington, who lives at Vernon Castle in Alexandria. (Get it?) The pirates no longer are from Penzance, but from Potomac. The policemen are turned into militiamen dressed up like British infantrymen, red coats and all. This does not detract from the play, but it doesn't add much, either. Although he suffers under a questionable makeup job, Andrew Wynn's Boshington is the comedic center of the play. Through Sept. 9 at the Folger Theatre. 703/218-6500. Reviewed by Eric M. Johnson.
Plenty Potomac Theatre Project ** 1/2. Playwright David Hare explores passionately what post-World War II life is like for one British woman who was active in the French Resistance during the war. Susan Traherne (Megan West) sees her idealism crumble in the wake of the stupefying boredom she experiences in postwar England in the late 1940s and 1950s. She becomes a dissenter with nowhere to protest, so instead, she turns inward, wreaking havoc with all who come in contact with her. "Plenty" is an engrossing play, not just because of its examination of the effect of the war on women, but because of what it shows us about ourselves. Mr. Hare seems to be telling us that an unexpressed life is not worth living. One wishes the production stood up as well as the play. Director Jim Petosa does away with the play's short, striking pace by drawing out the scene changes with elaborate gimmicks that do not add to our understanding. The ending gets the same overblown treatment. "Plenty" has plenty of beauty of its own and does not need much adornment. Through Sunday at the Olney Theatre Center for the Arts. 301/924-3400. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
Shear Madness Kennedy Center Theater Lab **. This corny, hokey tourist trap now in its second decade is doubly maddening because the Kennedy Center displays it as art to the cultural center's unsuspecting pilgrims. But the audience-participation murder-mystery farce (set in a Georgetown hair salon) is well-played when the actors refrain from mugging and cracking up one another. The audience rambunctiously analyzes evidence and chooses the murderer in this campy, shtick-filled goof. Continues indefinitely. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Nelson Pressley.

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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