- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 27, 2001

''The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window" has little to do with a sign — or even a window.

The thought-provoking play by Lorraine Hansberry ("A Raisin in the Sun") focuses on the lives of those around the title character and gets into a range of topics, from idealism to politics to social justice. It is being staged by Arlington's American Century Theater.

Sidney Brustein's New York apartment, which he shares with wife Iris (Toni Rae Brotons), provides the 1960s setting.

The play opens with Sidney (Andrew Ross Wynn), a Jewish intellectual, telling his friend Alton (Daniel Ladmirault)) of the loss of his nightclub and describing the weekly newspaper he has just agreed to take over.

Enter Wally (Allen F. Reed), Sidney's friend, who is running for a local political office. Wally asks to be endorsed by Sidney's paper. Sidney refuses, saying he wants no part of politics. His paper will have neither endorsements nor editorials.

Later, Sidney changes his mind and becomes Wally's staunchest supporter and runs the campaign out of the apartment.

Rounding out the cast is Jim Jorgensen as David, the playwright who lives upstairs, and Maura McGinn and Anne Richardson as Iris' sisters, Mavis and Gloria.

Sidney acts as if he knows everything, yet keeps changing his mind. He analyzes what he sees as everyone else's problems, yet he's not observant of their needs.

He oscillates between apathy and activism with Wally's campaign. He splits his time between affectionately nuzzling his wife and belittling her, telling her that she doesn't know anything.

He struggles with his ideals, wanting to be apart from the world. Yet he is drawn deeper and deeper into it as he slowly decides to try to change society.

Miss Brotons, Miss McGinn and Miss Richardson give great performances as the sisters. Each is quite different from the others, yet they are more alike than they realize.

Indeed, almost all the characters display hidden depths that are at odds with their outward appearances. Each battles with stereotypes and preconceived notions of who to be and how to act and react to others in this thought-provoking play.

{*}{*}{*}WHAT: "The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window"WHERE: Theater Two at Gunston Arts Center, 2700 S. Lang St., ArlingtonWHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, through Feb. 3TICKETS: $22 for general admission and $17 for seniors and studentsPHONE: 703/553-8782

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