The Comedy of Errors ETC and Globo Stage. A bilingual (English and Spanish) version of Shakespeare’s comedy about reunited twins. Opens tonight at the Rosslyn Spectrum. 703/271-0222.
The Gift Catholic University Theater Department. New musical take on O. Henry’s holiday tale about two lovers who give up their prized possessions for each other. Opens tonight, runs through Sunday. 202/319-4000.
A Raisin in the Sun Center Stage. Confrontations ensue after a poor Chicago family inherits $10,000 in insurance money during the 1950s. Opens tonight. 410/332-0033.
She Loves Me Olney Theatre Center. Two lonely shop clerks unwittingly fall in love through a pen pal service. Opens Saturday. 301/924-3400.
A Tuna Christmas Warner Theatre. Comedians Joe Sears and Jaston Williams bring the town of Tuna, Texas to life through 22 characters. Opens Wednesday. 202/432-SEAT.
Eleanor: Her Secret Journey Kreeger Theatre *** hoda Lerman’s one-woman play, starring Jean Stapleton of “All in the Family” fame, focuses on the former first lady’s life after FDR how she coped with what life threw at her and learned to think for herself and trust her perceptions and opinions. Miss Stapleton adeptly captures the fluty and upper-crusty voice of Mrs. Roosevelt and her delicately wily mannerisms. What charms and inspires you about this show is how the ugly-duckling Mrs. Roosevelt made a magnificent life where looks were irrelevant. Through Sunday. 202/488-4377. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard
Home Round House Theatre ***. Samm-Art Williams’ play “Home,” written in the mid-1970s, is more a fable than a play, with predictable plot points and a happy ending you can see coming from the Beltway. Yet the dynamic cast possesses such energetic inventiveness and director Thomas W. Jones II maintains such a whirligig pace that the production glosses right over the rough spots. The work charts the “I was lost, but now I’m found” progression of Cephus Miles, a black man from a farming family in the tiny town of Crossroads, N.C., a dot on the map that is thick with colorful characters. Cephus goes North, ends up homeless, and returns to the farm to realize the land has been waiting for his touch all this time. The message is that we all need a place to return to, where we can be our true selves. Mature audiences. Through Dec. 2. 301/217-3300. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
Macbeth Folger Shakespeare Library ***. In director Joe Banno’s staging, Shakespeare’s “Scottish play” becomes a tale of political corruption in circa 1960 Louisiana. King Duncan (Tom Quinn) thus becomes an elected politician, and certainly the most clever moment comes in the first scene, when instead of casting spells, the witches are counting ballots by holding them up to the light recalling the Florida recounts of last year. The cast is solid, as one might expect from the Folger. Michael Tolaydo as Macbeth Duncan’s lieutenant, who is disappointed when Duncan names his son as heir is every inch an American Democrat. He is in fine form as he descends into despair and nihilism, with mannerisms that seem particularly inspired. Of the supporting players, Scot McKenzie is unnervingly good as Duncan’s heir, Malcolm. Mr. Banno’s interpretation is commendable in many ways and undeniably well-executed. It is irretrievably limited, though, by its circumstances. Since September 11 a bloodless, lawyer-dominated struggle over the presidency doesn’t seem so terribly important. Even the dullest spectator must admit that concluding a play with a good sword fight is more grand than what we have here: a “Reservoir Dogs”-style shootout. Through Dec. 2. 202/544-7077. Reviewed by Eric M. Johnson.
My Presidential Journal Warehouse Theater ***. Rick Fiori’s comedy is the neurotic and nearly hilarious narrative of Devon McGuire, a Washington native played by Mr. Fiori, who also wrote “Journal.” It introduces more than 40 characters played by five actors who inhabited Washington during the 36 days of madness that followed election night last November. Sketch after riotous sketch explores the relationships between Democrats and Republicans, nailing life in the nation’s capital. The black-box set and simple props come to life through magnificent and well-timed choreography. Speedy, almost surreal, scene changes and a steady flow of comic action produce an alacrity, gripping the curtainless stage for a full 80 minutes.The play’s one downfall is that at times the scene changes are a bit too drastic. Through Nov. 27. 202/783-3933. Reviewed by Guy Taylor.
Nathan the Wise Theater of the First Amendment **1/2. Paul D’Andrea’s play, adapted from a work by G.E. Lessing, takes up the issue of religious tolerance in Jerusalem during a truce in the Third Crusade. The question it poses: Can’t we all just get along? The answer it offers: We can, as long as no one claims to have “the one true faith.” Islam is represented by Saladin (Craig Wallace), a progressive Muslim warrior prince who holds power in Jerusalem; Christianity by Heraklios (Ralph Cosham), a patriarch who needs to be convinced of his faith; and Judaism by the businessman Nathan (Mitchell Hebert), who proves his wisdom as he goes on trial before Saladin and Heraklios, where he is asked what the one true faith is. The plot is full of twists and fateful turns and moves along quickly under the direction of Tom Prewitt. Through Sunday at Theater Space, George Mason University. 703/218-6500. Reviewed by Carol Johnson.
To Kill a Mockingbird Ford’s Theatre *1/2. Because millions of schoolchildren have read Harper Lee’s play the past four decades, most audience members have some familiarity with the book and bring some expectations to the play. They are likely to be disappointed with this adaptation by Christopher Sergel. Squeezing the novel into 100 minutes of action destroys the languid pace Miss Lee used to great effect. Director Timothy Childs has the actors recite their lines too quickly, and the actors don’t even have time to respond to one another. Miss Lee truly loved the people she wrote about, seeing them as decent but stained by the racism of their culture. Because of the breakneck pace and desultory character development, we barely get to see them as people. Through Sunday. $703/218-6500 or 202/347-4833. Reviewed by Eric Johnson
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. The audience-participation murder-mystery farce (set in a Georgetown hair salon) is well-played, though, 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.
Zander’s Boat Signature Theatre **1/2. This American premiere of Grace Barnes’ play is all about storytelling, as three women who live on Shetland, a bleak and remote Scottish island, recount their hopes and regrets. Their narratives are vivid, their words gorgeous. Yet with no real interaction among them and little in the way of action, “Zander’s Boat” eventually is swamped in a static sea. Through Dec. 9. 800/955-5566. Reviewed by Carol Johnson.
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS