- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 4, 2002

OPENING
Hamlet Stanislavsky Theater Studio. Shakespeare's classic portrait of the melancholy Dane. Opens tomorrow at Church Street Theater. 202/265-3748.
Love Makes Things Happen Morris A. Mechanic Theatre. A woman in an ill-fated relationship meets the man who may change her life in a new musical with songs by Babyface. Opens Tuesday. 410/752-1200.

NOW PLAYING
Hedwig and the Angry Inch Signature Theatre ****. Think you couldn't have anything in common with a drag queen with a spectacularly unsuccessful sex-change operation? Think again. Once one gets beyond the blond wigs and glitter makeup, the punk posturing and the platform boots, this is a story about love. Although there are elements of drag, "Hedwig" has more genuine emotions than the outrageousness of camp. Rick Hammerly is tremendous as Hedwig. He emerges first as a drama queen and entertaining as all get-out, until he begins to reveal sides of himself as he strips off his costumes and gets to the real Hedwig, who turns out to be complete, after all. Mr. Hammerly has an authentic rock voice, and he handles the androgyny of Hedwig's character with style and flash. He is backed up ably by the Angry Inch band, which performs the rocking score that encompasses heavy metal, punk, country-rock, ballads and the occasional torch song. Through May 5. 800/955-5566. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
Hot Mikado Ford's Theatre ****. Ford's Theatre hits the jackpot with this adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan's classic musical. The jazz score (inspired by Duke Ellington and other jazz greats) swings, the funny lines crackle, the singing soars, and the acting and dancing are brilliant. The 20-member cast is tight in all of their 22 dance and song numbers. The land of Titi-Pu, the fairytale Japanese-inspired town where the story unfolds, is expertly created by stage designer Daniel Proett. Director and choreographer David Bell has created a slammin' production, with lots of goodies for both eye and ear. Through June 16. 703/218-6500 tickets; 202/347-4833 information. Reviewed by Gabriella Boston.
Oleanna Source Theatre ***-1/2. "Oleanna" is quite possibly David Mamet's most anti-woman play. Still, director Wendy C. Goldberg manages to make this story of a perceived-victim-turned-victimizer palatable absorbing, even. Holly Twyford as Carol, a confused college student struggling for survival in one of her classes, does a good job of transforming Carol from a dazed supplicant to a feminist mouthpiece with the help of a women's group. Rick Foucheux, who was so explosive in Source Theatre's production of Mr. Mamet's "American Buffalo" last year, is convincing as her initially condescending professor who, once the roles have shifted, must plead for an explanation. The strength of Miss Goldberg's direction and the performances are what make this slippery game so engaging. Through Sunday. 202/462-1073. Reviewed by Carol Johnson.
Prometheus Studio Theatre **. My, how the mighty have fallen. The denizens of Mount Olympus are reduced to a bunch of malcontents in this adaptation by Sophy Burnham of Aeschylus' towering Greek tragedy, ghided by Studio artistic chief Joy Zinoman. Where are the characters larger than life and the hubris that is so magnified and magnificent in the gods and the immortals? Where is the thunderous language that resounds across the ages, language so stark and ideal we could have imagined it once touched by the divine spark? Tragically, none of this is evident in "Prometheus." We are left with only ashes and echoes, both painful to endure. Through April 28. 202/332-3300. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
She Stoops to Conquer Folger Theatre **-1/2. Oliver Goldsmith's "She Stoops to Conquer," considered one of the masterpieces of 18th-century theater, is a breezy commentary on English life circa 1773. Although director Richard Clifford's pacing is steady, several spirited but ultimately disappointing performances weaken the production. Through Sunday. 202/544-7077. Reviewed by Eric M. 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. Continues indefinitely. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Nelson Pressley.
True West Arena Stage **-1/2. Sam Shepard's 1980 play once gave off hints of danger in its tale of dysfunctional brothers competing as screenwriters in Hollywood. We've seen so much dysfunction since then that it's not surprising that Arena Stage with Woolly Mammoth Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz directing the production goes for the laughs. The production has no element of danger or duel-to-the-death energy that once made Mr. Shepard's play dark as well as darkly funny. The two losers don't seem particularly terrifying, either to the world at large or to each other and there's no reason we should take their antics seriously. Through Sunday. 202/488-4377. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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