Thursday, July 4, 2002

Kennedy Center Opera House. Elton John and Tim Rice’s musical take on Verdi’s opera about two princesses in love with the same soldier. Opens Tuesday. 202/467-4600.
Les Cloisons (Partitions)
Le Neon Theatre. A man and a woman in adjacent hotel rooms develop a strange flirtation. Opens tomorrow at Church Street Theatre. 703/243-6366.
The Full Monty
National Theatre. Musical adaptation of the popular film about six unemployed steelworkers who strip for money. Opens Tuesday. 800/447-7400.
The Laramie Project
Olney Theatre Center for the Arts. Dramatization of interviews conducted with the residents of Laramie, Wyo., after the murder of student Matthew Shepard. 301/924-3400.
Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. Popular Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about the rivalry between cattlemen and farmers in turn-of-the-century Oklahoma. Opens tomorrow. 202/467-4600.

Big Love
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company ***. Charles L. Mee’s play, based on Aeschylus’ drama “The Suppliant Women” about 50 sisters pledged since birth to marry 50 brothers, their cousins is one wild toga party that goes off on contemporary tangents about love, masculinity, femininity and justice. The 50 sisters are represented by three who have escaped by boat from Greece on their wedding day and seek refuge in the Italian villa of a wealthy businessman. The grooms pursue them, and the women vow to murder them. This makes for an unusually action-packed reception. The actors hurl themselves into their roles with a mixture of slapstick, acrobatics, performance art and good, old-fashioned wrasslin’. Everything about “Big Love” is as understated as a clown shoe. Through July 21 at the Kennedy Center AFI Theater. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
Born Guilty
Theater J ***. Ari Roth’s haunting play, based on the 1988 book by Austrian Jewish journalist Peter Sichrovsky, investigates the legacy the Nazis left for their children. The protagonist Sichrovsky (Rich Foucheux) pursues the characters as a journalist. Herman Schmidt (Irving Jacobs) is the most compelling. Schmidt, who bought a house formerly owned by Jews from the Nazis for a reduced price, lives with the guilt of doing so. Eight persons play about 30 roles, and it is not immediately clear whether they are continuing a role or introducing a new one. This confusion may represent the overall theme of the play, which shows that each child with Nazi parents faced similar battles. Through July 14. 800/494-TIXS. Reviewed by Jen Waters.
Crazy Love
Old Town Theater **1/2. Mark Anderson thinks comedy today is too raunchy. His antidote is this humorous celebration of the differences between men and women that illustrates the value of long-term commitment. Mr. Anderson, who plays a psychologist, and co-producer John Branyan, who plays his patient, share the stage for most of the production. Gilly Conklin plays the nurse. The whole show is essentially musical banter and a couple of monologues. But these guys are good at it. Through July 28. 703/535-8022. Reviewed by Jon Ward.
Danny and Sylvia
MetroStage **. MetroStage is remounting this American Century Theatre musical, about the life of singer-comedian Danny Kaye and his wife and principal writer, Sylvia Fine, as the final show of its season. The songs are mostly forgettable, and the plot is thin. As Sylvia, Perry Payne outclasses her material, and she leaves the production this week anyway; the role will be taken over by Janine Gulisano. Brian Childers as Danny chews the scenery and overdoes the manic gesticulations. The show provides little more than some sight gags and silly accents. Through July 28. 703/548-9044. Reviewed by Eric M. Johnson.
The Diaries
Signature Theatre **. Playwright John Strand’s exploration of the character of Stefan Altsanger (Edward Gero) a brilliant German scientist and novelist reborn as revered entomologist Steve Alton after the war is sympathetic yet fascinating and complex. The play’s inspiration is, in part, Ernst Junger, a German writer, entomologist and Nazi captain assigned to occupied Paris who kept a diary of his time in France and on the Russian front in the Caucasus. Years later, Alton is confronted by a historian (Daniel Frith) with the diaries Alton thought were destroyed with his past. Alton dissolves away to Altsanger as he explains the diaries and their motivations to the historian and to himself. Through July 14. 800/955-5566. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
The Little Foxes
The Shakespeare Theatre **1/2. The Hubbard clan, the nouveau riche Southern family detailed in Lillian Hellman’s play, gives greed a bad name. Miss Hellman’s play is a melodramatic hoot meant to make us see the monsters in ourselves while watching the Hubbards plot and steal money from one another. But director Doug Hughes’ production is almost camp, with nearly every line delivered with a sneer. And the cast gnaws on every stick of scenery. As long as you relax into the overwrought quality of the show, you can have a walloping good time. Through July 28. 202/547-1122. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
Lobby Hero
Studio Theatre ***1/2 Kenneth Lonergan’s play, set in the lobby of a Manhattan apartment building, is a richly tangled tale of four people struggling to balance obligation and self-interest. The play brings together a front-desk security guard, his mentor boss, a cock-of-the-walk beat cop and his female partner, a rookie officer. Each has an angle to exploit and a duty to honor, and when those intersect the play really takes off. Through July 14. 202/332-3300. Reviewed by Carol Johnson.
Lypsinka: The Boxed Set
Studio Theatre ***. With a brassy auburn wig, sparkling ruby lips and eyelashes that would make Tammy Faye Bakker envious, John Epperson lip-syncs to old standards, mixing in dialogue from classic movies and some inspired physical comedy. He embodies the character Lypsinka with the glamour and graciousness of a bygone era then pokes holes in that image with unexpected outbursts of hysteria and raunch. Mr. Epperson’s one-man show is a dizzying, hilarious glimpse of what happens when a performer’s polish cracks and reveals a bit of insanity underneath. Through July 13 202/332-3300. Reviewed by Carol Johnson.
Peter and the Wolf
Theater J *1/2 Ari Roth’s sequel to “Born Guilty,” with which “Peter and the Wolf” is playing in repertory, unsuccessfully attempts to examine the choices of Peter Sichrovsky, a Jew who becomes general secretary of the far-right Austrian Freedom Party. As a panel debates the motives of the characters and their attitudes, the playwright assumes the audience is familiar with the first show and its characters. Mr. Roth has made this play more like a therapy session for his angst rather than a form of entertainment. Through July 14 at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. 800/494-TIXS. Reviewed by Jen Waters.
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.


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