- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 21, 2002

OPENING
Don't Ask for Directions GALA HispanicTheatre. Poems, monologues and other social commentary from young people, with the artists of Spoken Resistance. Opens tomorrow, runs through Saturday at Josephine Butler Parks Center. 202/526-4417.
Letter to Orestes and The Supper Scena Theatre. Two-part evening of ancient Greek theater given a modern staging by playwright Iakovos Kambanellis. Opens Saturday at the Warehouse Theatre. 703/684-7990.
The Man Who Laughs Le Neon Theatre. New version of Victor Hugo's play about a poor, disfigured boy who finds he comes from a privileged family. Opens tomorrow at Theatre on the Run. 703/243-6366.
Romeo and Juliet The Shakespeare Theatre. Shakespeare's tragic tale of star-crossed lovers. Opens Tuesday. 202/547-1122.

NOW PLAYING
Copenhagen Kennedy Center **-1/2. Michael Frayn's work is an impeccable and handsome play about a shadowy 1941 meeting between Danish physicist Niels Bohr (Len Cariou) and his German counterpart, Werner Heisenberg (Hank Stratton). Why did Heisenberg take such a risky journey to Nazi-occupied Copenhagen to see his old mentor and friend, as well as Bohr's wife, Margrethe (Mariette Hartley)? Did they discuss the race to make the atomic bomb? That question is not answered definitely. Unfortunately, "Copenhagen" resembles some of the skating seen in the 2002 Olympics flawless, but stiff. Through Sunday. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
The Marriage Classika Theatre **. Russian literary star Nikolai Gogol's play contains many funny insights and lines about the timeless, fierce apprehension people have about getting married. However, in the hands of Classika Theatre's eight-member cast and director Yuri Kordonsky, the comedic pacing is so off and the dramatic tension so lacking that one wonders whether the play is a comedy or a tragedy. Through March 31 in the Village at Shirlington. $15 to $20. 703/824-6200. 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 April 7. 202/462-1073. Reviewed by Carol Johnson.
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 March 31. 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.
Tommy J & Sally D.C. Jewish Community Center **-1/2. This co-production by Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Theatre J starts, if not with a literal bang, then with an uneasy menace, and ends with a simper or at least a feel-good conclusion. In Mark Medoff's play, Thomas Jefferson (Craig Wallace) is an angry black man in Los Angeles looking for meaning, a sign and he gets it in the form of some pop-song lyrics. Sally Hemmings (Sue-Anne Morrow) is the hottest pop star in the business, who writes goopy anthems of racial harmony. Thomas Jefferson arrives at her apartment, posing as a grocery-delivery man. He makes several observations and later picks the locks on her doors, setting in motion an intense and intensely personal examination of race and identity. Through Sunday. 800/494-TIXS. Reviewed by Carol Johnson.
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 have 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 April 7. 202/488-4377. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS



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