- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 16, 2002

OPENING

Born Guilty Theater J. Play based on Peter Sichrovsky's interviews with the children of Nazis. In repertory with "Peter and the Wolf." Previews begin Sunday at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. 800/494-TIXS.

• Candida Olney Theatre Center for the Arts. A young poet sows discontent in a couple's marriage in this George Bernard Shaw comedy. Opens Tuesday. 301/924-3400.

Company Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. A Manhattan bachelor learns life lessons from his married friends in this Stephen Sondheim comedy. 202/467-4600.

El Invitado (The Houseguest) Teatro de la Luna. An overbearing guest causes havoc in a reserved couple's life. Opens tonight at Theater on the Run. 202/882-6227.

• Peter and the Wolf Theater J. World premiere of the sequel to "Born Guilty," which explores the disturbing relationship between author Peter Sichrovsky and right-wing Austrian Joerg Haider. In repertory with "Born Guilty." Previews begin Tuesday at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. 800/494-TIXS.

• This Is Our Youth Studio Theatre Secondstage. Three rich, wayward teen-agers struggle with growing up in the 1980s. Opens tonight. 202/332-3300.


NOW PLAYING

Collected Stories Olney Theatre Center for the Arts ***. Donald Margulies' terrifically thought-provoking play explores the right to privacy and to keep a secret in our talk-show world. Halo Wines plays a venerated fiction writer who takes a young female writer (Carolyn Pasquantonio) under her wing and eventually lets down her guard, telling the younger woman of her affair years ago with the celebrated poet Delmore Schwartz. The protege, spurred by ambition, takes the confidence and makes a book of it. Miss Wines' evocation of hurt, loss and rage is magnificent as she devolves into something like a cornered animal. Miss Pasquantonio is masterful in a canny performance that projects a person at once so smart and so unaware. Director Jim Petosa capitalizes on the intimacy of the space, as well as the intimacy of this friendship and betrayal. Through Sunday. 301/924-3400. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.

• Hamlet Stanislavsky Theater Studio ***1/2. A "Hamlet" without words might seem like a meal without food, but if you're skeptical, see this production by the Synetic Theater, a new project of the Stanislavsky Theater begun by Stanislavsky co-artistic director Paata Tsikurishvili and his wife, choreographer and pantomimist Irina Tsikurishvili. The play contains a lot of stylized movement and dance, but it isn't simply "re-imagined" as an interpretive dance number, nor is it simply a play without words. Director Tsikurishvili, who also plays Hamlet, cooperates with the script and shows respect for the play's integrity. Miss Tsikurishvili makes an ethereal Ophelia and Catherine Gasta is suitably repulsive as Hamlet's conspiring mother, Queen Gertrude. As the Player Queen and the Courtier, Irina Koval distinguishes herself, in one instance performing a comic striptease without removing any of her clothes. The black costumes and the black set, both by Georgi Alexi-Meskhishvili, contribute to the sense of doom and darkness. The music, taken from works by Georgian composer Giya Kancheli, contributes to a weirdly compelling effect. Synetic Theater has tremendous promise if its future plays are anything like this one. Through May 26 at Church Street Theater. 202/265-3748. Reviewed by Eric M. Johnson.

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 each of its 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.

• Mamma Mia National Theatre **. The musical "Mamma Mia," inspired by songs from the 1970s Swedish pop phenomenon ABBA, is one of those cute, screamingly bright shows, similar to "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" in its mishmash of styles and high-octane zestiness. But it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The show takes place now on a mythical Greek island as a fiercely independent single mother, a free spirit from the 1970s, prepares for the wedding of her daughter. The daughter, obsessed with finding out who her father is, steals her mother's diary and draws from it three prospects, whom she invites to the wedding. Mirth and mayhem ensue. You must have a sweet tooth for disco and inane lyrics to fully appreciate "Mamma Mia." Through June 8. 800/477-7400. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.

• A Moon for the Misbegotten Kreeger Theater Arena Stage ****. Director Molly Smith's transcendent production of Eugene O'Neill's play has many elements of romantic comedy. The first act is full of playful banter between Josie Hogan (Janice Duclos), a rough-tongued Irish-American farmer's daughter, and Jim Tyrone Jr. (Tuck Milligan), a fading and alcoholic actor, with liberal helpings of blarney from Josie's Irish rascal of a father, Phil, played with rapacious glee by Robert Hogan. But O'Neill takes the conventions of comic romance and goes for something more tremendous and beautiful, in a second act that sees Josie and Jim shedding their fake skins under the midnight moon and expanding into love. This is possibly one of the most devastatingly lovely love scenes in American drama. Miss Duclos, in a luminous performance, allows us to witness Josie's transformation from a "cow" of a woman to a lover. Mr. Milligan combines a matinee idol's profile with the wry cynicism of a confirmed drunk and failure in his masterful performance as James Tyrone. It's a big, gnarled love and a haunting play. Through June 16. 202/488-3300. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.

Much Ado About Nothing Washington Shakespeare Company ***. Director Michael Comlish, a former WSC member visiting from New York City, has fashioned Shakespeare's traditionally fluffy play into a tragicomic semi-dream in which its characters strut and sweat with simmering energy, yet take themselves none too seriously. Andrew Sullivan, a senior editor at the New Republic, plays a muscular and intense version of Benedick. The fiery and antagonistic Beatrice is played passionately by Brook Butterworth. Yet the semi-comic, semi-tragic genius of the performance is Christopher Henley, the WSC's artistic director, who plays both Don Pedro and his illegitimate twin, Don John. This production of "Ado" is entertaining, outrageous and energetically acted. Through Sunday. 703/418-4808. Reviewed by Jon Ward.

• Romeo and Juliet The Shakespeare Theatre ***. The Shakespeare Theatre's production is as fresh and unmannered as youth itself although the passion doesn't erupt as violently as it should. Young British director Rachel Kavanaugh, who says she believes in revealing "text-led Shakespeare," commendably plays it straight, lets the plot unfold and the actors act. Although this production isn't perfect, it has a beautiful, endearing simplicity that can only be attributed to Ms. Kavanaugh's living out her credo. Through Sunday. 202/547-1122. Reviewed by Eric M. Johnson.

• Sea Marks Metrostage ***. MetroStage revives playwright Gardner McKay's tale of a sweet, doomed romance between an Irish fisherman and a divorced career woman. Colm meets Timothea, a Welsh woman and publishing executive who lives in Liverpool, England, when she attends a wedding on Colm's primitive island. She persuades him to come and stay with her in Liverpool. Before he does, he writes her many letters. His words are awash with his love of the sea and so stirring that she wants to publish them. He finds both that and the city debasing and wants to return to his sea island; she cannot bear the thought of the rough life there. Colm is played affectingly by Michael Tolaydo, while Catherine Flye effectively transforms herself from the "lady" on the island to the ambitious editor. The play will resonate with anyone who has ever contemplated pulling up anchor on an established way of life and heading into uncharted waters to be with a loved one. Through May 26. 703/548-9044. Reviewed by Susan Beving.


MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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