- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 8, 2003

OPENING

• Color Me Dark: A Story of the Great Migration North — Kennedy Center Theater Lab. A young black girl moves with her family from Tennessee to Chicago in 1919. Opens tomorrow. 202/467-4600.

• Hamlet…the Rest is Silence — Synetic Theater. The Shakespeare classic without dialogue but with drama, movement, mime, dance and music. Opens tomorrow at the Rosslyn Spectrum. 202/462-5364.

• Kilt — Trumpet Vine Theatre Company. A Scottish family gathers for the funeral of their patriarch, and family secrets come out of the closet. Opens tomorrow at the American Century Theatre.703/912-1649.

• Lilies — Actors’ Theater of Washington. A love story of two boys, Romeo and Juliet style, in the early 20th century. Opens tomorrow at the Source Theater. 800/494-8497

• Misery — Landless Theatre Company. Simon Moore’s theatrical adaption of the Stephen King novel. Opens tomorrow at the District of Columbia Arts Center. 202/462-7833.

NOWPLAYING

• The Drawer Boy — Round House Theater — ***1/2. Canadian playwright Michael Healey’s deft three-character piece plumbs emotional depths, delving into art versus truth, story versus fact, friendship versus dependency. Two bachelor farmers in 1970s Ontario find their solitude interrupted by a drop-in, a city youth from Toronto who wants to experience farm life as research for a play he’s writing. His presence changes the duo’s dynamic, so that a deep friendship begins to appear a devastating intimacy. Three fine performances make this a deeply affecting piece. Through Sunday. 240/644-1100. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Fool for Love — Rep Stage — ***. Sam Shepard’s 1983 work combines taboo passions and disappearing myths about the Old West in a dirty tangle of a drama about a pair of tortured half-siblings whose father steps out of memory to interact with them — with deranged and funny results. Illicit lovers since high school, May (Shannon Parks) and Eddie (Jarvis George) have chased each other all over the country, either dodging their feelings or indulging in wallpaper-peeling passion. In a bid to ruin May’s chances with a new suitor, Martin (Lance Lewman), Eddie evokes the meddlesome and loquacious Old Man (Charles Methany), and the revelation costs them big. In this clear and unbridled production, director Jackson Phippin sets the play free with a quartet of relaxed, game actors, a bracing dose of humor and a keen sense of the absurd. Through Sunday at Howard County Community College. 410/772-4900. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Ragtime: The Musical — Toby’s Dinner Theatre — .***1/2 The last great musical of the 20th century, based on E.L. Doctorow’s novel, is epic in scope, depicting a turning point in American life when people were caught between the racing present and the familiar past. The Broadway version was huge. Yet director Toby Orenstein has brought it to a cramped 300-seat dinner theater without sacrificing quality or compromising its innate bigness. It’s pretty weighty fare, but it offers substance and breadth — in addition to entertainment — with your buffet dinner. Through Nov. 23. 410/730-8311. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• The Rivals — The Shakespeare Theatre — ***1/2. A rollicking entertainment that wittily satirizes human foibles that haven’t changed since Richard Brinsley Sheridan wrote the play in 1775. The production has the feel of a frozen confection, and director Keith Baxter maintains an astute airiness and fluff. Four fine performances keep the story going, and the entire ensemble cast gives its all. A refreshing treat from start to finish. Through Oct. 19. 202/547-1122. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• The Robber Bridegroom — American Century Theater, Theater II — **. Some things are better left in the vault. This 1977 musical, based on a Eudora Welty novella, is one. Staged with tons of volume and enthusiasm, the revival still leaves one amazed that show lasted six months on Broadway. It’s a Southern gothic piece, yet as chipper and Kentucky-fried as something out of “Hee-Haw” — then it adds an astonishing array of shrieking or caterwauling off-key singers. When a disembodied head is the best voice in the show, you know you’re in trouble. Through tomorrow at Gunston Arts Center. 703/553-8782. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Rough Crossing — MetroStage — **1/2. Tom Stoppard, known always for whip-smart wordplay and cascading wit, has set his play-within-a-play aboard a cruise ship in the 1920s. It’s a spoof about playwrights on a cruise ship toiling away at their latest Broadway-bound musical. Set, costumes and piano-bar ambience give the production a swell-egant feel. Michael Russotto and Nicole Mestres McDonnell are up to the demands of the Stoppard wordplay. Ian Gould plays a steward with special aplomb. The rest of the cast was not up to snuff, but with time the production might start sparkling. Through Oct. 26. 703/548-9044. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Shakespeare in Hollywood — Arena Stage — ***. District playwright Ken Ludwig’s comedy slickly blends farce, fact, and fantasy for a madcap send-up of Tinseltown’s enduring love affair with the Bard, as exemplified by the low-brow Warner Brothers studio’s filming of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The juggling act is kept aloft by a steady stream of shameless puns and humor that goofs on classic Hollywood while spoofing Shakespearean conventions. Kyle Donnelly directs with light, daffy energy, and the cast is superb. Through Oct. 19. 202/488-3300. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Topdog/Underdog — The Studio Theatre — ***1/2. Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play gives the age-old Cain and Abel story a raw, bruising immediacy. Here the plot impetus of two brothers — fittingly called Booth and Lincoln — bound by sibling rivalry, jealousy, love, loyalty and parental abandonment feels new, its emotional territory unsurveyed. Jahi Kearse is musical and muscular as Booth; Thomas W. Jones II as Lincoln is more measured and slick. Together they create such an intimacy that you almost feel reluctant to intrude upon it. Through Nov. 3. 202/332-3300. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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