- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 29, 2004


• Black Milk — Studio Theatre. Two young Russian drifters from Moscow travel to the rural areas to steal from the local peasants. Opens Wednesday. 202/332-3300.

• Meet the Browns — Warner Theatre. A funeral brings the entire Brown family together, and humor and drama ensue. Opens Tuesday. 202/432-SEAT.


• Carousel — Olney Theatre Center for the Arts — **. This “chamber musical” approach to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1945 musical pares down the cast and orchestra and keeps the staging simple. This cuts costs but also exposes the musical’s sometimes jarring juxtapositions. Songs about geraniums in the “winder box” coexist uneasily with a rougher subtext involving wife beating, suicide, unhappy children and crimes of desperation. The psychological permutations require a deft hand so that the audience is rooting for the tormented hero, but director Brad Watkins displays little dexterity with the material. Extended through tomorrow. 301/924-3400. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Charlotte’s Web — Imagination Stage — ***1/2. E.B. White’s classic 1952 children’s book, “Charlotte’s Web,” touches on kindness, salvation, and the cycle of life without pandering to children or shielding them from the universal truth that things die yet live on in our memories and our sadness. It’s brought to life by Imagination Stage with all its melancholy and simple goodness gloriously intact. Through Jan. 9. 301/280-1660. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Our Lady of 121st Street — Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company — ***1/2. In Stephen Adly Guirgis’ rancorously funny play, a wake in a Harlem neighborhood for the formidable nun Sister Rose, whose corpse has been stolen, brings out the true colors of those who knew her. Mr. Guirgis, who sees profanity as an art form, doesn’t paint a pretty picture in this spiky character study. The production is staged under the flinty direction of John Vreeke, who makes talky plays float and glide and can coax unexpected performances out of actors. The pairing of Mr. Vreeke and Mr. Guirgis is inspired, resulting in a production that revels in roughness and urban despair but still manages to address matters of spirituality. Through Sunday at the Kennedy Center Film Theater. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Pericles — The Shakespeare Theatre — ***1/2. In structure and style, this late play of Shakespeare’s (and there are some doubts he wrote it all) is more like an epic poem teeming with characters and incident, with an episodic plot that almost defies unity. Through Sunday. 202/547-1122. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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