- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 2, 2005

OPENING

• Contact — Warner Theatre. The 2000 Tony Award winner for best musical and best choreography comprises three thematically linked short stories. Opens Tuesday. 202/397-SEAT.

• The Member of the Wedding — Ford’s Theatre. The 1940s coming-of-age story explores the lives of an introspective 12-year-old white girl and the family’s black maid. Opens tomorrow. 202/347-4833.

• Pecan Tan — The African Continuum Theatre Company. When a man discovers he has a daughter he never knew about, preparations for her imminent arrival begin amid family antics. Opens tomorrow at the H Street Playhouse. 800/494-8497.

NOW PLAYING

• Black Milk — Studio Theatre — *** Bile surges through Vassily Sigarev’s pungent 2003 play about the struggle of the spirit in post-Soviet Russia, a Wild West kind of place where the outlaws rule. In a grimy railway station in the provinces, husband-and-wife scam artists from Moscow try to get back to the city after successfully fleecing the local yokels. However, when massively pregnant wife Shura (a frightening Holly Twyford) bears their daughter, Shura goes soft on the locals who help her. Menacing husband Lyovchik (Matthew Montelongo, in an electrifying performance) beats her back to her harder self. If this is a parable of Russia, the country seems fated to be reborn in darkness. Through Feb. 20. 202/332-3300. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Bohemians — Classika Theatre — *** Paata Tsikurishvili and his dancer-choreographer wife, Irina, have taken inspiration from the Bible, Greek mythology, modern art movements such as cubism and expressionism, and childhood games for a fast-paced, kinetic look at human history. Don’t try to figure out a plot in this wordless 70-minute meditation on man’s equal capacities for destruction and union. Just sink into this cinematic world of movement, wall-to-wall music and artful imagery. Through March 6. 703/824-8060. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Fallen From Proust — Signature Theatre — *** The characters in Norman Allen’s randy love-rectangle comedy set in Sausalito not only bed-hop, but cross sexual boundaries of all permutations. No one is who he or she seems, and everybody’s “gay-dar” is in the shop for repairs. It could be sordid, but Mr. Allen has a snappy way with comebacks and lightly sarcastic riposte that keeps you floating along on a sexy little cloud. Through Feb. 20. 703/218-6500. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Intimations for Saxophone — Fichandler Theater, Arena Stage — ** Director Anne Bogart’s production of Sophie Treadwell’s never-staged play from the 1930s is more of a mood piece or assemblage than a play. It gives us a fragmented look into the fractured mind of a rich woman from 1920s America who knows she wants out of her unfulfilling marriage but doesn’t know what option to pick. The production moves brilliantly. The set is evocative, the costuming impeccable, and every character is constantly on the move. But the visual pizazz doesn’t make up for its lack of depth. Through Feb. 27. 202/488-3300. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Lorenzaccio — The Shakespeare Theatre — ** Alfred de Musset’s 1833 romantic drama about politics, the Medici clan and the price of freedom was never meant to be staged, and it remains rather a mess. It’s stricken with intellectual and philosophical discourse and contains a droopy, lovesick title character, Lorenzo de Medici (Jeffrey Carlson), who teeters between moody despair and idealistic action. Local playwright John Strand attempts to stitch the disparate elements together, and the production, under the direction of Michael Kahn, is lush. The play is fraught with warring ideas that try to state everything but wind up saying nothing. Through March 6. 202/547-1122. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Romeo and Juliet — Folger Theatre — *1/2. Drawing on the current fashion for “updating” Shakespeare’s works, director PJ Paparelli re-imagines the play as a spruced-up riff on “West Side Story,” but far more deviant. The entire evening is drenched in vulgarity, sexual innuendo and crotch grabbing. Even the dotty old Nurse (Nancy Robinette) has the mores of a minor-league baseball player. The mess has some passionate acting, but the boisterous meanness of this brutal, postmodernist view of the world betrays the humanity of its young heroes. Through Feb. 20. 202/554-7077. Reviewed by T.L. Ponick.

• The Tattooed Girl — Theater J — *** Joyce Carol Oates’ talky adaptation of her 2003 novel — about the relationship between a brilliant, disease-addled Jewish writer and his new assistant, who brings with her a dysfunctional, drug-addicted and anti-Semitic past — takes a while to ignite and is not yet completely satisfying. But Michelle Shupe’s galvanizing performance in the title role transforms this intellectually stodgy drama into a crushing, emotional experience. Through Feb. 20 at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. 800/494-8497. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Tea and Sympathy — American Century Theater — *** Robert Anderson’s 1954 play was shocking in its day for its treatment of homophobia as well as for the notion that a lonely 30-ish woman could find comfort in the arms of an equally lonely 17-year-old boy, an artistic adolescent at a roughhouse boys’ prep school in New England where anyone who is “different” is systematically bullied. He finds a soul mate in the headmaster’s wife, caught in a sham of a marriage. This production emphasizes the play’s genteel aspects with a tasteful treatment that won’t rattle the teacups. Through Saturday at Theater II, Gunston Arts Center. 703/553-8782. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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