- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 23, 2005

OPENING

• The Lonesome West — Scena Theatre. A dark depiction of rural Ireland where two brothers are unable to co-exist without resorting to violence over the simplest matters. Opens tomorrow at the Warehouse Theater. 703/684-7990.

NOW PLAYING

• The All Night Strut! — Metro Stage — **. Conceived by Fran Charnas more than two decades ago, this music-and-dance revue is more of a wobble, a lackluster spin through popular songs of the 1920s through the ‘50s. It never quite takes off despite the energetic efforts of the four-member cast and director Thomas W. Jones II. There’s much to like, but the songs are over-produced to hammy excess, and the set seems low budget. It’s a viewing experience that often feels like it takes all night. Through March 27. 800/494-8497. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• The Children’s Hour — Rep Stage — ***. Lillian Hellman’s 1934 play was banned in Boston, Chicago and London in the 1930s for its veiled references to homosexuality. But the drama that grows from the viciousness of nasty, gossipy students at a girls’ prep school, who spread a false rumor that their two headmistresses are lesbians, remains riveting. Miss Hellman’s intent was not taboo thrills but to illuminate how social injustice, intolerance and falsehoods destroy the lives of good people. This taut and involving production emphasizes just how injurious a single lie can be. Tomorrow through March 13 at 10910 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. 410/772-4900. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• 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 Sunday. 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.

• 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 is impeccable, and every character is constantly on the move. But the visual pizazz doesn’t make up for a lack of depth. Through Sunday. 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.

• The Member of the Wedding — Ford’s Theatre — **. Written in 1946, staged in 1950 and made into a movie in 1952, Carson McCullers’ play touched on race relations and class distinctions, but it was more a personal story about a young girl’s coming of age. Ford’s Theatre has refocused the play under the direction of Marshall W. Mason, who has chosen to emphasize the schism between the white world and the black world in 1940s America. This subtext subverts the delicacy of the play, giving us an airless production that sacrifices the deep longing of the various characters to an atmosphere of touchiness and intolerance. Through Sunday. 202/347-4833. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Pecan Tan — African Continuum Theatre Company — **. In Tanya Barfield’s “family comedy,” whose title refers to the lead character’s assessment of his skin color, Darrell Jerome (Randall Shepperd) grapples not only with an edgy wife and her outspoken mother, but with a surprise guest, too. This long-lost daughter, a crew-cut boyish figure in combat boots, baggy shorts and rainbow-flag socks, is the biracial product of a brief affair Darrell had with a white woman 20 years before. With raucous, caustic humor and more than a few four-letter words, the play delivers numerous laughs. Yet it’s basically sketch comedy and tells us little we didn’t already know about shiftless spouses, homophobia, motherless and fatherless children, and race relations. Through Sunday at the H Street Playhouse. 800/494-8497. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood — Imagination Stage *** 1/2. Washingtonian Joan Cushing wrote the book, music, and lyrics for this Tabasco-spiked musical adaptation of Mike Artell’s storybook, “Petit Rouge,” and this latest work finds her spirits high and her talent for infectious rhymes as sharp as ever. The production, which transforms the dark forest into a swamp on the bayou, is as snappy as a string of cayenne peppers. The vibrant score, a mix of Cajun, zydeco, Dixieland, gospel, jazz, and the blues, is infused with sounds from the fiddle, accordion, washboard, and harmonica, and the choreography features high-kicking routines. It’s a feast for the senses. Through April 3. 301/280-1660. 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 Sunday. 202/544-7077. Reviewed by T.L. Ponick.MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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