- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 9, 2005


• The All Night Strut! — Metro Stage. Jazz, blues, bebop, and standards of the ‘30s and ‘40s come alive in this song and dance spectacular. Opens Wednesday. 800/494-8497.

• The Playboy of the Western World — The Keegan Theatre. J.M. Synge’s story of a silver-tongued tale-spinner who charms a town in Ireland’s west may be Ireland’s greatest play. Opens tonight at the Church Street Theater. 703/527-6000.


• The Children’s Hour — Everyman Theatre — ***. 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. Through Feb. 20 at 1727 N. Charles St., Baltimore. 410/752-2208. 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 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.

• Kimberly Akimbo — Rep Stage — ****. Kimberly Levaco, the 16-year-old heroine of David Lindsay-Abaire’s blisteringly funny take on aging and dysfunctional families, has a progeria-like disease that ages her at 4 times the normal rate. With the lined face of a crone and parents who are self-absorbed monsters, she yet has the dreams, desires and insecurities of a typical girl. Helen Hedman, a seasoned actress, gives a tour de force performance as Kimberly, whose salvation comes in the geeky, anxiety-riddled form of a schoolmate (James Flanagan) who sees, beyond the wrinkles, a girl he likes to hang out with. Through Feb. 20 at Howard County Community College. 410/772-4900. 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.MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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