- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 25, 2005

OPENING

• A Midsummer Night’s Dream Shakespeare Theatre— The 16th annual “Shakespeare Free For All” offers performances of the company’s 2004 production. Opens today—Thursday, May 26rron Amphitheatre. 202/547-1122.

• Headsman’s Holiday Theater Alliance— Morality is on the side of the professional murderer; knowledge is on the side of the illiterate; and the truth, which everyone is preaching about, is no more than a dream in Paris circa 1794.Opens today—May 26 H Street Playhouse. 800/494-8497.

• I, Cyclops Scena Theatre—cqA comic retelling of Book 9 of Homer’s epic poem “The Odyssey” from the point of view of the monster Polyphemus. Opens Wednesday at the Warehouse Theater. 703/684-7990.

• Once On This Island Round House Theatre — A Caribbean-flavored musical that explores the life-changing consequences of romance between people from different worlds. Opens Wednesday.—June 14-1100.

• Terrorism — Studio Theatre Secondstage — A funny look at the effects of living with fear in a small town where old ladies plot murders and bomb scares plague the airport. Opens Wednesday. 202/332-3300.

NOW PLAYING

• Anna Christie — Arena Stage, Kreeger Theater — ***1/2. There’s nothing remotely nostalgic in director Molly Smith’s ripely comic, ripsnorting take on the Eugene O’Neill play about the barge captain’s daughter with a damaged past who finds redemption at sea and a chance at a new life with a rescued Irish sailor. The production is vigorous and vibrantly crude. It sings with the crackle of 1920s city slang, the ragtime and jazz-baby rhythms inherent in Mr. O’Neill’s dialogue. Humor and tough-guy patois abound in both the male and female characters, adding to the play’s salty charms, and Sara Surrey attacks the role of Anna with great vigor. Through June 19. 202/488-3300. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Beauty and the Beast— Toby’s Dinner Theatre — ***. Disney’s Broadway musical is notorious for spectacle, but this small dinner theater captures its show-bizzy enchantment with ingenuity, economy, style and Broadway-caliber voices. This is decidedly kiddie fare, but adults, too, will respond favorably to the sophistication of the show’s lyrics and its message: Even the most beastly and odd among us can find love and acceptance. Through July 3. 301/596-6161. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• —Hannah and Martin— *** Theatre J — . How much do we owe our teachers? This is the question for political philosopher Hannah Arendt in this striking and cerebral production of Kate Fodor’s searing play. The Jewish Miss Arendt’s mentor in classroom and bedroom was Martin Heidegger, the controversial thinker and Nazi sympathizer. The play centers on the combustive relationship between the two, and also on Miss Arendt’s post-war dilemma: Can she forgive him for his Nazi views, or would forgiveness let him off the hook? John Lescault as Heidegger is at times unconvincing, but the juicy role of Hannah combines restless intellect and huge, physical rawness and Elizabeth Rich inhabits every ravenous inch of it. This is a study of anguish, and how it can shape and misshape a human being and a mind. Through June 5 at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. 800/494-8497. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Lend Me a Tenor—— Olney Theater ***1—/2l • It’s 1934 and the Cleveland Grand Opera Company has managed to persuade world-renowned tenor Tito Merelli (Paul Jackel)name is cq— to star in its production of “Otello” and the company can’t let anything get in the way of its success even when the superstar can’t perform. That’s when Max (John Scherer), the opera company’s lily-livered assistant, steps into his tights and the footlights, and in the process realizes his inner matinee idol. The result is dizzy, dizzy fun and director John Going and the cast never let the pace lag or opportunities for shameless mugging go by in its production of Ken Ludwig’s Tony-winning play. Through June 12 at Olney Theater. 301/924-3400 Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard—

• Perfectly Persephone: Little Greek Myth Imagination Stage ***-1/2.Three an one half stars— Great Zeus! Imagination Stage and playwright Kevin Kling have taken on the herculean task of adapting Greek myths to a young, modern audience. The theme here, the burden of perfectionism, takes the perfect Persephone to the underworld, but the combination of Mr. Kling’s gently comedic writing and Janet Stanford’s direction draws out the fun. Imagination Stage trumps our expectations with a cast made up of disabled actors and those with conventional abilities to bring the Greek myths to life with an ambrosial quickness and lightness. Through Sunday—May 29. 301/280-1660. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.Voysey Inheritance • Centerstage ** stars In Harley Granville Barker’s 1905 play, Trenchard Voysey Sr. runs an august British investment firm with a spotless reputation except that he and his father before him have been defrauding customers. His son Edward is poised to inherit the firm, and the play details Edward’s ethical struggle and his efforts to put things right. The play feels dated and lugubrious, with leaden clouds of expository dialogue. It might have been provocative in 1905, but a century later it’s a one-note diatribe, airless and devoid of humor and humanity. Through June 5 at 700 N. Calvert St., Baltimore. 410/332-0033. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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