- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2005

OPENING

• Alice in Wonderland Classika Theatre—. The classic children’s tale about Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. Opens Saturday.11/1224-6200.

• A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas — Ford’s Theatre. A retelling of the holiday classic that includes an appearance by Charles Dickens and a new take on those three “ghosts” who haunt Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve. Opens Wednesday. 202/347-4833.

• The Comedy of Errors — Shakespeare Theatre Company. One of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, this is a farce of mistaken identities, taking place in the course of one day. Opens Tuesday at the Shakespeare Theater. 202/547-1122.

• Draft Day — African Continuum Theatre Company. A fantasy about two young basketball players on the verge of rocketing into the NBA and two 19th-century slave traders assessing humans as commodities. In repertory with “Kingdom.” Opens Saturday at the H Street Playhouse. 202/399-7993.

• Kingdom — African Continuum Theatre Company. A comedic take on Shakespeare’s “Richard III” set in an apartment above a barbecue joint in Cleveland. In repertory with “Draft Day.” Opens Saturday at the H Street Playhouse. 202/399-7993.

• A Little Rebellion Now — Venus Theatre Company. D.C. statehood activists form an uneasy alliance with IMF-World Bank protesters and attempt to secede from the Union. Opens Wednesday at the Warehouse Theater. 202/236-4078.

• Oliver — Olney Theatre Center for the Arts. An orphan boy’s request for more gruel leads him on a musical, action-filled journey through Victorian London. Opens Wednesday. 301/924-3400.

• Over, or Those Crazy Kids — Catalyst Theatre Company. A husband and wife struggle to protect their family from the invasive din of modern culture. Opens tonight at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. 800/494-8497.

• Starving — Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. A bustling apartment stoop in a new black neighborhood in 1950s Atlanta brims with vitality and ambition, while a peek behind apartment walls reveals a world of struggle. Opens Monday. 202/393-3939.

• A Year with Toad and Frog — Round House Theatre Bethesda. A friendship between a frog and a toad grows as they travel through an adventure-filled year learning life’s lessons along the way. Opens Wednesday. 240/644-1100.

NOW PLAYING

• Aida — Toby’s Dinner Theatre — . The Elton John-Tim Rice version of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera is a pastiche of Broadway belters, easy-listening rock ‘n’ roll and pop balladry. Yet the story of a princess caught between trying to save her people and her love for a conflicted Egyptian soldier packs an emotional wallop. Through Nov. 20. 301/596-6161. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• The Body Project — Horizons Theatre — . Inspired by Joan Jacobs Brumberg’s nonfiction work, this stage version is a series of loosely connected vignettes that delve into the body issues of seven disparate women. It is potent food for thought about American women’s obsessions with weight and flawless looks. At 2½ hours, it feels too long. Some of the vignettes are more tightly written than others. The acting ranges from stunning to barely competent and the production values are often distractingly low-tech. Even so, this is an important piece that points up just how far we’ve gone in judging worth solely by looks and sex appeal. Through Sunday at the Warehouse Next Door. 703/578-1100. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again — Metro Stage — . Canadian playwright Michel Tremblay’s autobiographical work is an unabashedly loving tribute to his late mother, to whom he credits his thirst for the dramatic. The Narrator (Bruce M. Holmes) tells the story of life with the earthy and effervescent Nana (Catherine Flye), from the time he was 10 to Nana’s later years. Nana was a skilled storyteller who could make a trip to the grocery store seem like a five-act Greek tragedy, and Miss Flye is an ideal fit. With her loopy, expressive body language and hectic delivery, she can sell a story like nobody’s business. The play is about how imagination conjures worlds far beyond experience. Through Nov. 27. 703/548-9044. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Much Ado About Nothing — Folger Theatre — . Director Nick Hutchinson has moved the setting of Shakespeare’s play from Italy to an English manor house immediately following World War II. He also takes a more unorthodox approach to the warring couple Beatrice and Benedict, discarding the cliche that they have always had a crush on each other. Here, theirs is a darker journey, from heartbreak and stubborn defensiveness to the discovery that perhaps they are not as brittle as they imagined. This is one of Shakespeare’s most effortlessly witty plays, and this handsome and affecting new production makes the most of the humor. Through Nov. 27. 202/554-7077. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• String Fever — Theater J — . Jacquelyn Reingold’s urban farce about a music teacher searching for meaning in life as she faces her 40th birthday — and finding string theory, the idea that the universe is made up of interlaced filaments, strands that are the smallest particles in existence — is disarming and sharply observant. It’s a combination of zany, TV-style characters and enough brain-teasing to make the audience feel smart. The play is fragmented at times, resulting in episodes of wildly varying energy levels. Even the set seems disjointed, and some of the characters do not seem organic to the piece. Yet the comedy sometimes crackles with off-kilter humor and insight. Through Nov. 27. 800/494-TIXS. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• You Are Here — Theater Alliance — **1/2. Jennifer Mendenhall can play anything, and in Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor’s drama she gives a piercing portrayal of Alison, a feckless woman looking back and realizing how little control she had in shaping her life. The play is structured like a rewinding movie, and Alison, ostensibly an intelligent writer and filmmaker, expands as the play progresses and people from her past pop up. The cast is superb, but the characters are vapid — and Alison is so obstinately passive we have no reason to care about her. This may be a skewering of the movie industry’s vacuous temptations, but it leads us nowhere. Through Sunday at the H Street Playhouse. 800/494-8497. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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