- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 15, 2006

OPENING

• Anything Goes — Olney Theatre Center for the Arts. A debutante, a businessman, a nightclub singer, an English lord and a gangster come together in Cole Porter’s musical comedy set aboard the SS American. Opens Sunday. 301/924-3400.

• Autumn Garde — American Century Theaterts at a summer resort explore the emotional dark places that exist in everyone as they gather to discuss their life choices. Opens tonight

3/16 at Theater II, Gunston Arts Center. 703/553-8782.

• Shenanoah— ‘s Theatre

. Set during the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley, this musical chronicles a farmer’s struggle to keep his family safe and out of the war. Opens tomorrow.

3/17• 202/397-SEAT.

NOW PLAYING

— —Don Juan ***espeare Theatretars — Drector Stephen Wadsworth, using his own new, brashly conversational adaptation/translation of Moliere’s comedy, floridly attempts to recapture the anxious bluster of that opening night in Paris on Feb. 15, 1665, when Moliere’s company performed it before King Louis XIV. Scandal and suppression followed, but not because of the sex. It was Don Juan’s libertine mind that flipped everyone’s periwigs. The staging is beautiful, the costumes and lighting opulent, the performances devilishly good. But Mr. Wadsworth’s histrionic production emphasizes extremes and ends up compromising the subtlety and charm of Moliere’s play. Through SundayMarch 19—. 202/547-1122. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

Dybuk —— Theatre J and Synetic Theater3 star • This new adaptation of Russian ethnographer S. Anski’s cq—1914 iddish play whose name refers to the wandering soul of someone who died before his time, in this case a dead lover who enshrouds his beloved — marks a collaboration between the movement-based Synetic Theater company and Theater J, known for its dialogue-rich productions of Jewish-themed works. Director Paata Tsikurishvili and co-adapter Hannah Hessel cqction to the Caucasus—cq region of Georgia, and the production becomes, at times, a vibrant showpiece for Georgian-Jewish culture. However, the play’s impact lies in the unearthly beauty and yearning expressed in the scenes where the spiritual and corporeal worlds delicately intermingle. Through Sunday• March 19 at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. 800/494-8497. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.***

— Fat Pig — Studio Theatre ****Four stars confronts our attitudes toward weight and appearance with blistering honesty and wit. It’s almost unheard of for a big woman to be seen in a sexual context, but here, smart, appealing, plus-size Helen (Kate Debelack) gets the guy, a buff, successful executive named Tom (Tyler Pierce) steamy boudoir scenes as well. Mr. LaBute holds up the cliches “love is blind” and “looks aren’t everything” to almost unbearable scrutiny. Under the disgusted, ruthless gazes of Tom’s friends, this love doesn’t stand a chance. Through March 26. 202/332-3300. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• The God of Hell — Didactic Theatre Company — **1/2— Sam Shepard’s biting farce, written just before the last presidential election in hopes that it would tip the balance, is a vituperative cautionary tale about the Bush administration. Two modest Wisconsin dairy farmers are leading a pleasantly boring life until a houseguest attracts the attention of a CIA-type operative. Then they become trapped under the jackbooted foot of big government. There is plenty to warm up to in Didactic’s production, directed with malicious high energy by H. Lee Gable. Yet the cast goes for the jugular in every scene, when perhaps a tad more pulling back might have resulted in more laughs. Through SaturdayMarch 18• at Atlas Performing Arts Center. 202/399-7993. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

—Haroun and the Sea of Stories Theater Alliance— *** 2.2 and a half stars When a master storyteller in an Indian hamlet loses his gift, his daughter Haroun travels to the fabulous Sea of Stories to reconnect her father to the flow of imagination and words. This adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s 1990 novel a giant allegory depicting his troubles and exile after Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini condemned him to death for “blasphemous” writing was written as a way to tell his young son of his troubles and also to depict the price we all pay for silencing a writer’s voice. The play is largely enchanting, but director and choreographer Kelly Parsley ladles on the fanciful touches until the audience is nearly drowning in a sea of decorative language, perfumed metaphors and quirky movement. Through April 9 at the H Street Playhouse. 800/494-8497. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

— —Hip Hop Anansi *** —Stage .3 stars Adapted by Elsa Davis from the story “Anansi and His Sons,” this hip-hop version features a trickster spider named Anansi (Fred Michael Beam), who wants to win the “golden fly pie” more than anything but must rely on the talents of his children to claim the prize. It’s a hip-hop show to which you’d feel comfortable taking the whole family. The b-boys and fly girls in this production are youthful and fresh-faced. No BET-style, hootchy-kootchyW moves or even a wisp of gangstacq, violence. These are the mean streets of “Sesame Street.” Through April 13. 301/280-1660. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

The Rainmaker — Arena Stage, Fichandler Theater *** Set in the American West during the Great Depression, N. Richard Nash’s play, a staple of community theaters for years, has an aura of quiet desperation about it. Every character is parched in some way, hoping for a miracle big and small none more so than a plain-Jane young woman near the end of her “marrying years,” who begins to appreciate herself only when she’s wooed by a seedy, charming confidence man who arrives in town and promises he can make it rain. Director Lisa Peterson’s finely wrought production of the 50-year-old American classic emits a gentle, steady sense of hope, that even in our most despairing moments, relief and release are only a drop away. Through April 9. 202/488-3300. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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