- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2006

OPENING

• Mame — Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. The comedic adventures of an unconventional aunt and her nephew. Opens Saturday. 202/467-4600.

• A Murder, A Mystery, & A Marriage: A Mark Twain Musical Melodrama — Round House Theatre Silver Spring. A recently discovered short story by Mark Twain that has been transformed into a musical. Opens Wednesday. 240/644-1100.

• Pericles — The Shakespeare Theatre. Shakespeare’s romantic adventure at the annual Shakespeare Free-for-All. Opens tonight at Carter Barron Amphitheatre. 202/547-1122.

NOW PLAYING

• Becoming George — Metro Stage — **. As conceived by Patti McKenny and Doug Frew, this new musical is not about 19th-century French author George Sand’s artistically and socially revolutionizing work. Instead it dwells on her sunset years, when she is a reflective duffer ruminating on past loves and the artistic development of the young Sarah Bernhardt. Evidently George Sand’s life wasn’t interesting enough. It’s largely brushed aside in favor of a touchy-feely, “free to be you and me” message about becoming your own woman. Kat’ Taylor is a wise and intelligently benevolent presence as George Sand, but Megan Midkiff as La Bernhardt lacks dramatic heft and comes across as a ninny. Some of the music is catchy and tuneful, and the lyrics contain moments of style and wit. As a whole the musical is merely a sketch that shows tiny glints of promise. Through Sunday. 703/548-9044. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• A Body of Water — Round House Theatre Silver Spring — ***. Everyone’s having a senior moment in Lee Blessing’s funny, enigmatic play, which the talented Rebecca Bayla Taichman has directed to a fine sheen. In a mountaintop oasis surrounded on all sides by water and trees, a sponge-brained, middle-aged couple struggle to discover who they are and how they got there, as a brisk young woman who may or may not be their daughter feeds them what may be clues. The gently mischievous play, which turns frightening at the drop of a hat, seems to ask to what extent we choose our own reality. Mr. Blessing’s way of toying with memory and perception recalls the work of Pinter and Beckett. Unlike their often bracing chill, however, this play is disturbing but never alienating. Through June 4. 240/644-1100. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Frozen — Studio Theatre Secondstage — ****. Sterling performances, an absorbing and emotionally complex play by British playwright Bryony Lavery, and impeccable direction by David Muse. Who could ask for anything more? This is the kind of small, intense, actor-driven show for which Studio Theatre is known. The play charts the interwoven lives of three psychologically paralyzed characters: a convicted child murderer, an American researcher who believes that serial killers are ill and not evil, and the mother of a 10-year-old girl who was one of the victims. The production thrills in the deepest sense with exquisite acting that burns with intelligence and heat. Through June 4. 202/332-3300. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• The Hundred Dresses — Imagination Stage — **. Writer-director Mary Hall Surface has adapted Eleanor Estes’ 1942 young adult novel to the stage, expanding the book to include a subplot concerning the heroine’s getting a second chance to do the right thing. The themes of peer pressure, bullying, and materialism are tenderly imparted, but this Depression-era tale about a child developing a conscience is muted and melancholy, and comes across heavy-handed and didactic, especially in the second act. Through June 11. 301/280-1660. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill — Arena Stage, Kreeger Theater — **1/2. Lainie Robertson’s stage show does not attempt a definitive biography of Billie Holiday, but instead tries to capture the calamitous spirit of the Baltimore-born singer as she might have been in 1959, the year of her death at age 44 from years of hard drinking and heroin addiction. The place is a gin-soaked jazz club in Philadelphia, where Lady Day (Lynn Sterling) is down on her luck but still wearing the signature gardenias in her hair and immaculate white evening finery. Miss Sterling neatly captures the flavor of Miss Holiday’s singing style, and the evening is melodic and frequently entertaining. However, there’s a tawdriness about the play’s depiction of the legendary vocalist. They didn’t call Miss Holiday “Lady” for nothing, and making her a tramp does her an injustice. Through June 4. 202/488-3300. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• On the Verge, or the Geography of Yearning — Arena Stage, Fichandler Theater — **1/2. Eric Overmyer’s whimsical 1985 play, in a vibrant production, transports us to the Victorian era and three richly dressed female explorers who travel through space and time to the exotic 1950s, going googly-eyed over Hula-Hoops, “I Like Ike” buttons, and rock ‘n’ roll. Both eras were times when society’s prospects seemed unlimited, yet women were constrained by stern gender roles. The play at times suffers from a twee preciousness: You feel imprisoned either in a Whitman’s Sampler or an episode of “Happy Days.” Yet its tender charm is in its portrayal of a world where everything seemed arching and infinite. Through June 11. 202/488-3300. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Two Rooms — Theater Alliance — ***. Lee Blessing’s bleakly touching play was written in 1988 when the taking of Western hostages by Middle Eastern factions was a new and alarming tactic. It charts the fates of a teacher (David Johnson) captured in Beirut and kept fettered in a filthy cell for three years and his distraught wife in America (Kathleen Coons), who as she battles bureaucratic doublespeak in her attempts to free him, has stripped his home office bare as a way to capture his presence. In effect, both are captive, and after a reporter urges the wife to go public with her story, the consequences are unpredictable and chilling. The play puts you through an emotional wringer, but the sadness is leavened by extraordinary performances and incisive direction by Shirley Serotsky. Through Sunday at the H Street Playhouse. 202/396-0050. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide