- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 25, 2006


• Equus — Washington Shakespeare Company. A young man blinds six horses, and a doctor attempts to discover how he did it in Peter Shaffer’s Tony-winning play. Opens tonight at the Clark Street Playhouse. 703/418-4808.

• An Inspector Calls — Washington Stage Guild. In J.B. Priestly’s classic, the Birling family gathers to celebrate the engagement of Mr. and Mrs. Birling’s daughter, Sheila, only to find out that her intended has a shady past. Opens tonight. 240/582-0050.

• Jocasta — Natural Theatricals. A feminist re-imagining of the Oedipus myth, transplanted to 19th-century Martinique. Opens tonight at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. 703/739-9338.

• Tintypes — Rep Stage. A musical snapshot of the United States from 1890 to 1917. Opens tomorrow at Howard County Community College. 410/772-4900.


• The Bluest Eye — Theater Alliance — ****. Toni Morrison’s celebrated 1970 novel is the basis for this incandescent production, directed with a sure hand by David Muse. The story of an 11-year-old black girl in 1941 Ohio who prays for the blue eyes, blond hair and pink skin she thinks will keep people from making fun of her, it’s pitted with sorrow. Yet the alchemy created by Lydia Diamond’s agile adaptation, exemplary ensemble acting and well-placed bursts of traditional spiritual music lift Miss Morrison’s work from desperate sadness to tragic grandeur. Through Nov. 12 at the H Street Playhouse. 202/396-0050. — Jayne Blanchard

• Cabaret — Arena Stage Fichandler Theatre — *1/2. Arena Stage’s lugubrious production of John Kander and Fred Ebb’s 1966 musical — set in a debauched nightclub in pre-World War II Berlin — takes an already politically charged musical and lards it over with contemporary references to anti-Semitism, homophobia, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, and the erosion of American civil liberties after September 11. The dark dazzle of the musical nearly collapses from the strain. Much of its sophistication is lost, and the wicked decadence of the piece all of a sudden seems squalid in the context of director Molly Smith’s vision of “Cabaret” as a morality play and battleground for human rights. Through Sunday. 202/488-3300. — Jayne Blanchard

• Girl in the Goldfish Bowl — MetroStage — ***1/2. This transcendent production of Canadian playwright Morris Panych’s play — about an unhappy marriage as glimpsed through the eyes of the 10-year-old daughter in a dull small town in western Canada — captures the moment when a child moves from innocence to adult sensibilities. It does so with eccentric humor and unguarded honesty. Young Iris is a glorious creation who dwells firmly in her splendid imagination and becomes fixated on the idea that a mysterious stranger is the reincarnation of her dead goldfish. The denouement is a messy affair straight out of “The Sopranos,” and the recovery strikes a false note. However, Mr. Panych combines a dastardly sense of humor with bighearted insights into life’s most troubling passages, and Susan Lynskey unforgettably plays both sides of Iris’ nature — scarily smart child and awkward young girl desperate for love and attention. Through Sunday. 703/548-9044. — Jayne Blanchard

• My Fair Lady — Signature Theatre — **. Signature artistic director Eric Schaeffer has stripped Lerner and Loewe’s romantic musical right down to its grubby underthings. Class differences, Britain’s exacting caste system, and the notion that beneath every socialite lurks a guttersnipe are the prevailing motifs in Mr. Schaeffer’s twisted, darkly sexual vision of the play. Arresting moments do exist in the production, along with some excellent performances, but this “My Fair Lady” isn’t about linguistics, it’s about lust — the nasty, craven kind that is exploitive and is realized in the shadows. Through Nov. 19. 800/955-5566. — Jayne Blanchard

• 9 Parts of Desire — Arena Stage Kreeger Theater — ***. Performer and writer Heather Raffo’s one-woman show brings the Iraq war home with heart-rending depth and clarity. It explores sex, in the sense of both gender and carnality, and what it means to be a mother, a wife, a lover, a daughter or a sister — women who live in secret, concealing their bodies in long scarves and the traditional Iraqi black robes. The grimness accretes to an almost intolerable degree, but Miss Raffo puts a human, divinely feminine face on it, showing how war and tyranny ravage the souls and bodies of Iraqi women but cannot completely silence their voices. Through Nov. 12. 202/488-3300. — Jayne Blanchard

• Red Light Winter — Studio Theatre — ***1/2. Adam Rapp’s flint-hearted comedy about two thirtysomething American chums whose sybaritic vacation of booze, drugs and a romp with a gorgeous prostitute in Amsterdam changes their lives is not a play to cozy up to. The friendship has a top-dog-underdog dynamic, and the love triangle is sordid. Although plenty of sex is portrayed onstage (the show is graphic sexually and in regard to language), it is not particularly inviting. Yet the staccato rhythms and slap-in-the-face brusqueness of the writing recall David Mamet or Neil LaBute at their most curdled, and a trio of dynamic performances marshaled by director Joy Zinoman sharpen Mr. Rapp’s distinct voice. Studio Theatre sustains its hot streak with “Red Light Winter.” Through Sunday. 202/332-3300. — Jayne Blanchard

• Sleeping Beauty: The Time Traveler — Imagination Stage — **1/2. This update of the Sleeping Beauty legend astutely casts aside the fantasy of an enchanted girl awakened by a prince and emphasizes a young person’s journey to independence as a young princess time-travels to the 21st century to become adopted by an American family and its video-gamer son. Though continuity problems interfere with the charm, the show moves briskly and brightly, the cast contributes engaging performances, and the music is as sprightly as ever. Through Nov. 5. 301/961-6060. — Jayne Blanchard

• Son of a Bush — Gross National Product —**. Gross National Product’s new political comedy show is a sometimes endearingly low-tech deflation of inside-the-Beltway maneuvers, election-year posturing and the Bush administration. A lot of the political humor is about as fresh as a Tricky Dick impression. GNP does not bring anything new to the table, instead resorting to Dick Cheney’s gun mishaps and Bushisms we have seen parodied a million times before. If you’re going to pick an easy target, make sure you can hit it at least some of the time. Extended indefinitely on Saturdays at the Warehouse Theater. 202/783-7212. — Jayne Blanchard

• Teddy Roosevelt and the Treasure of Ursa Major — Kennedy Center Family Theater — ***. The three scalawag children of the 26th president are the focus of this smart, affable world-premiere family musical by Tom Isbell, which marks the first collaboration between the Kennedy Center and the White House Historical Association. No wonder: When the children come across a copy of “Treasure Island” with a mysterious treasure map inside, they search all over the mansion to unravel the clues. At times, the show seems like a history lesson, but the lively musical numbers — with waggish lyrics by Mark Russell — provide a welcome recess. Paul Morella plays Teddy with dashing heartiness, and the adult actors playing the Roosevelt children are engaging charmers. Through Saturday. 202/467-4600. — Jayne Blanchard MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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