- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 28, 2007

OPENING

• Crime and Punishment — Round House Theatre Bethesda. Fyodor Dostoevsky’s conversation on the nature of evil, set in the mind of a murderer who relives and explores the thoughts, ideas and feelings that drove him to commit the crimes. Opens Wednesday. 240/644-1100.

• Edward III — Washington Shakespeare Company. The story of Edward III and his son, the Black Prince, who led England during the Hundred Years War against France. Opens tonight at the Clark Street Playhouse. 703/418-4808.

• That Championship Season — American Century Theater. A reunion of a high-school championship basketball team rips open old wounds, exposes dashed dreams and unleashes unexpected emotions. Opens tomorrow at Gunston Theater II. 703/553-8782.

• Titus Andronicus — Shakespeare Theatre Company. When Roman general Titus returns from his campaign against the Goths he sacrifices a prince, setting in motion a cycle of violence. Opens Tuesday. 202/547-1122.

NOW PLAYING

• Ah, Wilderness! — Center Stage — **. Eugene O’Neill’s nostalgic comedy about youthful rebellion and familial tolerance is largely lost in the woods in this bumpy production. Some of the cast seem to be on intimate terms with Mr. O’Neill’s wistfully autobiographical play about the Millers, an idealized family living in a seaside Connecticut town in 1906. Others seem to have first met each other shortly before curtain time. The rhythms are thrown off to such a point that when the Millers gather, you are not bathed in the glow of a loving and supportive family but glad you are sitting a safe distance away. Through April 15 at 700 N. Calvert St., Baltimore. 410/986-4008.

• Bach At Leipzig — Rep Stage — ***. Playwright Itamar Moses’ wordy and fustily academic play about the machinations of the several musicians vying for the coveted job of cantor and director of music at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig in 1722 — a post won, of course, by J.S. Bach, who sweeps in as a deus ex machina figure at the end — is a drawing-room farce with lofty pretensions that sink under its words. The production, directed with buoyant musicality by Kasi Campbell, contains many lilting moments, but that might be thanks to a dream cast that far exceeds the source material. Through Sunday at Howard County Community College. 410/772-4900.

• Family Secrets — Theater J — ***1/2. Sherry Glaser’s solo turn exploring love and neurosis in the five members of a Jewish family became Off Broadway’s longest-running one-woman show in 1993. Now reprised, it’s still filled with hilarious and heart-catching moments. Miss Glaser transforms herself into a Buddha-bellied accountant, a housewife who mistook her son for Jesus, a frantically angry teen, a New Age daughter, and a grandma savoring a late-in-life marriage. All share a New York nasal whine, a rebelliousness and a sense of humor as dry as yesterday’s matzo. And all carry the message that love and family are all that matters, regardless of how miserable and inconvenient they may seem. Through April 15 at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. 800/494-8497.

• Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune — Arena Stage, Kreeger Theater — ***. The gulf between sex and intimacy is explored with earthy joie de vivre in Terrence McNally’s 1987 working-class fairy tale about a one-night stand in a cramped New York apartment that could turn into something lasting. Under the expert guidance of director David Muse and with two splendid actors (Kate Buddeke and Vito D’Ambrosio) in the title roles, its unbridled raunch and honesty grab you, as does the emotional, unretouched nakedness the actors are willing to display. The play is full of simulated sex and blue talk, but get beyond that and you have frightened people clinging to a tendril of hope. Through April 8. 202/488-3300.

• The Pillowman — Studio Theatre — ****. The images in “The Pillowman” are ghastly enough to make even John Waters, the prince of puke, want to lose his lunch. Sick, twisted, profoundly disturbing — these are high accolades for Martin McDonagh’s Grand Guignol masterpiece about the power of story. Mr. McDonagh, a playwright who usually confines himself to squalid visions of modern Ireland, turns to the horror genre for “The Pillowman,” giving Stephen King and Clive Barker fierce competition with 10 grisly little stories he concocts as a through line for a theatrical work that moves as seamlessly as a morbid musical under Joy Zinoman’s thrilling direction at Studio Theatre. Through April 22. 202/332-3300. MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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