- The Washington Times - Friday, April 18, 2008


• Translations Keegan Theatre at the Church Street Theater— Brian Friel evokes the —upheavals in Irish society of the early 1800s as the British Royal Engineers sweep through Donegal to Anglicize its Gaelic place names. Opens tonight. Through May 17. 703/892-0202, ext. 2


• Bad Dates Olney Theatre— —.. Theresa Rebeck’scqmedy, directed with empathetic elan by Lee Mikeska Gardner, has its blithe charms, but like a fun first date who turns out to be a stalker, the play becomes something odd you want to avoid at all costs. Closes Sunday. 301/924-4485

• Death of a Salesman — Arena Stage in Crystal City — … Rick Foucheux embodies the tragic aspects of Willy Loman in a towering, gutsy performance. Nancy Robinette as Willy’s helpmate wife, Linda, is as watchfully aware and resourceful as she is caring. Jeremy S. Holm’s staggering, Stanley Kowalski-like Biff isn’t trapped merely in his father’s inflated ambitions for him, but in his own brutal physicality as well. The tangled dreams of father and son; their intense, injured love for each other; and the family’s legacy of lies and aggrieved loyalty imbue “Death of a Salesman” with weary transcendence. Through May 18. 202/488-3300

• The Happy Time — Signature Theatre — … Signature’s winsome chamber-musical revival of the seldom seen 1968 Kander and Ebb show “The Happy Time” is both a coming-of-age story for a young boy (the excellent Jace Casey) and the end of a protracted adolescence for the show’s hero, Jacques (Michael Minarik), a jaunty reprobate. Directed by Michael Unger, this revision brings back four numbers snipped from the original Broadway production (a Tony winner for star Robert Goulet and director-choreographer Gower Champion). “The Happy Time” is about nostalgia and smudged memory, and the score is appropriately Old World and sentimental, from the carousel strains detected in the waltz rhythms of the catchy title tune to the can-can naughtiness of “Catch My Garter” and the bittersweet tinge of “I Don’t Remember You.” Through June 1. 703/573-7328

• The History Boys Studio Theatre— —…. Alan Bennett’s play considers in a hugely enjoyable and thought-provoking fashion the question of whether the purpose of education is inspiration or a leg up on life. A hit on both London’s West End and on Broadway, “The History Boys” gets the Joy Zinoman treatment at Studio Theatre in a fluid, stirring production that emphasizes the social and political aspects of the play. Taking a subdued, reserved approach to the beloved Hector, the kind of teacher one never forgets, Floyd King provides the audience with one emotional high after another. Through May 18. 202/232-3200.

• Kiss of the Spider Woman — Signature Theatre — … Director Eric Schaeffer’s grim, almost masochistic production of John Kander and Fred Ebb’s 1993 musical makes up in broody atmosphere what it lacks in romantic fantasy. “Kiss” tells the affecting love story that develops between two men sharing an Argentine prison cell, a fey window dresser named Molina (Hunter Foster) and a socialist radical named Valentin (Will Chase). With his vivid retellings of movies starring his favorite actress, Aurora, Molina uses his imagination to cushion the pair’s physical and psychological tortures. Aurora’s fantasy numbers, featuring Karma Camp’s clever Busby Berkeley-style choreography, are witty parodies of movie standards. Mr. Foster and Mr. Chase are poignant and entirely believable as unlikely compadres who take comfort and strength in each other. Unfortunately, Mr. Foster’s voice was not up to the Kander-and-Ebb score. Closes Sunday. 703/820-9771.

Looking for Roberto Clemente Imagination Stage — … This world-premiere children’s musical features a buoyant rock score that harkens back to the days of the Jackson Five and 1970s supergroups with tuneful lessons that delve into the nature of heroism. Set in Pittsburgh in 1972, it centers on the impact Clemente’s 3,000th hit has on the life of Sam, an 11-year-old fan, and his friends. Sam is a slugger in his mind and nervous on the field, so when a baseball crashes through his window while he’s listening to the landmark game on his transistor radio, he believes it is Clemente’s ball and imbues it with magical powers. Baseball lovers will find this show irresistible, and the music and the engaging and effervescent performances will captivate even the sports-shy. Through June 1. 301/280-1660.

• The Price — Theater J — … As Gregory Solomon, the debonairly cunning Jewish furniture appraiser in Arthur Miller’s 1968 play, actor Robert Prosky mines the comic and poignant aspects of both advanced age and a lifetime of haggling to provide the only glints of warmth and playfulness in this bitter, often dour probe into sibling rivalry and family dynamics. Mr. Prosky’s real-life sons Andrew (who physically resembles his father) and John play Solomon’s battling sons. Mr. Prosky and Andrew’s relaxed, bantering brings out teasing and humorous elements in this somber drama. However, confrontations between the two brothers that should be revelatory and searing seem, instead, shouty and showy. Closes tonight. 800/494-TIXS.

• A View From the Bridge — Arena Stage in Crystal City — …. Obsessive love taints the family dynamic and modest ambitions of Eddie Carbone (Delaney Williams), a Brooklyn longshoreman and the injured heart of this searing, startlingly alive production of Arthur Miller’s play. The dark depths of Eddie’s attraction for his niece Catherine (the disturbingly guileless Virginia Kull) boil over when his wife’s illegal Sicilian immigrant cousins, Marco (a brooding, tightly coiled Louis Cancelmi) and Rodolpho (blond, dapper and charming David Agranov) join the household and Catherine falls in love with the latter. Mr. Williams unforgettably portrays Eddie as a big palooka struggling to express himself in words and disintegrating before our eyes. Daniel Aukin’s direction emphasizes the effect of too many bodies crammed into tight spaces. Through May 17. 202/ 488-3300


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