- The Washington Times - Friday, August 1, 2008

NOW PLAYING

The Lion KingKennedy Center — ★★★ This juggernaut of a musical is crammed with scenery, action, vibrant lighting effects, actors tumbling through space, musical power, an orchestra in the pit, a drummer on each side of the stage, belt-it-out soloists and a chorus, with most of the music by Elton John. Whether you’re enthralled by this Disney extravaganza probably will depend on your view of the Disney franchise. Through Aug. 24. 202/467-4600

Marat/SadeForum Theatre at H Street Playhouse — ★★★ Change and whip cracks electrify the air in this production, teetering on the edge of madness under the direction of Michael Dove. Combining delirious visual imagery and an original score by Jesse Terrill, this musical retelling of the French Revolution makes you think the world might be better off if the lunatics ran the asylum. “Marat/Sade” takes place in 1808, with the Marquis de Sade (an elegant Jonathon Church) overseeing his controversial and frequently mutinous work about the death of revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat (Danny Gavigan), stabbed in the heart while in the bath by Charlotte Corday (Katy Carkuff). The cast is disturbingly convincing as the asylum’s mental patients, especially Eric Messner as the twitchy and impassioned radical Jacques Roux, the sweetly drowsy Miss Carkuff as Corday, and Parker Dixon’s antsy, stalker performance as Cordays lover. Through Aug. 10. 202/489-1701

The OverwhelmingContemporary American Theater Festival — ★★★★ “The Overwhelming” focuses on the Twilight Zone of a Rwandan society as seen through the eyes of classic liberal professor Jack Exley (Lee Sellars). He has just arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, and brings along his new wife, Linda (Tijuana T. Ricks), who happens to be black, as well as his sullen but highly intelligent white son, Geoffrey (Graham Powell). Playing in repertory with other plays at the CATF at Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, W.Va. Through Sunday. 304/876-3473; 800/999-2283

Pig FarmContemporary American Theater Festival — ★★★ The surreal world of “Pig Farm” is not too far in the future, when Environmental Protection Agency enforcers pack the kind of heat and authority heretofore limited to G-men like Eliot Ness and the Untouchables. Tom (Lee Sellars) and Tina (Andrea Cirie) run a factorylike pig farm, supporting up to 15,000 porkers and the waste products they produce. Because of federal regulations, they have to cheat a bit around the edges to stay solvent. This attracts the attention of EPA agent Teddy (Anderson Matthews), who decides to try to shut them down. Things are complicated by the oversexed Tina’s desire for a baby a desire not on Tom’s agenda. Playing in repertory with other plays at the CATF at Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, W.Va. Through Sunday. 304/876-3473; 800/999-2283

Stick FlyContemporary American Theater Festival — ★★★ Playwright Lydia R. Diamond’s “Stick Fly” offers an unusual glimpse into the lives of a wealthy, dysfunctional black family summering on Martha’s Vineyard. Miss Diamond is extraordinarily successful, daring to examine the possibility that perhaps it’s not race, but social class and pressures that more strongly influence our personal outcomes. Playing in repertory with other plays at the CATF at Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, W.Va. Through Sunday. 304/876-3473; 800/999-2283

A View of the HarborContemporary American Theater Festival — ★ Playwright Richard Dresser takes us to coastal Maine to explore the lives of a declining family of wealthy white industrialists who seem more unhappy than anyone alive, excepting the patriarch of the family, the seemingly heartless Daniel (rousingly portrayed by Anderson Matthews). Sadly, Mr. Dresser’s play is not up to the standards of his earlier installments. Worse, actors fumbled their lines, indicating some changes may have been made during rehearsals. Playing in repertory with other plays at the CATF at Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, W.Va. Through Sunday. 304/876-3473; 800/999-2283

WrecksContemporary American Theater Festival — ★★★★ With “Wrecks,” audience members are instantly greeted by a somber person in a black suit who offers them seating upon entering the theater. They find themselves at a wake in a funeral parlor. A man enters and begins to speak. He is Edward Carr (Kurt Zischke). His late wife is in the casket. Carr rambles on about his beloved spouse, gradually filling in the story of their strange and passionate relationship. The trick is to listen carefully to Neil LaBute’s subtle dialogue. Clues to a deeper story are revealed at the last moment, transforming “Wrecks” into an odd whodunit with a big surprise. Playing in repertory with other plays at the CATF at Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, W.Va. Through Sunday. 304/876-3473; 800/999-2283

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

Compiled by Jayne Blanchard, Jean Battey Lewis and T.L. Ponick

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