- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2008

OPENING

• August Wilson’s 20th Century: Radio Golf — Kennedy Center Terrace Theater — Staged readings by 30 well-known actors of the playwright’s cycle of 10 plays, each chronicling a different decade of the 20th century. “Radio Golf” takes place in the 1990s. Opens tonight. Performances tonight, Saturday and April 6. Sold out. 202/467-4600

• Bodas de Sangre/Blood Wedding — GALA Hispanic Theatre at the Tivoli — Garcia Lorca’s 1933 story of young lovers trapped by the repressive traditions of Andalusia. In Spanish with English surtitles. Opens Thursday. Through April 27. 202/234-7174, 800/494-8497

• Kander & Ebb Celebration: The Happy Time — Signature Theatre — A world traveler returns to his hometown in French Canada and oversees his nephew’s coming of age in Kander and Ebb’s 1968 Broadway musical. Opens Tuesday. Through June 1. 703/820-9771

• Lord of the Flies — Round House Theatre — William Golding’s tale of well-behaved schoolboys turned monsters. Opens Wednesday. Through April 27. 202/644-1100

• Smokey Joe’s Cafe — Bethesda Theatre — The longest-running musical revue in Broadway history, with songs by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Opens Thursday. Through June 8. 301/657-7827

NOW PLAYING

• All That I Will Ever Be — Studio Theatre — ** Alan Ball, who wrote the screenplay for “American Beauty” and the HBO series “Six Feet Under,” is known for his skillful exposure of shallowness and bad behavior among America’s privileged classes. Here, true to form, the elite of Los Angeles deign to mingle with the rabble. There is no smoother operator than Omar, a hustler who purrs and becomes Iranian, Greek or Egyptian, confident that most Americans are so ignorant about geography, ethnicity and world history that his impostures will pass undetected. Trouble is, Omar (Carlos Candelario in a groundbreaking performance that is at once overtly physical and cerebral) has been lying so long, he has mislaid his identity. When he embarks on a romantic relationship with a perceptive pothead layabout, he strives for emotional honesty but finds baring his soul is completely different from baring his body. However, intimacy built on deceit is a mirage, and Omar finally realizes that the only thing he’s good for — and the only thing people want from him — is the illusion. Though the play contains whip-smart dialogue and shockingly visceral language and sex acts, it is an empty vessel — Neil LaBute light. Everyone talks about emotional intimacy, but you never feel it. Ultimately, you wonder what Mr. Ball was striving to achieve in this dispiriting diatribe on racial profiling and the selling of sex. Closes Sunday. 202/332-3300.

• Kiss of the Spider Woman — Signature Theatre — *** Director Eric Schaeffer’s vision for John Kander and Fred Ebb’s 1993 musical shuns Broadway glitz for a severe production that emphasizes dehumanizing elements while telling an affecting love story that develops between two men. Cinematic escapism blends with the harsh realities faced by Molina (Hunter Foster), a fey window dresser, and a socialist radical named Valentin (Will Chase) as they share a cell in an Argentine prison. 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 with the prisoners sprung magically from their cells to become hunky chorus boys who accompany her in fiery rumbas and tangos. 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. Mr. Chase’s impassioned Valentin had no such problems in a grim, almost masochistic production that makes up in broody atmosphere what it lacks in romantic fantasy. Through April 20. 703/820-9771.

• Macbeth — The Folger Theatre — ***1/2 — Houdini and haggis merge in Teller (the silent partner in the magic act Penn and Teller) and co-director Aaron Posner’s flamboyantly blood-soaked version of “Macbeth,” an exultant melange of Jacobean tragedy, Grand Guignol thrill show and manga comic book. “Macbeth” is one of Shakespeare’s shortest and most violent plays, and Teller takes this to gore-dripping heart with a production at the Folger that makes Tim Burton’s “Sweeney Todd” seem merely a flesh wound. Severed heads populate the stage like skewered cherry tomatoes, and daggers seem naked when not slathered in crimson. The production’s teeming thrills and chills include Scottish assassins and ghosts popping up all over Daniel Conway’s two-level set (indeed, all over the theater). Nerve-racking “Psycho”-like music by Kenny Wollesen adds a nifty effect in the Banquo’s ghost scene (Banquo being played in this life and the next with sensitivity by Paul Morella). In many productions, the minor characters often seem like parts of a glorified body count, but the Folger’s staging contains many beautifully delineated performances, including some deftly boozy ruminating by the Porter (Eric Hissom, in a dual role), Cody Nickell as the great-hearted warrior Macduff and Karen Peakes as the doomed but undaunted Lady Macduff. The pairing of Shakespeare with the magic of Teller is ingenious, providing the audience with spine-tingling moments pricked with ghoulish good humor. 202/544-7077. Sold out. Through April 13.

• The Price — Theater J — **1/2 Actor Robert Prosky delivers a performance of deep charm as Gregory Solomon, the debonairly cunning Jewish furniture appraiser in Arthur Miller’s 1968 play. He adeptly 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 Mr. Miller’s bitter and often dour probe into sibling rivalry and family dynamics. What Theater J’s production, directed by Michael Carleton, has going for it is the chance to see the legendary Mr. Prosky onstage once again and also the potentially intriguing casting of Mr. Prosky’s real-life sons Andrew and John as Solomon’s battling sons. Mr. Prosky and Andrew (who physically resembles his father) establish a relaxed, bantering rhythm that brings out teasing and humorous elements in this somber drama. Confrontations between the two brothers should be revelatory and searing as they peel back the layers of resentment and revisionist history until they are faced with the ugly truth of who their father truly was — and the men he molded them into. Instead, the skirmishes seem shouty and showy. Through April 18. 800/494-TIXS.

• Stunning — Woolly Mammoth Theater Company — **** David Adjmi’s world-premiere receives a sensational production under the beautifully intuitive direction of Anne Kauffman. Provocative, smart and stinging, “Stunning” takes audiences into the ludicrously materialistic, ultramacho and acutely trend-conscious cosseted world of Syrian Jews living in Brooklyn, N.Y., yet speaks brashly and unsparingly about racial identity as a whole and what is gained and lost by assimilation and exposure to other cultures. He portrays his people with familiarity rather than affection. The result is a gorgeous, bitingly humorous assemblage of glittering monsters. Through April 6. 202/393-3939.

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

Jayne Blanchard

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