- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2008

OPENING

• Closing Time — Keegan Theatre’s New Island Project at Theatre on the Run — The American premiere of Owen McCafferty’s dark, gloomy 2002 play about dark, doomed drunks in a dark, doomed Belfast pub. Opens Thursday. Through June 7. 703/892-0202, ext. 2

• MoLoRa — Kay Theatre, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center — Yael Farber adapts the bloody “Oresteia” to the atrocities of apartheid-era South Africa as seen through a session of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. With Xhosa singers and musicians of the Ngqoko Cultural Group as chorus. One performance only, tonight at 8. 301/405-ARTS

NOW PLAYING

• Crumble (Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake) — Catalyst Theater Company at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop — A lonely girl fantasizes about Justin Timberlake, her widowed mother fantasizes about Harrison Ford, and their apartment suffers in Sheila Callaghan’s play. Through June 7. 202/494-3776



• David in Shadow and Light — Theater J — World-premiere musical retelling of King David’s arc from boy shepherd to aging king. Through June 22. 202/518-9400, 800/494-8497

• 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 Color Purple —Hippodrome Theatre — ***1/2 Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel transfers to the stage with its toughness and soaring sense of triumph intact and heightened by a score that’s a multitextured tapestry of blues, funk, gospel, boogie-woogie and contemporary soul-pop. “The Color Purple” tells a story of transcendence and redemption as seen through the eyes of Celie (Jeannette Bayardelle, a singer and actress of staggering power), a poor and embattled black woman living in the rural South from 1911 through the 1940s. It also depicts Celie’s escape from the men who tried to extinguish her spirit — first, her pedophile father (Quentin Earl Darrington) and then her mean and controlling husband, Mister (Rufus Bonds Jr., who allows us to see the tortured humanity within a tyrant). The musical numbers, which flow seamlessly into one another, also give the show buoyancy and grit. Through May 18. 800/547-7328

• 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. Through June 1. 703/573-7328

• The History Boys Studio Theatre— —***1/23 and a half starsy 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 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 character 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.

• Mad Breed — Active Cultures Theatre at Joe’s Movement Emporium — A black freewoman with Shakespearean dreams shows up to complicate a play staged by John Wilkes Booth’s teenage siblings. Through June 1. 301/526-9921

• The School for Scandal — Folger Theatre — Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 1777 comedy of very bad manners and irresistible folly. Through June 15. 202/544-7077

• 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 1972 Pittsburgh, the musical centers on the impact Roberto Clemente’s 3,000th hit has on the life of Sam, an 11-year-old fan, and his friends. Through June 1. 301/280-1660.

• The Screwtape Letters — Landsburgh Theatre — ***1/2 Christian writer C.S. Lewis’ 1942 book (and the two-person play adaptation) is a dapper, elegant affair — 31 letters penned by an upper-level demon named Screwtape (Max McLean) to his nephew and protege, Wormwood, that boil over with wit and brimstone. Screwtape has taken Wormwood under his dark wing and instructs him on how to lead the Patient — a man living in wartime England — down the road to perdition. Screwtape’s correspondence is written with such stylish charm — and is so eloquently delivered by Mr. McLean, who whips himself up into a demonic froth by the end — that it does not seem remotely like a sanctimonious Sunday school lesson. Through May 18. 202/547-1122

• A View From the Bridge — Arena Stage in Crystal City — ***1/2 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

• Volvio una Noche/She Returned One Night — Teatro de la Luna at Gunston Theatre Two — An underachiever is prodded to succeed by his dead mother, whom only he can see and hear. Through May 31. 202/882-6227

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

Jayne Blanchard

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