- The Washington Times - Friday, February 27, 2009

NOW PLAYING

DanteSynetic Theater — ★★★★ The road to Hell is paved with good inventions in Synetic Theater’s “Dante,” a divinely inspired adaptation of Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy.” Sin and corruption become this movement-based, startlingly physical theater troupe under the direction of Paata Tsikurishvili and dancer-choreographer Irina Tsikurishvili. As they proved with previous productions of “Faust,” “Dracula” and “Fall of the House of Usher,” no one portrays the undead and the demonic with more panache and visual artistry than Synetic. This version of Dante’s poetic masterpiece dwells mostly in Inferno but gives us a brief glimpse of Purgatory and Paradise in the beatific, cleansing denouement. Through March 22. 800/494-8497

A Delicate BalanceArena Stage at Crystal City — ★★★½ Arena goes back to its roots for this gleaming production, notable not only for capturing the classy uppercuts of Edward Albee’s upper-crust dialogue, but also for the look of the show. The trappings of East Coast gentry are Mr. Albee’s milieu, and few playwrights capture the neuroses and velvet-shrouded prickliness of this world with such precise wit and insight. In “A Delicate Balance,” which premiered on Broadway in 1966, Mr. Albee examines the domestic lies that bind — and enmesh — a suburban WASP family undergoing a startling invasion. Through March 15. 202/488-3300

EurydiceRound House Theatre — ★★★ With playful touches of surrealism and artfully elliptical language, playwright Sarah Ruhl re-imagines the Orpheus myth from the female point of view in this graceful, seriocomic look at love, loss and the stillness of memory at Round House Theatre under the direction of Derek Goldman. In Miss Ruhl’s modernistic and mournful version, Orpheus (Adriano Gatto) gnashes his teeth and pens frenzied love letters to his love, but in actuality, Eurydice (Jenna Sokolowski) takes the more potent journey. Through Sunday. 240/644-1387

The Heavens Are Hung in BlackFord’s Theatre — ★ It’s an accepted fact that Abraham Lincoln loved theater, especially Shakespeare. Hard to say what he would make of “The Heavens Are Hung in Black,” a world-premiere commission by Ford’s Theatre to commemorate the great man’s 200th birthday. You probably could surmise, though, that he would rather be at one his wife’s cockamamie seances than endure this loggy and incongruously wacky play. Through March 8. 800/899-2367

The Little Dog LaughedSignature Theatre — ★★★ A delectably caustic comedy of manners that satirizes the movie industry and our citizenry’s relentless pursuit of happiness. Playwright Douglas Carter Beane is a throwback to such noted wordsmiths as Noel Coward and S.J. Perelman in the sophisticated sparkle of his writing. Adding to the fizz of Signature’s production of “Little Dog,” directed by Michael Baron, is a dandy ensemble cast, including Holly Twyford, Matthew Montelongo, Casie Platt and Ivan Quintanilla, who are more than up to the physical and mental gymnastics the comedy demands. Through March 15. 703/573-7328

PluckBethesda Theatre — ★★★½ The sinking of the Titanic might not immediately spring to mind as fertile fodder for comedy, but the musical “Pluck” finds mirth in the maritime disaster. A British import and Edinburgh Fringe crowd-pleaser, “Pluck” combines slapstick and sonatas in a whimsical tribute to the musicians who — legend has it — played on bravely and went down with the ship. The trio of (violinist) Adrian Garratt, (violist) Jon Regan and (cellist) Sian Kadifachi are proficient musicians as well as agile practitioners of the physical, silent-movie style of comedy that would have been in vogue around 1912. Through Sunday. 800/551-7328

The Winter’s TaleFolger Elizabethan Theatre — ★★★ Director Blake Robison crafts a redolent bedtime story for adults with his visually resplendent production of Shakespeare’s 17th-century work. Written in 1611, “Tale” is considered late Shakespeare and falls into the often misleading category of the “problem plays.” If done well, the Bard’s plays are not problematic, and in the case of “The Winter’s Tale,” some of the knotty issues center on the rather abrupt jump from tragedy to comedy. Mr. Robison and his assured cast handle the improbabilities with style and grace in a contemporary staging that emphasizes the dreamy, fairy-tale aspects of the play. Through March 8. 202/544-7077

Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation MythImagination Stage — ★★★½ This hare-raisingly entertaining show, written and directed by District hip-hop artist Psalmayene 24, features a main character who is a natural successor to the wisecracking coolness of Bugs Bunny. Clever rapper Zomo (Baye Harrell, adroitly playing a rascal with an upright side) is plagued not by the likes of Elmer Fudd and Wile E. Coyote, but by his conscience. Some of the aspects of turning African lore into contemporary street culture seem like a stretch, but Psalmayene 24 shows an abundance of creativity and bigheartedness. Through March 8. 301/280-1660

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

Compiled by Jayne Blanchard

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