Theater;theater Mini-Reviews

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OPENING

* Conversation With A Diva - Actors' Theatre of Washington. A one-man show about a gay black man living with AIDS. At the Church Street Theater through March 24; 202/319-3939. Not reviewed.

* Side By Side By Sondheim - MetroStage. A musical revue of songs from composer Stephen Sondheim's 1960s and 1970s musicals. At the Marquee Lounge through March 31; 703/548-9044. Not reviewed.

NOW PLAYING

* All's Well That Ends Well - Shakespeare Theatre - (THREE AND ONE-HALF STARS). Director Laird Williamson fashions a warm fantasy out of Shakespeare's remarkably forgiving comedy, which is generally termed a "problem" play. Problems vanish by making Bertram (the count who Helena loves) more likeable, so the show goes romantic (rather than dark) in a gauzy, orangy production that is a delight to behold. The acting is lush and lucid, from Kelly McGillis's heroic, heartbroken Helena to Philip Goodwin's posing, pontificating Parolles. Through March 24; 202/393-2700.

* An Asian Jockey In Our Midst - Round House Theatre - (TWO AND ONE-HALF STARS). An ambitious drama that uses body-swapping and time travel in a search for the roots of and cure for a black man's Japan-bashing. Playwright Carter W. Lewis's storytelling rapidly sinks from funny to muddy, but the play ultimately comes out of the mist quite cleanly in director Scot Reese's well-acted production. Through Sunday; 301/933-1644.

* The God of Isaac - Washington Jewish Theatre. James Sherman's comedy about Jewish identity. Through March 10; 301/230-3775.

* Les Miserables - National Theatre - (TWO STARS). It isn't hard to see why this international musical hit is so popular: It's a simple tale of righteousness hounded by injustice; it's visually grandiose; and it's performed with chest-thumping passion. But the through-sung score is surprisingly bland (so are the blunt lyrics), and the show's complicated scenery and inflated music dwarf the characters in this black and white melodrama. It's an epic cartoon pretending to be grown up. Through April 28; 202/447-7400.

* Lynnwood Pharmacy - Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company - (TWO AND ONE-HALF STARS). Meet the Hicks: Johnny breaks into his own house, Ma totes a rifle and calls her boy "gahbage," and Dad cheerfully hobbles on a pair of canes and does all the housework. It's a farce, of course, and playwright David Bucci has an uncomplicated good time being trashy and irreverent. Kerry Waters, Steve Hadnagy and Hugh Nees anchor the vivid, foulmouthed cast. Through Sunday, March 3; 202/393-3939.

* The Magnificent Yankee - Ford's Theatre - (TWO STARS). Not so much a play about Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. as a monument to him. James Whitmore is energetic and full of common sense as Holmes, and Audra Lindley is placid and charming as Mrs. …