Theater;mini-Reviews

By Pressley, Nelson | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 19, 1998 | Go to article overview

Theater;mini-Reviews


Pressley, Nelson, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


OPENING

* Blues Rooms - Theatre of the First Amendment. An original blues tour by choreographer Dianne McIntyre{D-} and musical director Olu Dara. Through April 5. 703/993-8888.

* The Fix - Signature Theatre. The American premiere of a musical about presidential ambition and political high jinks. Through April 26 . 703/218-6500 or 800/955-5566.

* Man, Woman, Dinosaur - Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. Regina Porter's new play involving a haunted man, his wheelchair-bound mother and a new housekeeper. Wednesday through April 19. 703/218-6500.

* The Merry Wives of Windsor - Shakespeare Theatre. Daniel Fish directs and David Sabin stars as Falstaff in Shakespeare's comedy. Tuesday through May 10. 202/393-2700.

NOW PLAYING

* The Cherry Orchard - Source Theatre Company - (ONE AND ONE-HALF STARS). Director Joe Banno's impudent liberties usually count as additions, not subtractions. But Chekhov's play gets pushed awfully hard here; the references to everyone from Elvis to Nixon seem labored, and the core of the story - the yearning and frustration - is buried. It's Chekhov reduced to 1990s antic dysfunction. Through April 12. 202/884-0060.

* Defending the Caveman - Warner Theatre - (THREE STARS). Rob Becker's solo comedy about the differences between men and women may rely a bit too heavily on stereotypes of "guy" things and "gal" things. But his frumpy, harmless stage persona is engaging, and enough of the Old World order still applies to make "Caveman" - which is essentially an argument that all men are not idiots - pleasantly amusing. Through Sunday . 202/432-SEAT.

* The Hip Hop Nightmares of Jujube Brown - African Continuum Theatre Company - (TWO STARS). A two-character cycle of hip-hop poetry, backed by live grooves from an onstage DJ. The subject is Jujube Brown, the young title character, who kills a police officer. His motives are oblique; writers-performers Toni Blackman and Psalmayene 24 try to weave linguistic images and lay issues on the table, but they don't cut to the heart of Jujube's tale with any urgency. The ably performed show wants to pioneer a new form, but it doesn't fully exploit the energy of hip-hop or the forward thrust of drama. At Arena Stage's Old Vat Room through Sunday. 202/488-3300.

* Kudzu - Ford's Theatre - (THREE STARS). An amiable musical full of slow-poke Southern charm and eccentric humor. The plot is preposterously overgrown - but that's no problem, since this is a comic-book musical. The goofy story is brought to life by Doug Marlette's off-center comic sensibility and the delightful, varied music of the Red Clay Ramblers. The show takes a while to hit its stride, but by the second act, director Lisa Portes has it shifting smoothly between two and three dimensions. 703/218-6500.

* Lovers and Executioners - Arena Stage - (THREE STARS). Playwright John Strand takes wonderful liberties with Montfleury's 17th-century revenge comedy, and director Kyle Donnelly fashions the result into an evening that has you laughing like mad, then sitting on the edge of your seat wondering how things will turn out. The plot involves a man with a pattern of abusive behavior who gets brought to trial - with his wife (in disguise) as the judge. The story, apparently never performed on these shores, is a winner, and the cast is nearly perfect. Through April 5. 202/488-3300.

* La Malquerida (The Passionflower) - GALA Hispanic Theatre - (TWO AND ONE-HALF STARS). Jacinto Benavente's 1913 drama unfolds with dignity over its first two acts, then explodes in a paroxysm of passion so tawdry that the audience gasps and laughs at once. The story concerns a young woman whose fiance is murdered. Did her former lover do it - or was it her lusty stepfather? Issues of status and power bubble under the surface of director Hugo Medrano's moody, well-acted production, but the sheer shock value of the ending trumps everything. …

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