Theater;mini-Reviews

By Pressley, Nelson | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 26, 1998 | Go to article overview

Theater;mini-Reviews


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


OPENING

* 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. 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. Through May 10 . 202/393-2700.

* El Publico (The Public) - Teatro de la Luna. A drama by Federico Gracia Lorca, continuing Teatro de la Luna's seasonlong Lorca celebration. In Spanish, with simultaneous English translations available. At the Gunston Arts Center through April 11. 202/882-6227.

* The Steward of Christendom - Studio Theatre. Ted van Griethuysen stars in Irish writer Sebastian Barry's drama. Wednesday through May 3. 202/332-3300.

NOW PLAYING * Blues Rooms - Theatre of the First Amendment - (TWO STARS). The idea in this original musical is that different kinds of blues emanate from different rooms in the house. The kitchen is the locus of up-tempo funk, the bedroom can be a melancholy place, etc. The music by Olu Dara and his onstage band is the real thing, and much of Dianne McIntyre's choreography is graceful and dramatic. (Her own dancing is gloriously fluid.) But the project, with its thoughtful examples and literal summary, is academic and dry: It feels like a lesson. Through April 5. 703/993-8888.

* 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.

* Kudzu - Ford's Theatre - (THREE STARS). An amiable musical full of slowpoke 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. It's like seeing a pulp-fiction finish to a tragedy by Federico Garcia Lorca. In Spanish, with simultaneous English translation available. Through April 5. …

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