DC Theater Friday: Selections begin with ‘The Select’

Hemingway rises onstage.

The weekly feature of what’s happening on Washington stages.

Best bet: the Shakespeare Theatre Company, riding high with Mike Bartlett’s dashing new Shakespeare-style “King Charles III” at Harman Hall and “The Select (The Sun Also Rises)” in the Lansburgh, courtesy of New York’s Elevator Repair Service.

Lots on the last-chance list this weekend; check the closing slate before it’s too late.

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“Coolatully.” Solas Nua presents the U.S. premiere of Fiona Doyle’s play about an Irish town post-“Celtic Tiger.” March 9-26 at Flashpoint, 916 G St. NW. Tickets $38. Call 202-315-1317 or visit solasnua.org.

“Fickle: A Fancy French Farce.” L.A.-based playwright Meg Miroshnik brushes up her Marivaux, giving Pierre de Marivaux’s 18th-century comedy a fresh spin in this premiere adaptation of “The Double Inconstancy” (in which a prince abducts a young woman from her lover). Through March 26 at the Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Rd., Olney. Tickets $38-$90. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org .

“Intelligence.” Arena Stage takes on the Valerie Plame affair in this premiere by Jacqueline E. Lawton. Billed as “historical fiction,” it nevertheless explores what happens when a covert operative’s identity is deliberately blown by her government, featuring actress Hannah Yelland as Plame and Lawrence Redmond as Plame’s husband, Joseph Wilson. Through April 9 at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW. Tickets $90-$110. Call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org.

“Marx in Soho.” The small female-centric troupe Nu Sass Productions presents historian Howard Zinn’s solo play, with Mary Myers as Marx. March 9-April 2 at Caos on F, 923 F St. NW. Tickets $30. Call 315-783-6650 or visit nusass.com.

“Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing.” A new play with music by Pulitzer winner James Lapine (“Sunday in the Park With George”), based on the peculiar true 1960s case of Elva Miller, who couldn’t really sing — but did. Starring Debra Monk and directed by Lapine. Through March 26 at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Tickets $40-$100. Call 703-820-9771 or visit sigtheatre.org .

“Three Sisters.” Anton Chekhov’s play directed by Jackson Gay and, starting March 16, sharing a cast and running in tandem with Aaron Posner’s new “No Sisters.” March 8-April 23 at Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW. Tickets $20-$80. Call 202-332-3300 or visit studiotheatre.org.


“Brother Mario.” Chekhov meets Super Mario Brothers. “Essentially a one-gag skit saddled with way too much plot, the play becomes very tedious as it wends toward the 100-minute mark. But there is no quibbling with its bold comic premise. . . . The mash-up of the Super Mario landscape and Chekhovian themes and traits — restless discontent, yearning and resignation, a tendency toward self­-absorption, a brooding awareness of time, etc. — can be hilarious. In an early sequence, Daisy and Rosalina (Natalie Boland and Megan Reichelt) are playing a world-weary card game with Peach while waiting for Mario: The scene could have come straight out of ‘Three Sisters,’ except that the women are talking about castles and kidnappings.” (Celia Wren) Through March 12 at The Writer’s Center, 4508 Walsh St., Bethesda. Tickets $20-$30. Visit flyingvtheatre.com.

“The Gin Game.” A revival of the understated 1977 Pulitzer winner about two people fussing about aging and cards in an old folks’ home, by D.L. Coburn. “If the actors aren’t absolutely crystalline with the nuances, they’re still very good, and under the direction of Thomas W. Jones II, Doug Brown and Roz White look each other in the eye and create a competitive rapport. But as Fonsia wins every hand, it gets hard to take Weller’s hard-luck rants, and the brittle play doesn’t have any other moves.” (Nelson Pressley) Through March 12 at MetroStage, 1201 N. Royal St., Alexandria. Tickets $55-$60. Call 703-548-9044 or visit metrostage.org.

“The Gospel at Colonus.” The Oedipus tragedy told gospel style. “ ‘The Gospel at Colonus’ was a 1980s phenomenon engineered by Mabou Mines ringleader Lee Breuer, who brought his prestige hit from New York to Arena Stage in 1984 with a cast (hold your breath) of 57 that included Morgan Freeman. Director Jennifer Nelson’s production is big for its stage, too: The cast of 10 is augmented by seven singers of minister Becky Mays Jenkins’s Women’s Ecumenical Choir. The grace of the show, though, is that it never feels swollen or pushy. It’s as dignified as church, even when it raises the roof.” (Nelson Pressley) Through March 26 at the Gunston Arts Center Theater II, 2700 S. Lang St., Arlington. Tickets $30-$35. Call 703-998-4555 or visit wscavantbard.org.

“The How and the Why.” Sarah Treem’s play about two female biologists. “The co-creator and showrunner of Showtime’s ‘The Affair,’ and a past writer for HBO’s ‘In Treatment’ and Netflix’s ‘House of Cards,’ Treem movingly depicts two characters who burn with passion for ideas but struggle to understand each other’s attitudes and choices. The portrait of female scientists fighting for professional recognition and personal contentment has obvious resonance at a time when protesters have defiantly embraced the insult ‘nasty woman’ and a ‘March for Science’ is in the works. But ‘The How and the Why’ also reflects broadly on the nature of social bonds and the perspective that’s gained with aging.” (Celia Wren) Through March 12 at Theater J, 1529 16th St. NW. Tickets $30-$64. Call 202-777-3210 or visit theaterj.org.

“King Charles III.” Mike Bartlett’s play in Shakespearean language imagining the next transition in the British monarchy. “The confrontation between Parliament and Buckingham Palace plays out as an entertaining study of the challenge of maintaining a constitutional monarchy in the modern world. A figure like Charles, whom we all imagine to have been champing at the bit all these years as he waited for mum to depart the scene, seems the right sort of personality to upend a government’s expectations for royal docility. When Charles takes his principled stand and makes an enemy of the prime minister, the playwright has the opportunity to explore the question of what relevance there is today for a ruler who is not a ruler, who must make his mark not by command, but by intellectual stealth and the fine print in official texts.” (Peter Marks) Through March 18 at Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW. Call 202-547-1122 or visit shakespearetheatre.org.

“Peter & the Starcatcher.” Constellation Theatre Company brings its flair for mini-spectacle to the boisterous off-Broadway hit about Peter Pan. “Irresistible. . . . Many of the show’s best moments feature actors meshing together in ensemble sequences, such as a shipboard battle or a line of warbling mermaids. Sometimes the performers animate, or transform into, physical objects, including island boulders and the shards of a shattered mirror. Impressively, the ensemble movement never looks busy or cluttered; it simply conjures up one clear, lively image after another.” (Celia Wren) Through March 12 at Constellation Theatre Company, 1835 14th St. NW. Call 202-204-7741 or visit constellationtheatre.org.

“The Select (The Sun Also Rises).” “Hemingway lovers will find much to savor in this inventive account of ‘The Sun Also Rises,’ which uses the author’s words exclusively, edited down to 3 hours 15 minutes of exposition. The early sequences of the production, brought to Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Lansburgh Theatre by New York-based Elevator Repair Service, are a bit slow going: As with many a novel, you have to be willing to stick with it. On Monday night, a sizable chunk of the audience lost patience and left at intermission. Which is a shame, because those who stayed were immersed ever more compellingly in the troupe’s stagecraft, an enjoyable grab bag of sound effects and other imaginative narrative devices, orchestrated by director John Collins.” (Peter Marks) Through April 2 at the Lansburgh Theatre, 450 Seventh St. NW. Tickets $44-$118. Call 202-547-1122 or visit shakespearetheatre.org .

“The Taming of the Shrew.” “Synetic Theater traditionally handles Shakespeare with movement and no words, and the language of ‘Shrew’ is a parade of pique and fashion as adaptor-director Paata Tsikurishvili sets the story in a tabloid-mad Hollywood (or ‘Paduawood,’ as Tinseltown is styled in this version). . . . Moving to the electro-pop pings and blips of Konstantine Lortkipanidze’s score, ­Tsikurishvili’s Katherina terrorizes the paparazzi and tries to discipline her flirty younger sister, Bianca (the ready-to-dance Nutsa Tediashvili, excellent with the giddy shimmies). Katherina’s fits aren’t especially nuanced, but Tsikurishvili’s command makes it hard to look away.” (Nelson Pressley) Through March 19 at Synetic Theater, 1800 S. Bell St., Crystal City. Tickets $35-$60. Call 866-811-4111 or visit synetictheater.org.


“As You Like It.” “The comedy with Rosalind and offbeat exiles fleeing a fascist court and bumbling through the forest of Arden. Gaye Taylor Upchurch’s modern dress production at Folger Theatre (in association with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival) sets its action against original blues tunes and hip-hop rhythms, with actors strumming guitars and hooting into kazoos like hippies in the woods. The strength of Upchurch’s vision, though, is the cast of romantic clowns. Love, the show says, is nuts.” (Nelson Pressley) Through March 5 at Folger Theatre, 201 East Capitol St. SE. Tickets $35-$75. Call 202-544-7077 or visit folger.edu.

“Blues in the Night.” The revue of vintage jazz and blues — Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith — was Tony nominated after its brief 1982 run. With a cast of four directed by Matt Conner at the intimate Creative Cauldron. Through March 5 at 410 S. Maple Ave., Falls Church. Tickets $20-$30. Call 703-436-9948 or visit creativecauldron.org.

“H2O.” “Deborah (Krenée A. Tolson) is a fervent evangelical Christian who’s eking out a living as an off-off-Broadway actor. Jake (Robbie Gay) is a pessimistic, foul-mouthed action-movie star who is as self-destructive as he is rich. After the two cross paths, as Jake prepares to play Hamlet on Broadway, he decides that only Deborah can portray his Ophelia. . . . These two people may be representatives of America’s ongoing culture wars — religious traditionalism vs. modern secularism, high culture vs. pop culture — but they are memorable individuals first.” (Celia Wren) Through March 5 at Rep Stage, 10901 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia, Md. Tickets $15-$40. Call 443-518-1500 or visit repstage.org.

“Sweeney Todd.” “Stephen Sondheim’s musical is a lip-smacking banquet, and while Jason Loewith’s staging at the Olney has a lot going for it, a few too many of this juicy potboiler’s most savory moments go down in a hasty gulp. Loewith goes big, raising a cinematic curtain (featuring a blood-dripping ‘Sweeney’ logo) on an imposing Victorian set. Sonically, too, the show aims for grandeur. Musical director Christopher Youstra’s orchestra is only nine strong, yet it suggests the original symphonic feeling with its dark woodwinds, crashing percussion and creepy muted trumpet. . . . Then there’s David Benoit, a burly, edgy, golden-throated Sweeney, a formidable centerpiece for the epic show this nearly is.” (Nelson Pressley) Through March 5 at Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Rd., Olney. Tickets $38-$80. Call 202-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.

“Trevor.” “A tragicomedy by Nick Jones, who has written for ‘Orange Is the New Black.’ In the play’s central conceit, the eponymous chimp expresses himself in English, just as [the human] Sandra does; we can understand him, while she can’t. Throughout director Alex Levy’s solid staging, however, words do just part of the work: Portraying the title character without any chimp costume or makeup, Doug Wilder adopts a lolling, crouching, simian physicality that — in conjunction with the character’s chatter — drives home the acuteness of Trevor’s plight.” (Celia Wren) Through March 5 at 1st Stage, 1524 Spring Hill Rd., McLean. Tickets $30. Call 703-854-1856 or visit 1ststagetysons.org.

“The Trojan Women.” Taffety Punk Theatre Company’s all-female Riot Grrrls wing tackles Euripides’s howl of war, with Brigid Cleary as Hecuba. “Even in a 50-seat theater such as the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop ‘The Trojan Women’ needs tragic stature, and Cleary’s lofty, penetrating lamentations and her sarcastic cross-examination of Helen — cause of the war — give the production grandeur and pain. Her rage is ferocious, and her icy disdain of Helen drips with righteous anger.” (Nelson Pressley) Through March 4 at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 Seventh St. SE. Tickets $15. Call 202-547-6839 or visit taffetypunk.com.

“The Very Last Days of the First Colored Circus.” “Exhaustive and exhausting at over three hours, this new play with music chronicles the challenges faced by African American circus performers in 1920s La Plata, Md. Their chief nemesis is the virulently racist white boss, and playwright Steven A. Butler Jr., drawing from his own family history, often goes on at length about what’s clear at a glance. The characters are heartfelt, though, and there’s a startlingly challenging — even harsh — musical sequence in the second act that makes you sit up straight (the songs are by Butler, director Courtney Baker-Oliver and Christopher John Burnett). The show is unwieldy, but the performers are good and the story is ambitious enough that you’re curious to see what Restoration Stage might do next.” (Nelson Pressley) Through March 5 at the Anacostia Playhouse, 2020 Shannon Pl. SE. Tickets $45-$55. Visit restorationstage.biz.

“Watch on the Rhine.” “We live in unsubtle times, which proves to be a fitting atmosphere for the bare-knuckled, good-vs.-evil symmetry of Arena Stage’s sure-handed revival of Lillian Hellman’s anti-fascist melodrama. . . . In the story of the return after 20 years to the suburban Washington mansion of Fanny Farrelly (Marsha Mason) by her daughter Sara (Lise Bruneau) and Sara’s Nazi-fighting husband, Kurt Müller (Andrew Long), some creakiness manifests itself. But its unvarnished righteousness also comes across at this particular instant as kind of refreshing.” (Peter Marks) Through March 5 at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW. Tickets $40-$110, subject to change. Call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org .

TYA (Theater for Young Audiences

“The Freshest Snow Whyte.” A new hip-hop version of the fairy tale for kids 5 and older from local writer-director Psalmeyene 24, with music by Nick “tha 1 da” Hernandez. Through March 18 at Imagination Stage, 4908 Auburn Ave., Bethesda. Tickets $10-$35. Call 301-280-1660 or visit imaginationstage.org.

“Ella Enchanted.” A world premiere adaptation of the Gail Carson Levine book (also known as a rather popular movie), written by Karen Zacarías, music by Deborah Wicks LaPuma, directed by Mary Hall Surface. Through March 19 at Adventure Theatre MTC, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. Tickets $19.50. Call 301-634-2270 or visit adventuretheatre-mtc.org.


The Capitol Steps. The longtime political satirists, tearing laughs from the headlines. Fridays and Saturdays in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center Amphitheater, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Tickets $40.50. Call 202-397-7328 or visit www.capsteps.com.

“Shear Madness.” The indestructible interactive comedy whodunit, at 12,000-plus performances. Ongoing in the Kennedy Center’s Theater Lab. Tickets $50-$54. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.

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