- Marriages turn to dust at Olney Theater.
“The one charm about marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties,” said Oscar Wilde. Dinner With Friends is about what happens when that deception unravels before the eyes of both partners. Over the course of a dinner, everything falls apart between two couples whose friendship is sustained by their marriages. When Beth (Peggy Yates) tells Karen (Julie-Ann Elliot) that her marriage to Tom (Jeffries Thaiss) is in jeopardy — lies, cheating, the usual suspects — Karen begins to question her marriage to Gabe (Paul Morella). Dinner with Friends, a Pulitzer winner by Donald Marguiles, makes liars of us all by revealing the little things that couples do to convince themselves they’re on solid ground.
The Maryland Renaissance Festival isn’t just a fantasy hangout for steampunk-costumed teenagers or dinners of ye olde giant turkey legs — it’s also a theatrical production with a cast of more than 70 actors, and a host of jugglers, acrobats and flea circus. This year’s story is of Henry VIII (Fred Nelson), who hopes to marry the widow Katherine Parr (Mary Ann Jung). But Parr is secretly in love with the handsome Sir Thomas Seymour (Michael Winchester, Jr.) and now she must choose between love and stature. Fie! Meanwhile, it’s village versus village, as the peons of Revel Grove and Tiddington vie for the King’s attention. There’s a huge cast of peasants, but if you encounter any of the washerwomen, please address them by their full names, which are Purity Grimes, Prudence Clearwater, and Penelope Scrubbins (Heather Scheeler, Beth Braden, and Nicole Mullins, respectively). Special celebrity guest appearance: Nicolaus Copernicus (John Sadowsky).
The Cirque du Soleil big top just went up, and already it’s teeming with insects. Ovo, the latest spectacle from the internationally-renowned circus company, has come to National Harbor, and it’s a show about nature’s creepy crawlies — ants, butterflies and ladybugs are among the show’s many characters. Considering the flying, web-spinning acrobatic feats of insects, it’s only surprising that one of the company’s dozens of shows hadn’t mined this territory earlier. While Ovo has a story line — a colony of insects try to understand a mysterious giant egg that has landed in their midst — it’s secondary to all the traditional acts that audiences have come to expect from Cirque, such as contortionists, trapeze artists and slackline performers. Cirque also dazzles with their elaborate costuming, a tradition they’ve maintained since the company started out as a Montreal-based street performance group. 26 years later, with Ovo among the 20 shows presented in 2010, they’ve certainly spread their wings.
Verdi’s political drama is based on a true story: In 1792, King Gustav III of Sweden was killed by political conspirators at a masked ball. An intriguing enough story on its own, but at the hands of Verdi and Antonio Somma, who wrote the libretto, it’s a heightened tale of a love triangle gone wrong. Gustavus (role shared by tenors Salvatore Licitra and Frank Porretta) loves Amelia (Sopranos Tamara Wilson and Susan Neves), the wife of his friend and advisor Count Anckarström (Luca Salsi and Timothy Mix), and when a fortune-teller advises him that the next man to shake his hand will be the person who assassinates him, Gustavus does not believe her, as he is greeted warmly by Anckarström. He can’t avoid his fate — as the court plans a masked ball, Anckarström has plans of his own.
“Look out kid, it’s something you did,” sang Bob Dylan, and Alison Moulton should have taken heed. A former member of a Weather Underground-inspired 60s radical liberal group, Moulton (Deborah Hazlett) has served more than 30 years in prison for her involvement in a protest bombing gone wrong – she stood and watched as one of the groups “symbolic” blasts killed an African American cop. Now, she’s up for parole and battling her former partner, Eugene Biddle (Rick Foucheux), who has gone on to do a political reversal: Overcompensating for his prior acts, he’s now a conservative commentator in the vein of Glenn Beck, and he’ll only assist with her parole if she’ll surrender the name of a person in the highest ranks of government who worked for her legal defense. Playwright Willy Holtzman’s dialogue is a little too snappy at moments, but his humor turns what would otherwise be a heavy prison drama into a wry, but still earnest examination of hypocrisy, tea party politics, race and baby boomer idealism.
Back to the void goes the Hirshhorn’s Yves Klein exhibition on Sept. 12, so this is your last chance to see the rare retrospective of the French artist’s short, but explosively creative life. Klein may be best known for the color that bears his name: International Klein Blue, a brilliant, hypnotic shade that epitomized “the void,” his concept of air, space and time, all of which he sought to conquer. Klein began his career painting monochromes of different hues, but for simplicity’s sake, he decided to paint in only one color: Blue. Klein was a prankster in his conceptual work, peevish and thoughtful – one work involved the presentation of a certificate in exchange for bars of gold, half of which were thrown into the Seine. He also famously once turned the urine of guests of his opening-night party blue. But his experiments in painting with fire and constructing roofs out of air, prove that there is no void large enough to contain this artist’s fast and furious creativity.