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Theatre Reviews

Plenty of gore and breathtaking power, but at 2¾ hours, it demands staying power

The online gore-ometer measuring gallons of blood spilled in The U.S. Naval Academy Masqueraders’ production of Titus Andronicus reached five gallons after opening night. With nine onstage murders, one rape, six dismemberments and one incidence of cannibalism, the midshipmen were determined to milk Shakespeare’s bloodiest play for every drop.

It will make good memories for the months the company revamps

With Crimes of the Heart, Dignity Players closes a season devoted to love conquers all and adds a new dimension to its billing as “theatre for change.”     After wowing audiences for eight years without technical smoke and mirrors, Dignity Players is upgrading its theatrical infrastructure. Crimes of the Heart, a family drama, makes good memories to carry through the six months when the theater goes dark.

Yes, it’s scary. My nails prove it.

Twin Beach Players works Gothic magic recreating Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in North Beach Boys and Girls Club’s gymnasium. On opening night, the 14-year-old community company sent a full house back in time to 1816, into Dr. Frankenstein’s madness and Arctic ice.     From the front row, I watched every detail, biting my nails. I’d have none were it not for Tyschka’s hilarious Grandmother, a welcome relief from the sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat dramatics and horror.

Compass Rose Studio Theatre sets a new standard for a classic

Now playing at Compass Rose Studio Theatre is a powerful, moving production of an American classic. The Pulitzer Prize went to Harper Lee in her first and only novel, and Oscars for the 1962 film went to Gregory Peck and to Horton Foote for his screenplay adaptation.  

The consequences of a moment last a lifetime

Remember the worst thing you ever said, the words you wish you could take back? The worst thing you ever, the act you wish you could undo? Of course we do, which is why Athol Fugard’s award-winning Master Harold … and the boys is so riveting.

Bowie Community Theatre’s Dracula
 

Time is short, and it’s bloody frightful. This much we sense from the moment we enter the theater, where a towering clock face in crimson and coal looms over the stage, its second hand racing. A vampire feasts on a maiden. A rampaging lunatic cackles and cowers. Scrim up. Welcome to The Bowie Community Theater’s Dracula, an ­otherwise pallid reflection of a classic.

You’ll still find enchantment in this 63-year-old spell

Colonial Players opens its 64th season with a third take on Bell, Book and Candle a whimsical comedy about the power of love.     Written by John van Druten in 1949 and better known as the 1958 movie, Bell, Book and Candle asks the same questions Bewitched asked many years later on television. Can a witch fall in love with a human? What happens if she does?

Discovery is half the fun in 2nd Star’s Bloody Murder

The marquee outside the Bowie Playhouse is only slightly exaggerating in promising You’ll Die Laughing at 2nd Star Productions’ season opener, Bloody Murder. This is far and away the best non-musical I’ve ever seen under this roof. A creative new show from a new playwright, it’s just the thing for audiences who like to think outside the box and appreciate brainteasers, puns and Brit-bashing.

Irrepressible fun!

Spoiler alert for readers not current on 1980s’ kitsch: The musical Xanadu has nothing to do with Citizen Kane or with Coleridge’s poem of the same name. The motif of creating a stately pleasure dome, however, does link all three disparate references to Xanadu.

Four versatile boys take on Romeo and Juliet

Is Shakespeare R&J a new take on Romeo and Juliet — or a throwback to the theater before King Charles II when women were not allowed on stage and men played all the roles?     Playwright Joe Calarco has reset Romeo and Juliet in a Catholic New England boarding school for boys. Reading Romeo and Juliet is forbidden. Why we never know, though the boys’ reaction may be reason enough.