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

Try not to read too much into the dementia-themed plays now swarming the stages of the nation’s capital — “The Father” at Studio Theatre, “Kaleidoscope” at Creative Cauldron, “Proof” at the Olney Theatre Center, “The Man Who” from Spooky Action, even WSC Avant Bard’s “King Lear.” It’s just a phase.

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“Hir.” Taylor Mac’s absurd comedy about a son returning from war, and whose brother is now his transgender sister. May 22-June 18 Woolly Mammoth Theatre, 641 D St. NW. Tickets $20-$74. Call 202-393-3939 or visit .

[Peter Marks talks with Taylor Mac]

“King Lear.” Rick Foucheux plays Shakespeare’s troubled monarch. May 25-June 25 at the Gunston Arts Center, 2700 S. Lang St., Arlington. Tickets $30-$35. Call 703-418-4808 or visit .

“Proof.” Dawn Ursula leads the cast in David Auburn’s Pulitzer winner about a young woman who may have her father’s math genius and/or his mental illness. Timothy Douglas directs. Through June 18 at the Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Rd., Olney. Tickets $50-$70. Call 301-924-3400 or visit

“Ulysses on Bottles.” Ulysses is an Israeli-Arab teacher and the bottles make up a raft he uses to sail past a blockade toward Gaza in Gilad Evron’s drama, part of Mosaic Theater Company’s Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival. Through June 11 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets $15-$60. Call 202-399-7993 or visit .

“Urinetown.” The return of the political satire. May 25-June 25 at Next Stop Theatre, 269 Sunset Park Dr., Herndon. Tickets $40, subject to change. Call 866-811-4111 or visit .

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“The Arabian Nights.” “Typically, Allison Arkell Stockman’s ‘Arabian Nights’ looks great, and the performers undulate and swirl to the various pulsations supplied by Tom Teasley, who is visible amid a semicircle of instruments at the back of the stage. Veronica del Cerro centers the action as a fervent, persuasive Scheherezade, calming the wounded vengeance of the prince (an imposing, brooding Ryan Sellers) who beheads mistresses until her pointed stories beguile and soften him. Stockman’s second act is especially compelling: the antsy tone turns reflective, and a late scene about the power of art becomes a beautiful fugue of voices.” (Nelson Pressley) Through June 4 at Source, 1835 14th St. NW. Tickets $20-$45. Call 202-204-7800 or visit .

[Nelson Pressley on “Arabian Nights” and “Outside Mullingar”]

“Building the Wall.” The brand-new play from Robert Schenkkan (of the LBJ drama “All the Way”), written in the heat of the Trump victory. “How bad could things get? Schenkkan methodically walks us through a series of policy initiatives and plausible public catastrophes to cook up a gruesome dystopia akin to the 20th and 21st century’s cruelest atrocities. Schenkkan plays cat-and-mouse with the audience, teasing out information in mere teaspoons as a white male prisoner named Rick — some sort of marked man by governmental higher-ups — gets interviewed by Gloria, a black female historian. The final third of the show’s uninterrupted 90-minute conversation is compelling as a thought experiment. It’s anti-Trump, all right.” (Nelson Pressley) Through May 27 at the Silver Spring Black Box Theatre, 8641 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. Tickets $18-$38. Call 301-588-8279 or visit

[Nelson Pressley on “Building the Wall”]

[Theater in the time of Trump]

“The Father.” Ted van Griethuysen stars in Florian Zeller’s international hit about an elderly man facing dementia. “A sober medical manual of a play about the dementia afflicting a once-vital Parisian engineer . . . van Griethuysen plays the role here in a way that will be recognized by anyone who has or had to cope with or nurse loved ones suffering from the slow departure of their faculties. The air of casual dismissal he effects, leading eventually to an expression of deep, solitary despair, comes across as the poignantly credible arc of a proud man’s pitiable trajectory.” (Peter Marks) Through June 18 at Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW. Tickets $20-$85. Call 202-332-3300 or visit .

[Peter Marks on “The Father”]

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” “It’s the beguiling unity embodied by Synetic’s ‘Hunchback’ that sets it above some of artistic director Paata Tsikurishvili’s other fine shows. The design elements — typified by Anastasia Rurikova Simes’s endlessly elastic modular set, Erik Teague’s nightmare-ready costumes and Brian Allard’s vibrant lighting — lay the groundwork in Synetic’s Crystal City space for Irina Tsikurishvili’s inventive choreography and, hallelujah, several exceptionally rich acting turns.” (Peter Marks) Through June 11 at Synetic Theater, 1800 S. Bell St., Arlington. Tickets $35-$60. Call 866-811-4111 or visit .

[Peter Marks on “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”]

“Jesus Christ Superstar.” “What you really want to know: Can they sing it? Director Joe Calarco hasn’t quite lucked out with mind-blowing vocalists. Still, Jason Lyons’s lights gorgeously carve the rock show haze, and music director William Yanesh’s seven musicians so expertly drive this score that you’ll find yourself nodding along. The squealing guitars, funk bass lines and rollicking organ are right on, and choreographer Karma Camp gets her ensemble artfully raving and hopping up and down the movable white benches on Luciana Stecconi’s set (with the audience surrounding the stage). The groove is deep, and if the vinyl’s worn thin on your LP, this musical performance will kick-start your memory but good.” (Nelson Pressley) Through July 2 at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Tickets $40-$114, subject to change. Call 703-820-9771 or visit .

[Nelson Pressley on “Jesus Christ Superstar”]

“Kaleidoscope.” “Broadway veteran Florence Lacey is cracking up compellingly in the new dementia musical ‘Kaleidoscope,’ getting its premiere from the useful Creative Cauldron in Falls Church. Lacey portrays a star losing her mind even as she barnstorms the country in her one-person stage memoir, and her depiction of accelerating mental erosion is as exquisitely measured as her silvery singing. The songs nearly overwork showbiz conceits as Evelyn sings such lines as the bright ‘Find your light’ early and the dusky ‘curtain coming down’ late, but composer-lyricist Matt Conner and librettist-lyricist Stephen Gregory Smith mainly succeed in keeping their touch light and honest.” (Nelson Pressley) Through May 28 at Creative Cauldron, 410 S. Maple Ave., Falls Church. Tickets $18-$30. Call 703-436-9948 or visit

[Nelson Pressley on “Kaleidoscope”]

“Laura Bush Killed a Guy.” “Shows off the blazing presence and comic flair of Lisa Hodsoll, who portrays a reminiscing former first lady. Dressed in a white suit, hands often demurely folded, she talks directly to the audience, shooting periodic loving glances at a photo of George W. on the wall. She radiates steely, self-satisfied graciousness — except when she reveals a subversive streak . . . The play obviously intends to disorient audiences and blur the line between fact and fiction, but it doesn’t accomplish these goals in a revelatory manner. Still, Hodsoll’s performance is to relish.” (Celia Wren) Through June 4 at Caos on F, 923 F St NW. Tickets $25-$35. Call 202-215-6993 or visit

[Celia Wren on “Laura Bush Killed a Guy”]

“Macbeth.” “Director Liesl Tommy’s action-packed production is a tale of Africa suffering at the hands of Western interventionists. It is never more alive than during its battles; this show is notably fluent in the vocabulary of African violence. Child soldiers? Yes — that’s who Macbeth recruits to assassinate his erstwhile sidekick Banquo and Banquo’s son. Necklacing? Yes — a tire is tossed over the head of a victim and doused with gasoline as she’s wrestled offstage. Even so, as ‘Macbeth’ productions go, this is not unusually violent or especially bloody. Nor is it particularly engaging, emotionally. The CIA-like witches have a lot of sway here, and Hecate — their boss, not typically the most memorable character in the play — is the ultimate puppet master, in a torn-from-the-headlines twist.” (Nelson Pressley) Through May 28 at Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW. Tickets $44-$118, subject to change. Call 202-547-1122 or visit .

[Nelson Pressley reviews “Macbeth”]

“The Man Who.” The Peter Brook/Marie-Hélène Estienne drama inspired by Oliver Sacks’s “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.” “Steady and interesting, if not entrancing. On a white-on-white set that evokes a hospital, four competent actors — David Gaines, Tuyet Thi Pham, Carlos Saldana and Eva Wilhelm — juggle the roles of doctors (in white coats) and patients (in rumpled casuals) in a series of scenes that dovetail in fluid fashion. Among the sequences that linger in the mind is Gaines’s portrait of a man who is unable to perceive anything located to his left. After an orderly lathers his face, the man shaves just the right side of it; when the doctors show him his image in a mirror, his bewildered expression is tinged with terror.” (Celia Wren) Through June 4 at Spooky Action Theater, performing at the Universalist National Memorial Church, 1810 16th St. NW. Tickets $30-$40. Call 202-248-0301 o visit .

“Master Class.” “Ilona Dulaski is channeling a temperamental Maria Callas in Terrence McNally’s ‘Master Class,’ directed by Nick Olcott. Dressed in black, with pearls and thick eyeliner, this version of the celebrity opera singer frets, fumes and showboats in hugely diverting fashion. Dulaski’s prima donna is a derecho windstorm of a VIP. But now and then, when she fleetingly dodders, or loses her train of thought, she becomes a poignant figure.” Through June 11 at MetroStage, 1201 N. Royal St., Alexandria. Tickets $55-$60. Call 703-548-9044 or visit

[Celia Wren on “Master Class”]

“Outside Mullingar.” “A sweet piece of writing. Kevin Adams is Tony, a cantankerous old man who might not leave his farm to his moody son Anthony, a 40ish man played with a hangdog mope by lanky Brandon McCoy. Rena Cherry Brown tartly plays a widow whose daughter Rosemary (Susan Marie Rhea, neatly alternating currents of thoughtfulness and sheer force) is the rural Irish county’s enigma: lovely, strong, and willfully alone. Moonstruck savages might be a fair description of John Patrick Shanley’s misfit romantics, and you’ll find yourself grinning as Keegan Theatre’s quartet adeptly taps the flinty, winsome style.(Nelson Pressley) Through May 28 at the Keegan Theatre, 1742 Church St. NW. Tickets $35-$45. Call 202-265-3767 or visit .

[Nelson Pressley on “Arabian Nights” and “Outside Mullingar”]

“Protest.” The Alliance for New Music-Theatre presents one of Václav Havel’s “Vaněk” plays, “Vaněk” being an Everyman-alter ego for the playwright writing under Communism who would become the Czech Republic’s president after the Velvet Revolution. Through May 21 at Dupont Underground, 19 Dupont Circle. Tickets $35. Visit .

“Timon of Athens.” The seldom-staged Shakespeare drama about a man who gives away his wealth. “Why does Timon throw it all away? Don’t expect an answer. The plot of ‘Timon’ is fairly straightforward: the fable of a man at two radically opposite interludes, first when he has everything, and then nothing. Still, director Robert Richmond helps us see the connection between Shakespeare’s world and ours, with a portrait of Athens as a city of the near-future, obsessed with money — a theme reflected in the projections by Francesca Talenti of gold coins careening across a screen like a news zipper. What’s in your wallet, it seems, is the only news you need.” (Peter Marks” Through June 11 at Folger Theatre, 201 East Capitol St. SE. Tickets $35-$75. Call 202-544-7077 or visit .

[Peter Marks on “Timon of Athens”]

[Are Americans too lazy for Shakespeare?]

“Tunnel Vision.” Andrea Lepcio’s play about two women trapped together with an audience. Through June 4 at Venus Theatre, 21 C St., Laurel. Tickets $40. Call 888-811-4111 or visit .

“Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche.” Craving kitsch? This wide-eyed camp fest will still leave you feeling empty. The setting is 1956 with repressed sexuality bursting at the seams, which leads to a saucy quiche-eating bit and to the small conscripted-into-the-action audience delaring out loud, “I am a lesbian!” Monumental Theatre Company’s five actresses display more comic moxie than does the Evan Linder-Andrew Hobgood script, which is pregnant with gags about egg supremacy and the evils of meat. This pocket-sized 75 minute performance does, however, feature one of the best gross-out laughs of the season. Through May 22 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets $30. Call or visit

“Forgotten Kingdoms.” “A tale of a troubled American missionary family and their circle of acquaintances on an isolated Indonesian island, ‘Forgotten Kingdoms’ touches on such themes as culture clash, the legacy of colonialism and competition among religions, but it is far from an issue play. Bold, often poignant and sometimes too leisurely, the work extends an appealingly personal and idiosyncratic vision, rich in telling detail. The title may reference forgetting, but the play often seems as clear and specific as a total-recall memory.” (Celia Wren) Through May 21 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets $20-$30. Call 202-399-7993 or visit

[Celia Wren on “Forgotten Kingdoms”]

“In the Heights.” The Spanish language premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2008 Tony-winning hip-hop musical, foreshadowing his “Hamilton” success. “You can feel the influence of ‘Rent’ in this first foray by Miranda onto Broadway. . . . The emphasis on personality manifested in song doesn’t always lend itself to a satisfying caliber of storytelling. And yet like ‘Rent,’ there is a larger story here worth telling: how the city forges families that transcend bloodlines. A party is what ‘In the Heights’ strives to be. Director Luis Salgado’s choreography gives the young, vibrant ensemble at GALA a platform to show off the best dancing in town — some of the best you may ever see in these parts.” (Peter Marks) Through May 21 at GALA Hispanic Theatre, 3333 14th St. NW. Tickets $60. Call 202-234-7174 or visit

[Peter Marks reviews “In the Heights”]

[Geoffrey Himes talks with “In the Heights” director Luis Salgado]

“The Most Spectacular Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington.” The new troupe Ally Theatre plants a flag with the mischeivous historical fantasia from Philadelphia’s James Ijames. Through May 20 at Joe’s Movement Emporium, 3309 Bunker Hill Rd., Mt. Rainier. Tickets $25. Visit

“Ragtime.” “‘Make them hear you,’ goes the climactic chorus in the musical ‘Ragtime,’ and the new production at Ford’s Theatre stirringly delivers on the kaleidoscopic show’s cries for justice. The setting is 1906, but the issues ring true throughout the 1998 musical’s crusading score. . . . As its cast of two dozen swarms up and down a three-story set layered with class implications, Peter Flynn’s production utilizes the full volume of the large Ford’s stage. Ford’s keeps displaying a knack for putting local actors into the right big roles, and as a composed, powerful Coalhouse, McAllister emerges as the soul of the show.” (Nelson Pressley) Through May 20 at Ford’s Theatre, 511 10th St. NW. Tickets $18-$71. Call 202-347-4833 or visit

[Nelson Pressley reviews “Ragtime”]

“Smart People.” “A tidy geometry of gender and race takes shape right away in the Arena Stage production of Lydia R. Diamond’s bright, acerbic comedy. Two men: one black, one white. Two women: one black, one Asian American. See how different combinations of ethnic and/or sexual lines parallel, bisect or glance off in tangents. . . . ‘Smart People’ doesn’t muddle much with subtext: this is the sort of comedy where everyone is completely capable of saying exactly what they think. That should be an advantage, but the dialogue is oddly delivered at lecture hall levels in Seema Sueko’s visually slick production. Luckily, Diamond’s dialogue is as clever as the title promises, and her characters press through initial assumption-laden encounters to — well, whole new levels of assumption-laden encounters.” (Nelson Pressley) Through May 21 at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. NW. Tickets $40-$101, Subject to change. Call 202-488-3300 or visit

[Nelson Pressley reviews “Smart People”]

[Playwrights Diamond and Lawton on Lorraine Hansberry]

“Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp.” For all ages. Through May 21 at Adventure Theatre MTC, 7300 MacArthur Blvd (Glen Echo Park), Glen Echo. Tickets $19.50. Call 301-634-2270 or visit

“The Jungle Book.” Five actors play all the parts in this staging for age 4 and older. Through May 28 at Imagination Stage, 4908 Auburn Ave., Bethesda. Tickets $12-$35. Call 301-280-1660 or visit .

“Titus.” A solo show about a 10 year old’s fanciful stories, for audiences 12 and up. Presented by Red Bridge Arts from Scotland. May 20-21 in the Kennedy Center Family Theater. Tickets $20. Call 202-467-4600 or visit .

[Jane Horwitz on spring TYA shows]

[Jane Horwitz on theater for the very young]

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

“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.” Daniel Radcliffe in the Tom Stoppard play, filmed at London’s Old Vic as part of NT Live. May 22 at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F Street NW. Tickets $20. Call 202-547-1122 or visit .

“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

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