December 16, 2010 at 2:10 pm EDT | by David J. Hoffman
Arts news in brief

John Robert Keena (left) and Chuck Young in 'Golden Boy,' which ends its local run Sunday. (Photo by Jim Coates; courtesy of Church Street Theater)

Last chance for ‘Wife Swappers,’ ‘Golden Boy’

Cherry Red’s production of Justin Tanner’s play “Wife Swappers” brings the horny, homophobic world of middle-aged swinger-sex in the land of Orange County church-going Republicans under the revealing microscope —  an eyeful of full-frontal nudity and wide-open frankness, with sometimes way “too much information” as the characters let it all hang out at the D.C. Arts Center in Adams Morgan, but only through Saturday.

The setting is Christmas-time under a holiday party banner reading “Deck The Halls With Your Balls.” But the play ends on a more serious note, hinting more at Edward Albee and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff?” than carefree suburban poly-amorous humping. See it tonight at 7:30 or Saturday when it closes, at 7:30 and 10 p.m. The D.C. Arts Center is at 2438 18th St. N.W. Tickets are $25. 202-462-7833.

“Golden Boy” is another very different play, but it’s also see-it-now-before it closes. Clifford Odets’ classic kitchen-sink drama of 1937, “Golden Boy” (William Holden made his film star debut in the 1939 film adaptation), on stage at the Keegan Theatre in the Church Street Theater in Dupont Circle. It closes there Sunday. Odets, a leading Hollywood screenwriter (for example, “The Sweet Smell of Success” in 1957), shows a man torn between the lure of big money in the ring as a prize-fighter and the risk of ending his dream of a career as a violinist by using his hands to slug instead of bow.

The drama is often melo- and the tragic ending is fore-shadowed. But even so it’s worth seeing, tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.  The Church Street Theater is at 1742 Church St., N.W. Tickets are $30 to $35. 703-892-0201 or here.

Webre re-imagines ‘Nutcracker’; ‘Hamlet’ goes high def

“The Nutcracker” ballet by gay composer Tchaikovsky has been revamped by Septime Webre (also gay) and the Washington Ballet, with distinctive twists including setting it during the American Revolution, with a heroic George Washington as the Nutcracker and King George III as the King of the Mice, and a Potomac River setting for a dance of the cherry blossoms. Through Dec. 26 at the Warner Theatre, 13th and E streets, N.W. Tickets from $31 at 202-397-7328 or here.

“Hamlet,” is it the greatest play by the greatest ever playwright? And was he in fact bisexual? Well, to both questions, maybe. At least you can perhaps answer the first question at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 27, when the play is performed live from London’s National Theatre on the giant high def screen at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Harman Hall, 610 F St., N.W. The classic portrait of uncertainty, which of course ultimately appears to answer the question “to be or not to be” by mostly choosing the latter, is directed by Nicholas Hynter and features Rory Kinnear in the title role. Tickets are $20 from 202-547-1122 or here.

Art galleries offer year-end collections

Two very different group shows of artists are now in progress at Gallery planb, in Logan Circle at 1530 14th St., N.W., open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., gay gallery director David Kalamar has pulled together a remarkable year-end group show running through Dec. 24, featuring about 25 artists showing works in painting, photography, jewelry, prints and much more. Any purchase enters you in a raffle to win a limited edition print, “Smith Island,” by gay artist Keith H. Adams, a former U.S. Marine Corps combat artist who later worked as a set painter at the Washington Opera and just recently opened with his partner a B&B in Washington, Va., in the bucolic foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Also, be sure to admire Adams’ oil paintings “Cedar II” and “Muir Beach.”

“Focus Group: Four Walls, Five Women,” at the D.C. Arts Center in Adams Morgan, 2438 18th St., N.W., is open 2 to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday through Jan 9. This show is a collaboration between the Center and Black Artists of D.C. (BADC), emerging from discussion among five black women about how their race and gender expresses itself through the materials they choose to use.

The sixth annual “Downtown Holiday Market” is open daily from noon to 8 p.m. thru Dec. 23. More than 180 local artisans and crafters show their work, under festive tents on F Street between 7th and 9th streets, N.W., in front of the National Portrait Gallery. There’s also live music (free) and refreshments (for sale).

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