Glassheart

Jan. 17—Feb. 16 $20–$30
Atlas Performing Arts Center
1333 H St. NE, Washington, DC
Map
(202) 399-7993
In Glassheart, a desaturated riff on the centuries-old European folktale “Beauty and the Beast,” that hairy mope has traded in his castle for a Chicago walk-up, the kind bookstore clerks can afford. This we know because the sleep-deprived manic pixie dream girl who just moved in next door has come to work in a bookstore. The beast’s lamp—apparently the last of the walking, talking home appliances who like their master yearn to be restored to human form—is determined to play matchmaker because, as you’ll recall, only true love can break the curse that reduced a shallow prince to a drooling, shedding, feral monster. The motives of all concerned grow more opaque in young playwright Reina Hardy’s wobbly gloss on the legend, staged in the round by Rorschach Theatre, which has worked miracles with this sort of baroque, grown-up fantasy in the past. Director Lee Liebeskind shows a deft hand in the show’s bittersweet closing moments, which hint at a man’s longing for connection with his device not unlike the one dramatized in Spike Jonze’s film Her. In that movie, the next-generation operating system voiced by Scarlet Johanssen was programmed to serve her master’s every whim. In Glassheart though, at least one and possibly both of the two characters played by fetching young women are meant to be human. It’s too bad Hardy didn’t give either one of them more to do than to try to figure out how they can help yet another financially independent dude of European extraction shake off his funk—and his hooves—in order to become his best self. [CK]

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