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The West Wing might have been maligned for inspiring a generation of idealistic political-science majors to move here and jump into politics, but the stellar acting at least justified the piles of awards the show won. Tonight, one of those awarded actors returns to the District in a new production at Shakespeare Theatre: Richard Schiff, who portrayed Communications Director Toby Ziegler, stars in Hughie, a late-career work by Eugene O’Neill about a man who laments his bad luck to a hotel night clerk. Ever since former night clerk Hughie, died, Erie (Schiff) has seen his life go downhill—and there’s clearly a connection between the events. It’s a bit morose, but as any West Wing fan knows, Schiff has a particular gift for that kind of material. And since the two-character play is actually more of a monologue, Schiff’s got a lot of sad stuff to deal with.

The play runs to March 17 at the Lansburgh Theatre, 450 F St. NW. $43-$83. (202) 547-1122. shakespearetheatre.org.