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TO JULY 10
On the whole, the happenings in Theatre Du Jour’s Ritual Play don’t make much sense. The play’s two characters (played by Sian Richards and Kris Roth, pictured) spend about an hour rifling through the contents of an old trunk. With minimal dialogue, the pair remove, examine, and replace each item—including family portraits, costume jewelry, a plastic raincoat, and a doll dressed in a plastic raincoat. By the end, one character has mysteriously committed suicide with the other’s character’s assistance; the survivor is left under a purple shroud, Heaven’s Gate–style. Contrary to its title, Ritual Play isn’t so much a meditation on ritual as it is an experiment, or so says the company’s doyen, B. Stanley. The play is the product of the company’s training exercises—which range from a brief gesture to a turn of phrase to a game of patty-cake, all performed with great vehemence—strung together under Stanley’s wise direction. But in front of an audience, the experiment never really takes off. Aside from Richards’ and Roth’s studied intensity, about the only notable element of the play is its vague sense of ominousness, thanks largely to the music of Fritz Hauser and Mike Vargas, and the performers’ reverent recitations of spiritual texts. That those texts—ranging from Psalms to Wiccan incantations—are a purely aesthetic choice (they are dummy texts used in the training exercises) seems fitting for a production this mystifyingly hollow. Ritual Play runs at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, to Saturday, July 10, at the District of Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW. $12. (202) 462-7833. (Mike DeBonis)