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TO FEB. 7
Coexisting uncomfortably on the Malay peninsula are one of the world’s most traditional village cultures—kampungs dominated by Islam and the authority of elders—and one of the most modern, symbolized by the Petronas Towers, the tallest buildings in the world. Ethan Brooks (Jason Lott), the protagonist of Rorschach Theatre’s After the Flood, is an American caught between similar extremes. The son of American missionaries raised in Kuala Lumpur, himself a student at an American college, Brooks doesn’t quite belong anywhere. Too American for Malaysia—his ethos is that of a frat boy on perpetual spring break—and too eastern for America—insert anti-capitalist cliché here—Brooks is also too much of an asshole to fit in. (When a renowned master puppeteer, or dalang, disappears, he surmises it must be an effort to ditch a boring old wife.) His decision to find out what happened to the dalang takes the audience into the world of wayang kulit, Malaysian shadow puppetry, which is performed on four large screens surrounding the stage (pictured). The traditional story, based on the Hindu epic The Ramayana, is augmented here with Western themes to parallel Brooks’ journey: the story of a selfish kingling forced to grow up when he must find a missing princess, and of the cultures and people he learns to respect along the way. Rudyard Kipling rolls over in his grave Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturdays at 5 p.m., to Saturday, Feb. 7, at Calvary Methodist Church, 1459 Columbia Road NW. $15. (703) 715-6707. (Janet Hopf)