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TO JUNE 30

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“Is that French for menopause?” wonders Alice in Bel Age, a new production from the Theater Alliance and Actors’ Theatre of Washington. Ah, no—the titular expression refers to the late-blooming beauty of une dame d’un certain âge. Think Catherine Deneuve. Now, for Bel Age, lower your standards. Recently divorced graphic designer Alice is “fast approaching 50” and feeling more âge than belle when her gay male friends teach her the French phrase, just knowing it will render her irresistible to every low-rent 20-something who struts by. To seduce these men, she drops her favorite French phrase into casual conversation—the whole time confusing a frantic libido with healthy self-esteem. If you like seeing self-conscious WASP-y actors show some ass, simulate sex, and—worst of all—rap, please go and cheer on a nice little neighborhood theater that, at least, has the vision to mount new plays (or, more accurately, be mounted by a new play). Maybe a steamy Madrid setting and a wacky horde of Pedro Almodóvar regulars would have been able to carry off Bel Age with some semblance of tenderness and dignity. As it is, only two actors manage to rise above the horror: Louis Cupp turns in a light, flexible performance as a priggish young lawyer (among other incarnations), and Steven Kirkpatrick (pictured, right) furnishes the show with badly needed flair in his dual role as a bumptious Noel Coward aspirant and a posturing Teutonic drama queen. Curtain goes up at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 22; Saturday, June 23; Wednesday, June 27; Thursday, June 28; and Saturday, June 30, and at 4 p.m. Saturday, June 23, at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop’s Black Box Theater, 545 7th St. SE. $20. (202) 547-6839. (Neda Ulaby)

SATURDAY & SUNDAY

National Capital Barbecue Battle

The warm weather’s here, and the staging of certain culinary events is as sure as the rise of the sweltering sun: You’ve got your Taste of D.C. You’ve got your chili cook-offs. But this weekend, ladies and gentlemen, is the showcase organized especially for the finger-lickin’ set. The National Capital Barbecue Battle will take over a few city blocks with its live entertainment, games, and, of course, the pièce de résistance—the very best sticky, scrumptious, lip-smackin’ barbecue the States has to offer. And even when you’re not chowing down, there’ll be plenty of other attractions to entertain you: the musical stylings of classic rocker Eddie Money and Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown, a wine-tasting pavilion, the display of award-winning NASCAR vehicles, and—get ready for some real fun—the presentation of the world’s largest peanut. (It’s big. It’s really really big.) There will also be lots of activities for the kiddies, but if you find those wee ones getting underfoot, head over to the Johnsonville Big Taste Grill: Also known as the World’s Largest Traveling Grill, this 75-foot monster, according to the press release, “cooks up to 2,500 brats per hour.” The Battle rages from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 23, and from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, June 24, on Pennsylvania Avenue between 9th and 13th Streets NW. $7 (benefits the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs and D.C. Double Dutch League). (301) 860-0630. (Tricia Olszewski)

TO JUNE 30

World War II: Stories From the Front

The victory over German fascism became one of the essential legends of the Soviet Union—and a frequent theme for Soviet films. Not all such movies were mere propaganda. Indeed, choosing the period as the backdrop sometimes allowed directors to make lyrical, humanistic films that might otherwise have been challenged or even suppressed. This month’s series features several such Soviet pictures, including Grigori Chukrai’s 1959 Ballad of a Soldier (at 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 27, at George Mason), the simple, unromanticized tale of a young man on a four-day pass to visit his mother during wartime. Other films made during the same period of cinematic liberalization include Fate of a Man (at 7:10 p.m. Saturday, June 30, at the Foundry), Sergei Bondarchuk’s 1959 account of an ordinary soldier who is captured and imprisoned in a concentration camp, and escapes only to learn that his family has suffered a worse fate; and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood (at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 27, at George Mason), whose moody depiction of a teenage Soviet spy foreshadows such later masterpieces as Stalker. Among the other films are Alexei Gherman’s 1971 Trial on the Road (at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 24, at the Foundry, and at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 30, at George Mason), in which a soldier who defected to the Germans tries to redeem himself after he’s captured by a Russian platoon; and Stanislav Rostotsky’s Dawns Here Are Quiet (pictured, at 2:15 p.m. Sunday, June 24, at George Mason, and at 7:10 p.m. Monday, June 25, at the Foundry) the tale of a platoon of Russian women suddenly surrounded by German paratroopers. The series runs to June 30 at George Mason University’s Johnson Center Cinema, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, and the Loews Cineplex Foundry, M and Thomas Jefferson Streets NW. $8.25-$10. (703) 993-8891. (Mark Jenkins)