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“Women Observed”

As the star who opened the KenCen’s Eisenhower Theater in 1971 (playing Nora in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House), Britain’s splendid, ageless Claire Bloom has a certain claim on audience loyalties hereabouts. So her return to the center in four separate literary evenings this week qualifies as an event—not a shattering, once-in-a-lifetime thing (she’s done one of the evenings here before), but an opportunity that serious lovers of acting probably shouldn’t let pass. This is a star, after all, who was playing opposite Paul Scofield and Richard Burton while still in her teens, whose Blanche (in a ’70s revival of A Streetcar Named Desire) has been cited by many observers as the single finest performance seen on Broadway in generations, and whose comeback memoir featuring horror stories about her marriage to Phillip Roth warrants applause on its own. This weekend’s shows, under the collective rubric “Women Observed,” include dramatic readings of three novels: Jane Eyre on Thursday, The Turn of the Screw on Friday, and Anna Karenina in two parts on Saturday afternoon and evening. Then, on Sunday, she’ll reprise Women of Shakespeare, a show with which she wowed KenCen audiences in 1981. Of course, if you don’t mind waiting another 17 years, you can always catch her next time. At 7:30 p.m. Thursday & Friday, 3:30 & 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 5 p.m. Sunday at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. $25-40. (202) 467-4600. (Bob Mondello)