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THROUGH OCTOBER 24
Of course Phyllis Frelich can fly. This extraordinary deaf actress, who first gained national attention in the stage version of Children of a Lesser God (which Mark Medoff wrote for her), is so gifted that she could no doubt sing Peter Pan in American Sign Language if required. Playing a deaf aerialist in the ’20s (before flyers began using radios) is a breeze—especially as director J. Ranelli has supplied her with the sort of stage business any actress would kill for. During the course of this evening of reminiscence, she gets to assemble and fire up an airplane engine, shoot a pistol, and even play golf on a biplane’s wing in mid-flight. The fact that the show is performed in ASL (with voice translation over headsets for hearing audiences) at times leads to a certain oddness: There are moments when the gestures of signing really ought to take a back seat to the gestures of acting—as when she signs how awestruck she was at seeing her first airplane, when simply acting the moment would be more natural and use the stage better. On the other hand, Frelich neatly makes some telling points about the prejudices of the hearing world simply by turning the tables on hearing audiences. What she can’t quite do is keep an evening without a conflict up in the air for 90 minutes. Lolly is spunky, clever, and absolutely deserving, but once airports began relying on radio to keep pilots from crashing into one another, her days in the cockpit were bound to be numbered. Performances are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; with matinees Sundays at 5 p.m. at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. $25. (202) 467-4600. (Bob Mondello)