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TO MARCH 19
Shakespeare’s comedy is about the angst suffered by a teen-age king and his three best buddies when they swear to give up wine, women, and song for three years of study. Naturally, a gorgeous French princess and her three loveliest friends (pictured) immediately show up on the guys’ castle doorstep. Hijinks ensue as the men try to woo without their fellow forswearers finding out, and the women, knowing of their swains’ difficulty, do their best to complicate matters. Director Laird Williamson has moved the play to the early part of this century, which means everyone’s sporting straw boaters and carrying on as if they were about to head off to a vaudeville show. The appealing, youngish Shakespeare Theater cast is as convincingly randy as it is funny, and if the production sometimes takes its own sweet time in setting up a comic turn, the turns themselves are always worth the wait. Anita Stewart’s production design is bibliographically postmodern, with towers of books standing in for furniture and text printed on just about every available surface. Tuesday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 7:30 p.m.; matinees Saturday & Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Shakespeare Theater at the Lansburgh, 450 7th St. NW. $15-45. (202) 393-2700. (Bob Mondello)