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TO SEPTEMBER 23
Time and changing attitudes have taken some of the steam out of Lillian Hellman’s once-incendiary 1934 drama about two schoolteachers accused of being lesbians by a child they’ve disciplined. But not so much that decent acting from the two principals can’t lend urgency to a scene or three. Signe Allen is hauntingly shellshocked as a woman whose wedding suddenly seems a cover, while Shannon Parks begins a trifle too hysterically and lets the play’s own hysteria catch up with her. Though not at all well supported by American Century Theater’s production—which is marked by amateurish acting, tacky sets (a bare stage would do), and costume design that doesn’t begin to capture the class distinctions Hellman used to give the story some Depression-era punch—the plight of these characters still comes through. So does Hellman’s gift for crafting rip-roaring melodrama. At 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, matinees 2 p.m. Saturday & 3 p.m. Sunday at Gunston Arts Center Theater II, 2700 S. Lang St., Arlington. (703) 553-8782. (Bob Mondello)