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TO DECEMBER 15
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Two mysterious, vaguely threatening strangers disrupt a seaside boardinghouse in this earliest of Harold Pinter’s dark comedies. Who they are and what they’re up to is never quite stated, but they sure know how to throw a party that’ll curl a boarder’s toes. This being Pinter, it’s up to the audience to provide subtext while the actors provide loads of laughs and no small degree of ominousness. Brian Hemmingsen and Chris Henley make the well-dressed, thuggish strangers a deliciously absurdist Laurel and Hardy. Michael Comlish’s dyspeptic, increasingly terrified boarder and Rena Cherry Brown’s screechily ditzy landlady are neatly matched foils, while Nanna Ingvarsson and Richard Mancini provide comic support. Michael Murray’s set—a riot of grimy, peeling wallpaper patterns—is also a decided asset. The production inaugurates Washington Shakespeare Company’s second theater space, which is reached by walking through the main auditorium’s setting for A Streetcar Named Desire. It’s worth taking a moment as you enter to marvel at the remarkable, theatrically vibrant home the WSC has managed to create on a practically nonexistent budget; in repertory with Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. At 8 p.m. Friday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at the Clark Street Playhouse, 601 S. Clark St., Arlington. $10-15. (703) 418-4808. (Bob Mondello)