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H Street NE, which transformed quickly from a dilapidated commercial strip to a hypergentrified attractant of quirky businesses, is not immune to controversy. But there’s probably one H Street story most people could agree is a success: the tale of Al, the orange tabby who lived at Palace of Wonders—-then later Red Palace—-during the neighborhood’s rapid changeover. Valerie Paschall leads our arts section this week with a feature about Al, who came up as a feral stray on D.C.’s streets, put in six years at Palace of Wonders/Red Palace, and now lives comfortably with a burlesque performer in Solomons, Md.

We weigh in on three shows in theater this week, starting with Shakespeare’s madcap The Government Inspector, which Chris Klimek simply does not find funny. Trey Graham is pretty warm on Synetic’s “blunt, “brutal,” and totally not-G-rated interpretation of Jekyll and Hyde. And Rebecca Ritzel throws a bone to the “relatively decent” comic acting in GALA Hispanic Theatre’s In Spite of Love. In music, Mike Paarlberg pulls a double review of Washington National Opera’s Anna Bolena and Don Giovanni, deeming both absolutely worth seeing—-especially for Bolena‘s lead, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky.

In galleries, Kriston Capps looks at a curious show by Patrick McDonough, “all i want is to be a happy man,” which melds Sparklehorse and the life of an actual horse, who was born the day Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous committed suicide.

Surprises abound in film this week: Rian Johnson‘s time-traveling sci fi thriller Looper is gratifyingly smart, says Tricia Olszewski, and even people who hate Glee will probably laugh at some of the choice dialogue in a-capella comedy Pitch Perfect. Finally, in One Track Mind, Marcus J. Moore chats with producer and rapper Yusef, who samples The Original Kings of Comedy on his track “Show Ya LOV3.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery