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Washington's small theaters: Washington Shakespeare Company

Friday, April 16, 2010; WE29

"Macbeth" with a naked cast, an all-male "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" and "King Lear" with a female lead. These are just a few of the ways that the Washington Shakespeare Company has "blown the dust off the classics," as artistic director Christopher Henley puts it.

The troupe has seen a lot of theater companies come and go through its 20 years in the business, but its original mission remains the same: to offer fresh takes on well-known works, from Shakespeare and Molière to Samuel Beckett and Tennessee Williams.

And 2010 is shaping up to be a big year for the company, with a move from its increasingly dilapidated home at the Clark Street Playhouse to a sparkly new theater at the Rosslyn Artisphere in October. Will new digs affect how provocative the group's performances are? Don't count on it.

"I think things have gotten a little conservative. . . . I'm really interested in fighting that," Henley says.

What to see next: "Every Young Woman's Desire." May 20-June 20 at Clark Street Playhouse, 601 S. Clark St., Arlington. 800-494-8497. http://www.washingtonshakespeare.org. $25-$50 with weekly pay-what-you-can performances.

-- Stephanie Merry

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