Actress Mikel Lambert, a resident company member of the Shakespeare Theatre at the Folger, has reservations about the need for professional theater critics. "I sometimes wonder if we wouldn't be better off simply singling out any individual looking vaguely thoughtful after a performance and, having established that he or she is literate, ask this person to write down what he or she thought of it all," Lambert suggests in her recent essay "Actors and Critics."
In a reversal of roles -- one that will no doubt gladden the hearts of many an actor -- Lambert throws a few slings and arrows at New York and Washington critics, including The Washington Post's David Richards and Megan Rosenfeld and the Washington Times' Hap Erstein. She saves her most stinging review for New York magazine's John Simon, whom she pictures "hunched over his typewriter like a hawk, eyes ablaze, with a full quiver of poisoned darts."
Lambert's is among 16 articles written by actors, directors, scholars and, yes, even critics, that comprise "Reviewing Shakespeare," a special issue of the Shakespeare Quarterly that explores the relationship between those who perform the Bard's plays and those who write about them. Copies are available for $5 by writing Shakespeare Quarterly, Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol St. SE, Washington, D.C. 20003. 'Williams and Walker'
"When the moment arrives, you play the moment," says Takoma Park's Vincent D. Smith, who is enjoying the moment now that his musical "Williams and Walker" is being produced at off-Broadway's American Place Theatre. The play -- based on the life of the black comedian Bert Williams, who rose to stardom in 1910 with the Ziegfeld Follies, and his song-and-dance partner George Walker -- was originally called "Nobody, An Evening With Bert Williams." It was first presented at University of Maryland's Nyumburu Cultural Center in 1979 before Smith toured it as a one-man show.
"Bert Williams was an intrinsic part in the development of the modern-day musical comedy," Smith says. Williams had trained to be a serious Shakespearean actor, but was never able to escape the stereotyped role of the Negro in blackface. Instead, Smith explains, Williams used the mask as "a vehicle for getting subtle messages across" to the predominantly white audiences for which he performed. "He created pathetic characters that weren't as slow as they seemed."
"Williams and Walker" stars Ben Harney, who won the 1982 Tony award for best actor in a musical for his performance in "Dreamgirls," and Vondie Curtis-Hall, who was also in "Dreamgirls." The show runs through March 30. Living Stage Benefit
Living Stage Theatre Company, the community outreach program of Arena Stage, will hold its 20th anniversary benefit tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at the French Embassy. A cocktail reception and buffet will be followed by a showing of Franc,ois Truffaut's "Small Change." Tickets cost $75; call 554-9066. Odds and Ends
George Curry will perform his one-man show "Charles Dickens at His Reading Desk" tonight at 8:15 p.m. at Mt. Vernon College's Post Hall; call 331-3467 . . .
Two one-acts -- Richard Washer's "Fulcrum" and Bill Robinson's "The Big Picture" -- will be given staged readings tonight at 8 at the Source Warehouse Rep. And Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Main Stage Gail Wronsky's full-length play "The Rhythms of Euphemia" will be given a staged reading . . .
Theatrical Research and Development will sponsor an evening of jazz, poetry and performance tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. at d.c. space to help raise funds to renovate an abandoned storefront at 14th and T streets NW into a coffeehouse. Artists appearing in the "Gala Coffeehouse Benefit" include Paul Bollenback, Marc Spiegel and Janus Semark; suggested donation is $5 . . .
The 58th annual D.C. One-Act Play Tournament will be held Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. at Gallaudet College's Elstad Auditorium; for further information call 673-6854 . . .
There will be a 1960s Go-Go dancing contest Saturday at 11 p.m. at the Source Warehouse Rep. The winner will dance with Cat Woman to the Safaris "Wipe Out" in future performances of "Batman vs. The League of Doom," which plays Fridays and Saturdays at midnight; call 462-7782 . . .
Harold Pinter's "The Birthday Party" begins a month-long run at the Studio Theatre tomorrow . . . Molie re's "The School for Wives" opens tonight at Baltimore's Center Stage.