(Potomac Theatre Project, in repertory with "Masterpieces" and "Iranian Nights" at Georgetown University's Hall of Nations, through Aug. 5)

Now in its fourth summer season, the Potomac Theatre Project aims to produce political and provocative plays that expand the usual menu of theater fare in Washington. In "Statements," by Athol Fugard, an interracial couple show both their furtive love for each other as well as the doomed nature of their illicit relationship, carried on in the back room of the small town library in which the woman (Carolyn Swift) works. She and her black lover (Bill Grimmette) are discovered after surveillance by a neighbor and then the police. Performed in the nude, it is an early Fugard work, elliptical, poetic, but somewhat frustrating because little information about the two central characters is provided to illuminate the larger issue. "Servant," an acerbic, satiric work by Joe Orton, bashes both the working class (for compliant drudgery) and the middle-class professionals who manipulate them. Although the daggers are well-thrust, the play has the feel of a sketch rather than a fully developed script. The production is more earthbound than something this farcical should be. All performances are free and held in a small arena-style theater. -- Megan Rosenfeld


(Olney Theatre, through Aug. 12)

In "You Can't Take It With You," the classic comedy about that extended family of screwballs, the Sycamores, George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart show us Americans the way we like to see ourselves -- staunchly egalitarian, fiercely individualistic, embracing diversity with open arms. In one corner or another of the Sycamore family manse, gloriously spangled fireworks are being invented, Trotsky's maxims are being printed on a hand press, bad portraits are getting painted, pet snakes are digesting their daily ration of houseflies and someone is picking out "Alice Blue Gown" on the xylophone. That's before things get really busy. And right at the heart of the zaniness is a romance so Hollywood picture-perfect that you half expect a drugstore soda fountain to pop into view. Given half a chance, the play can't fail to win over an audience, and the Olney Theatre gives it more than that. The 19-member cast for the most part is highly likable, and director James D. Waring, clearly in a relaxed mood, has had a fine time orchestrating the nuttiness. There are lots of small parts in "You Can't Take It With You," but there really isn't a bad one. Everybody gets a punchline, a bit of business, a moment front and center. What we have here -- in more ways than one -- is an endearing illustration of democracy in action. -- David Richards