"Pterodactyls"

Source Theatre

Through June 27

Tickets: 202/884-0060

Lisa Rose Middleton is used to the dumbfounded looks. As managing director of Source Theatre, she's seen plenty of them since the theater recently opened after a yearlong renovation.

"There have been people who've walked in and said `I'm looking for Source.' They don't know the place," she says.

The change is indeed disorienting: The place went from a dark cave with a narrow, cramped entryway and narrow, cramped performance space to a snappy modern black box with an inviting facade, sleek, spacious lobby and a stage and seating area reminiscent of Signature Theatre in Arlington.

The seating, in fact, is one of the key upgrades. The audience sits in an L shape for Nicky Silver's "Pterodactyls," a view into a seriously sick family that's by turns uproarious and biting. (Pictured above, Christopher Borg as the son and Kerry Waters as the mother share a tender moment.) But that will change for every show.

"There are no limits," says Middleton of the flexible configuration. "Before, you had to block in between the poles, and even then you had to worry about whether everyone could see."

Also, there's silently running air conditioning ("It no longer sounds like an airplane taking off," Middleton says), separate men's and women's restrooms, and spacious dressing rooms and offices. But with all the preparations -- opening the new theater at the same time as they were opening the show -- neither Middleton nor Artistic Director Joe Banno had a chance to savor their accomplishments until opening night.

As "Pterodactyls" began its comic ride, Middleton and Banno were too restless to sit and watch. "We walked outside and looked at the theater," she says, "and it looked so pretty, with the lights on, looking in the lobby hung with pictures from past shows. It was just, `Oh my God -- it's a theater.' "