Amy Morton and Tracy Letts in
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
(© Michael Brosilow)
Amy Morton and Tracy Letts in
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
(© Michael Brosilow)
Arena Stage sends a warm Valentine to playwright Edward Albee this month as they open a two-month-long festival featuring his work in 30 events. Leading off is Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (February 25 - April 10) in the Kreeger. Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Tracy Letts is George and Tony Award nominee Amy Morton is Martha. Albee's At Home at the Zoo (February 25 - April 24) will run simultaneously in the Kogod Cradle, with staged readings of other plays set for March.

Bethesda's Round House Theatre has the world premiere of Charming Billy (February 2-20), adapted by director Blake Robison from Bethesda author Alice McDermott's award-winning novel. The story is set in a Bronx bar, where friends and family of affable Irish-American Billy Lynch gather after his funeral to reminisce. DC playwright Liz Maestri is seeing the first production of her new play, Owl Moon (February 4-26), produced by Taffety Punk at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. Maestri says it's a play about "love and body bags." Oh, and there's a talking owl.

Keegan Theatre is presenting the world debut of Rosemary Jenkinson's Basra Boy (February 19 - March 12). Josh Sticklin stars in this one-hander from Ireland's hot new playwright. It's a darkly comic take on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as seen through the eyes of two best friends in Belfast. Keegan also has more familiar work onstage: Conor McPherson's night of storytelling in a rural Irish bar, The Weir (February 12 - March 13). Both are at DC's Church Street Theatre.

If you've now got your Irish on for the month, Roslyn's Washington Shakespeare Company has another treat for you with Juno and the Paycock (Artisphere, February 17 - March 20). The second of Sean O'Casey's Dublin trilogy, it's a tragic yet funny play focusing on Captain Boyle, his wife and family breadwinner Juno, his snappish drinking buddy Joxer Daly, a daughter desperate to escape their world any way she can, and a son caught up in the looming Irish civil war. Still focusing on the Emerald Isle, the Kennedy Center has a brief run of Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan (February 8-12). A touring production from DRUID and New York's Atlantic Theatre Company, the dark comedy about the longing for escape is set on a small island off the Irish coast in 1934.

Fairfax-based Theater of the First Amendment is doing a mini-road tour for the world premiere of Jennifer L. Nelson's 24, 7, 365 (February 10 - March 13). Nelson asks, "What would the world look like if people were happy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year?" The piece will play DC's Atlas Performing Arts Center (February 10-27), the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas (March 3-5), and George Mason University's Harris Theater (March 10-13). Meanwhile, No Rules Theatre Company presents Toni Press-Coffman's Touch (H Street Playhouse, February 4-27), about a man attempting to rebuild his life after suffering a personal tragedy.

GALA presents La cándida Eréndira/The Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother, (February 3-27), based on the novel by García Márquez. In a mysterious desert, young Eréndira plots to escape tragic circumstances. GALA says the adaptation, by Columbia's Jorge Alí Triana and Carlos José Reyes, turns a tragic tale into black comedy.

They won't be Greek to you! Two classic stories with new faces are on the boards this month. Woolly Mammoth Theatre has Oedipus el Rey, (February 7 - March 6), written by MacArthur Genius Grant-winner Luis Alfaro. This tragic tale adapts the Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex into a look at Chicano youth in today's gang-infested central Los Angeles. And did you ever wonder what might happen if the Greek myth of Perseus and Medusa were transplanted into post Civil War Louisiana? Local playwright Mary Hall Surface and composer David Maddox did, and the result is the family-oriented musical Perseus Bayou (February 5 - March 13). Now a Cajun fable, it's at Bethesda's Imagination Stage, where Hall Surface directs.

Another treat aimed at the younger set, but probably destined to please parents, too, is Synetic Family Theatre's The Magic Paintbrush (February 19 - April 3). Based on Chinese folklore, it's a "magical tale" of the power of good virtues against the forces of greed.

And briefly around the area: the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (February 23 - March 30) is at Olney Theatre Center; the dark comedy Fuddy Meers (February 4-27) is at 1st Stage in McLean; and Landless Theatre has Mash-Up Fest (February 4 -26) at the DC Arts Center, as four local playwrights present four mash-up parodies.