Fans of Noël Coward are looking forward to Shakespeare Theatre Company's Design for Living (Lansburgh Theatre, May 12-June 28), the playwright's provocative and still relevant comedy classic. Writing in 1932, Coward continued the style of William Congreve and Oscar Wilde with his cutting take on love, friendship and the joys and perils of fame. The cast is led by Gretchen Egolf, Robert Sella, and Tom Story.
Belfast's Des Kennedy (Scenes From the Big Picture) returns to Solas Nua to direct the American premiere of Woman and Scarecrow (Flashpoint's Mead Theatre Lab, May 7-31). Drawing on Celtic mythology and filled with unexpected humor, the play was written by Marina Carr, Ireland's leading female playwright.
Tom Stoppard's sharp wit is on full display at the Folger Elizabethan Theatre on Capitol Hill as Aaron Posner directs Arcadia (May 5-June 14). Part history and part mystery, the action varies between present day researchers probing an early 19th century literary mystery and the past, when the incident occurred. Studio Theatre is giving us a full-scale production of Radio Golf (May 20-June 28), the final work from the late playwright August Wilson, and the last installment in his ten-play cycle of African-American life in every decade of the twentieth century. Set in 1997, the play tackles the issue of gentrification and follows a politician campaigning to become Mayor of Pittsburgh.
Elsewhere around town, Theater Alliance stages the Washington premiere of The Woman Who Amuses Herself (H Street Playhouse, May 16-June 6), Victor Lodato's comic one-hander about the true-life theft of the Mona Lisa. Journeymen Theater Company is staging Moliere's Tartuffe (May 20-June 13) at DC's Church Street Theater. The Spanish-language Teatro de la Luna presents Rosa de Dos Aromas/Two Scented Rose (May 21-June 13) from Mexican playwright Emilio Carballido. In this comedy, presented with English surtitles at the Gunston Arts Center's Theater II in Arlington, two women meet and discover they share the same lover. The Tony Award winning musical Rent (May 26-31) is rolling through town for a quick stop at the Warner Theatre.
And hang on until the end of the month, and then take the kids to the Kennedy Center's Family Theatre for Synetic Theater's take on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (May 28-June 15). The latest in Synetic's "Silent Shakespeare" series will give this family favorite a new look with their dramatic physicality.