THEATERA 'Lesson' to Be LearnedThe Pulitzer Prize-winning...



A 'Lesson' to Be Learned

The Pulitzer Prize-winning family drama "The Piano Lesson," currently at the Mechanic Theatre, is the 1930s installment of August Wilson's decade-by-decade chronicle of black life in 20th century America. A moving and important work by one of the country's pre-eminent playwrights, the play uses an heirloom piano as a central symbol to explore the question of the proper use of a legacy. The ensemble cast in this touring production is as tightly knit as its Broadway predecessor. Weekend performances are at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. today and at 3 p.m. tomorrow. Tickets are $26-$37.50. Call (410) 625-1400.

@ "Howards End" is sumptuous and very, very British.

A version of E. M. Forster's great novel about a squabble between two families over a great house, it manages deftly and amusingly to prick a number of balloons filled with hot air.

The script is literate, witty and ironic, and the cast is somewhat rich in talent, to borrow some understatement: Anthony Hopkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter. *** 1/2 . Rated PG.

Stephen Hunter "Cape Fear" is a truly terrifying film in which ex-con Robert De Niro menaces the family of the lawyer who didn't argue his case aggressively enough 14 years ago. As feral man, tattooed and cunning and without moral rein, the great De Niro will have you praying fervently that you never run into his sort in real life. It's a great, leering, demonic performance; he is Satan, disguised as prison scum, come to earth. Nick Nolte is the attorney in question. Rated R.

Stephen Hunter


Irish Folk Festival

One reason Irish folk music manages to seem so vital is that its best players understand that the only way to keep tradition alive is by letting the music evolve; another reason is that the music remains wonderfully functional, thanks to ceili dancers here and in Ireland. And there's no better way to appreciate both sides of this tradition than to make a day of it at the Irish Folk Festival at Glen Echo Park.

There will be music all day, beginning at noon and climaxing with an all-star performance at 6:30 p.m.; among the featured bands are Altan and Cherish the Ladies. Then the fun starts again with a ceili dance at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $5 for the concert, and $6 for the dance. Call (703) 578-0937 or (301) 492-6286 for details.

J.D. Considine

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