The piano stopped playing. The actors left the stage, and the applause ceased. Members of the audience began to file out, and their footsteps mingled with murmurs of conversation.
Embellishing the usual after-theater melody was a grace note: a series of the short, rhythmic inhaled breaths by people softly sniffling.
If you go 33 Variations runs at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. S.W., Washington, through Sept. 30. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost $47-$66. Call 202-488-3300 or go to arenastage.org.