>DC is a lot of things: it is not cheap, it is not all that child-friendly, it is not particularly fun, but it is a playground for the rich and style-deprived. (Seriously. Young men born and bred in this town have no sense of humor when it comes to clothing. And if you aren’t wearing a suit, girlfriend, with yo mama’s pearls, you’re not going to be taken seriously- but do say “no” to too much shoulder padding, please). That said, we like to think we’re a grown-up, cultural bunch.
But for those of us who loathe probiotic yogurt and can’t afford the $75 forTasted DC, First Annual Night of Free Theater kicked off on October 19th at theaters all over the District. My friend KB got advance tickets for some very popular shows and offered them up for our enjoyment. Though I was still sick and sniffly on Saturday I was raring to see Cabaret at Arena Stage, because how can you pass up a chance to see Germany at the cusp of the Holocaust? Men in heels and flapper dresses? A Sally Bowles who first appears on stage singing and “dancing” on a ladder? An electric train? Brad Oscar (aka “The man who took over the part of Max Bialystock on Broadway after Nathan Lane moved on”?). You can’t, because if you did how could you ever face folks at the office the next morning? I had to leave during Sally’s “Mein Herr” number (never my favorite anyway) to have a coughing fit, but as they sing in a later number: “So Who Cares, So What?” It was still great fun.
DC native Brad Oscar lacks the frenzied, childlike spriteliness of someone like Joel Grey, who played the Emcee as “Midsummer Night”‘s Puck on acid. Oscar’s more measured performance lets the gravitas of the message- and the absurdity of songs such as “If You Could See Her”- shine through. He’s maaaaahvelous dahling. Husky of voice and stature, and sexy in his rouge and tails. (Which is not to say I like my men in make-up, but if the MAC fits, work it!)
I’ll tell you though, the whole thing got me thinking about the production of Cabaret we put on in high school. First of all, high school students in “old person” make-up- sooooo not convincing. Especially with our squeaky, barely postpubescent voices. Second, we really watered down the overt sexuality of songs such as “Two Ladies” which basically celebrated the joys of cohabitating threesomes in a way that “Three’s Company” barely covered. Yikes. Third, the costuming in high school is so very much tamer. My friend BJ kept tugging my sleeve and asking if we’d perhaps stumbled into the wrong theater and was this actually “Schindler’s List II: Men in Fishnets”?
After an enjoyable afternoon we decided that we were going to go to the theatah more often. We also decided we were hungry. At intermission we had downed cups of champagne and passed Act II, which is infinitely sadder and more bizarre, in a haze, and now we were ready for food. We hopped the train for Chinatown and on a whim I asked BJ if she might like to try Matchbox. My previous attempts to dine there had been squashed by the long line of folks waiting for tables, but since we had caught the matinee performance we reached the restaurant before 6pm. Early bird specials rawk! Besides which, an early dinner leaves you with plenty of time to get downtown and hit the clubs before the cover charges kick in.
Matchbox, a welcome addition to the Washingtonian’s Cheap Eats roster, is steps away from the Chinatown Metro. Located around the corner from Zengo (which is known for delicious mojitos and is on my list) it’s a door down from Capitol Q, but it’s worlds away in terms of atmosphere. The pizzeria bills itself as a vintage pizza bistro and with its dark wood and authentic wood-fired masonery ovens it does Pizza Paradiso several better by offering a wide selection of truly tasty martinis, featuring house infused liquors, and a variety of bistro dishes. The prices are more than reasonable- most are $7-$18 with the exceptions being a $19 yellowfin entree, a $21 rockfish, and a $25 filet mignon.
The menu is fantastic- there’s so much to choose from, even if you’re not in a pizza mood. After sharing the small size portion of their simple salad, BJ went for the grilled chicken and portabella stack along with a Watermelon Tease (featuring watermelon infused vodka), while I dug into a 6 slice (small) sausage and onion pie with a Ginger Snap (pineapple infused rum and ginger syrup) on the side. The drinks menu is divvied up into the Top Ten, Girlie, Manly and House drinks.
The martinis loosened our tongues and before we knew it, and quite inspired by the shenanigans we’d seen onstage, we were discussing topics that were not for children. Which was unfortunate because the seating in Matchbox is a tad cramped and about 3 feet away a father and son were devouring a platter of Matchbox sliders. Hopefully the tousle-haired little moppet couldn’t read lips because otherwise his daddy would have had some ‘splaining to do.
Meanwhile, the desserts at Matchbox are fairly, well, unremarkable. There was the ubiquitous molten chocolate cake and zzzzzz… Oop. Sorry, where was I? But really, desserts don’t matter here because pizza is clearly the name of this game. Aside from what’s on offer, you can build your own pie and it is also available in a large 8-slice size. They are also available for takeout. Should you prefer to eat in reservations are recommended, but only available for parties of 8+.
DC folks may not be stylee, but we treat our very adult tastebuds right. (Pictures will go up next time I go- which will be verrrrrryyyy soooooonnnn. Promise.)
713 H St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001-3733