Decadence, Inc.: Arena’s You, Nero and Signature’s Hairspray, considered.

Danny Scheie as Nero and Susannah Schulman as Poppaea. (SCOTT SUCHMAN/Arena Stage)

Amy Freed’s You, Nero, is, as I opine in today’s City Paper, a clever play about the limits of art as a humanizing influence. Or maybe the limits of mediocre art as a humanizing influence.

Or maybe it’s about how a bad upbringing can damage you beyond the reach of art’s rehabilitative prowess.

Or mediocre art’s rehabilitative . . . I’m still thinking about this, is the point. Which suggests Freed was successful, even if the ending is kind of a mess.

I also reviewed Signature Theatre’s Hairspray, which is an uncomplicated delight. I’m getting my parents tickets for Christmas.

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