Category Archives: theatre

Tradition Accomplished: Arena Stage’s Fiddler on the Roof, reviewed.

Hannah Corneau as Hodel & Jonathan Hadary as Tevye in Arena's "Fiddler." (Margot Schulman)

My review of Molly Smith’s reverent, just-the-facts-Ma’am Fiddler on the Roof – my first – is in today’s Washington City Paper.

Hannah Corneau as Hodel & Jonathan Hadary as Tevye in Arena’s Fiddler on the Roof. Photo by Margot Schulman.

On Around Town, talking Sex with Strangers, Julius Caesar, and How We Got On

For more on how abysmal I am at looking into a camera and smiling when someone says my name, we take you now to the studios of WETA, where I was pleased to join Around Town host Robert Aubry Davis and Washington Post arts writer Jane Horwitz last week for very brief discussions of three shows I recently reviewed for the Washington City Paper, starting with my favorite of 2014, Signature Theatre’s production of Laura Eason‘s Sex with Strangers.

Continue reading

We Can Do This Like Brutus: Julius Caesar and How We Got On, reviewed.

My reviews of Folger Theatre’s Julius Caesar and Forum Theatre’s production of Idris Goodwin’s How We Got On are in today’s Washington City Paper.

Scholar Signs: Visible Language, reviewed. PLUS: The Keller-Bell letters, parsed!

Miranda Medugno and Sarah Anne Sillers (C. Stanley Photography)

Miranda Medugno and Sarah Anne Sillers (C. Stanley Photography)

My review of Visible Language, an ambitious original musical in English and American Sign Language being performed at Gallaudet University, is in today’s Washington City Paper. One of the play’s concerns is Alexander Graham Bell‘s relationship with Helen Keller, whom he met as his student, but who became a close friend of Bell and his wife, Mabel.

Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, undated photo.

Helen Keller & Anne Sullivan, undated

I’ll say. While researching this review I found several pieces of correspondence spanning a 25-year period between Bell and Keller in the Library of Congress. I haven’t made anything approaching a serious attempt at scholarship here, but I read the letters I found and I was moved and amused by the story they tell, or at least suggest.

In chronological order, to the extent possible:

This one, which Keller wrote to Bell on George Peabody College for Teachers letterhead, is dated only with a month and day. It’s purely cordial. She talks about addressing the German Scientific Society of New York in English and German, and telling them “every deaf child should have a chance to learn to speak.” Which was Bell’s belief, too, according to the musical. His rival, Edward Miner Gallaudet, believed that sign language, rather than speech, should be the primary method of teaching the deaf to communicate. That’s the conflict that drives Visible Language. Continue reading

Hey, Read This: “Sex Parts,” My Best Friend’s Washington Post Magazine Essay About Stage Boinking

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I was an admirer of Rachel Manteuffel’s writing for years before I got to know her, so kindly disregard that she’s my best gal when I say unto you that it is imperative you read her essay in today’s Washington Post Magazine entitled “Sex Parts.” (Not her title, by the way.) It’s about her decision to take a role in a play last summer that required her to perform a pair of sex scenes as explicit as I can ever recall seeing on stage–and I’ve been getting paid to review plays for six or seven years now.

The play was The Campsite Rule, a wicked-smart sex comedy by Washington Post humor columnist Alexandra Petri. Not enough people saw it. There was no WaPo review, for numerous, complicated, and infuriating reasons, though my Washington City Paper colleague Trey Graham gave it an admiring notice, as did most of the theatre websites in town. I badgered my friends to go. I made sure I had my tickets to return on closing night before I plugged the show on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hourso confident was I that the local DC contingent of the million people who download that podcast each week would instantly snap up all remaining seats once I told them about this smart, funny, sexy play written by and directed by and starring smart, funny, sexy women. I didn’t even mention the explicit sex!

Shows what I know. Continue reading

The Good Books: Sex with Strangers and Elmer Gantry, reviewed.

This is my last pair of Washington City Paper theatre reviews to be edited by departing managing editor Jonathan L. Fischer, who as I mentioned last week is moving on to become a senior editor at Slate. I’ll miss having him edit me every week but I know he’ll do great things there. Godspeed, Jon.

Bringing Out the DC Dead

Collage on brown package paper affixed to interior window at Fort Fringe, Oct. 5, 2014The flood of new words from me posting today and tomorrow includes this Washington City Paper feature on DC Dead, Rex Daugherty and Vaughn Irving’s “zombie survival experience” set in the former Fort Fringe at 607 New York Ave. NW, and likely, if not certain, to be that storied old wreck’s final show now that the Capital Fringe Festival has officially moved a mile and change east, to the H Street NE corridor.

The photo (click to enlarge it) is of something I saw taped up to the inside of one of the windows in the second-floor room where they used to assemble the festival’s schedule using sticky-notes on the Sunday I visited to report the story. The City Paper photographed CapFringe founder Julianne Brienza there for my cover story about the festival in 2010, and they’ve reused those pictures many times in the years since.