Category Archives: theatre

In Arms’ Way: Golda’s Balcony and Moth, reviewed.

Tovah Feldshuh as Golda Meir in "Golda's Balcony" by William Gibson.

I review Golda’s Balcony, William Gibson’s 2003 solo play about the life of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, and the U.S. premiere of Australian playwright Declan Greene’s Moth in today’s Washington City Paper, available wherever finer alt-weeklies are given away for free. Read all about ‘em.

Tovah Feldshuh as Golda Meir.

Birthday Suit: Elevator Repar Service’s Arguendo, reviewed.

Mike Iveson and Vin Knight in Elevator Repair Service's "Arguendo."

I reviewed Arguendo, Elevator Repair Service’s comic treatment of a 1991 Supreme Court case that no longer seems momentous if ever it did, for the Washington City Paper.

Tête-à-Tête Offensive: Tender Napalm and The Carolina Layaway Grail, reviewed.

Laura C. Harris and Elan Zafir in Signature Theatre's "Tender Napalm" (Teresa Wood)

In one of the the shows at Signature Theatre right now, a woman (named “Woman”) tells a man (“Man”) in precise, step-by-step detail how she plans to sever his penis and scrotum.

In the theater next door, Beaches: The Musical is playing. Six of one…

I review Philip Ridley’s Tender Napalm in this week’s Washington City Paper. Plus Allyson Currin’s The Carolina Layaway Grail, the inaugural production from DC playwriting collective The Welders.

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Habit, Run: Water by the Spoonful and Normal, reviewed.

In today’s Washington City PaperI review the Pultizer-winning drama Water by the Spoonful at Studio Theatre and Molotov’s production of Normal, a play about the Dusseldorf Ripper.

Fear of a Dwarf Planet: Forum’s Pluto and WSC’s Orlando, reviewed.

David Zimmerman, Jennifer Mendendall, and Kimberly Gilbert in Forum Theatre's "Pluto."
NOTICE: My reviews of Steve Yockey‘s “rolling world premiere” Pluto for Forum Theatre and Sarah Ruhl‘s adaptation of Virginia Woolf‘s 1928 novel Orlando at WSC Avant Bard are in today’s Washington City Paper, available wherever finer alt-weeklies are given away yadda yadda yadda.

The Life Despotic with Drew Cortese

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I didn’t know Drew Cortese until I saw him in The Motherfucker with the Hat at Studio Theatre this time last year, but the performance made a powerful impression. He’s in Richard III at the Folger Theatre now. We talked about roads not taken and being the bad guy for a piece in today’s Washington City Paper.

All photos by Jeff Malet, courtesy Folger Theatre.

Devise and Conquer: We Are Proud to Present…, reviewed.

Joe Isenberg and Andreu-Honeycut in Woolly Mammoth's "We Are Proud to Present..." (Stan-Barouh)

Joe Isenberg and Andreu Honeycut (Stan Barouh)

I can’t think of another time I’ve had as visceral and angry a reaction to a play as I did to Jackie Sibblies Drury’s We Are Proud to Present. It takes a lot of gall to sit down with the intent of illuminating a little-known genocide and then decide, at some point during the writing process, to make it all about you.

Profiles of the playwright in the New York Times and the Washington Post cover this. I still kind of want to see the zombie play mentioned in the Times piece, but its revelation that she puts emoticons in her stage directions is unsurprising in light of the clumsiness of We Are Proud, wherein Drury chooses a hacky, wrongheaded premise and then executes it in a way that devolves from merely dull to actually loathsome. Continue reading

The Motherfucker with the Limp: Folger’s Richard III, reviewed.

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No one was more excited than I was when the Folger Theatre announced that Drew Cortese – a standout player from Studio’s The Motherfucker with the Hat last year — would play Richard III. The show is good, but not the radical reinvention I’d hoped it might be. Read all about it in today’s Washington City Paper on the Internet only.

Mucho Mistrust, Love’s Gone Behind: Rorschach’s Glassheart, reviewed.

Megan Reichelt and Lynette Rathnam.

Megan Reichelt and Lynette Rathnam.

That’s a refrain from Blondie‘s “Heart of Glass,” by the way. Who knew? Not me.

I’m of the opinion that Reina Hardy‘s spin on Beauty and the Beast, Glassheart, is an undercooked play, but the cast of Rorschach Theatre’s production is doing admirable work. My review is in today’s Washington City Paper.

Diamond Dawgs: Bang the Drum Slowly, reviewed.

Evan Crump and Richie Montgomery in "Bang the Drum Slowly."

Evan Crump and Richie Montgomery in “Bang the Drum Slowly.” (Johannes Markus)

I’ve never been a big sports fan, but I’m weirdly susceptible to baseball stories. I found American Century Theatre‘s stage adaptation of Mark Harris‘ 1956 baseball novel Bang the Drum Slowly to be an anachronistic pleasure. My review is in today’s Washington City Paper.

Quiet Act: Synetic’s Twelfth Night and Forum’s Meena’s Dream, reviewed.

Irakli Kavsadze as Malvolio. (Koko Lanham)

Irakli Kavsadze as Malvolio. (Koko Lanham)

My reviews of Synetic Theatre‘s silent, early-cinema-and-Jazz Age-inflected Twelfth Night and Anu Yadav‘s solo show Meena’s Dream are in today’s Washington City Paper.

Painted by Association: The Old Masters, reviewed.

Giorgione_The-Adoration-of-the-Shepherds

The authorship of this painting, The Adoration of the Shepherds, now attributed to the Renaissance master Giorgione, is the ostensible subject of The Old Masters, one of Simon Gray‘s final plays. My review of Washington Stage Guild‘s production is in today’s Washington City Paper.

Wilder Thing: Our Suburb, reviewed.

OUR-SUBURB-photo-by-Stan-Barouh

Some kind of technical problem prevented a chunk of this week’s Washington City Paper from being posted online. My review of Darrah Cloud’s play Our Suburb at Theater J was among that chunk, so I’m posting the full text of the review here.

Writer Darrah Cloud’s Internet Movie Database page indicates she was once a prolific imagineer of made-for-TV movies: A Christmas Romance, A Holiday for Love, A Holiday Romance, The Sons of Mistletoe, and — shades of intrigue! – Undercover Christmas. I haven’t seen those films, but the titles imply the sort of cornball mawkishness that some people — specifically, people who are very wrong — associate with Thornton Wilder’s oft-revived, Pulitzer-winning 1938 play, Our Town.

Our Suburb is Cloud’s riff on Wilder’s classic in the way that Aaron Posner’s Stupid Fucking Bird was a reworking of Anton Chekhov’The Seagull, only she isn’t debating her source material the way Posner’s thrilling play did. She’s moved the action — well, “action;” she’s kept Wilder’s sense of life as a sequence of mostly prosaic moments that we are tragically incapable of appreciating   –  from the fictitious hamlet of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire in the early years of the 20th century to her native Chicago suburb of Skokie, Illinois, about 75 years later. There we follow three households, alike in rigorously striving dignity: The white Majors, and black Minors, and the Jewish Edelmans.

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I loves you, Porgy & Bess. Or The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess. Whatever.

Alicia Hall Moran & Nathaniel Stampley as Bess and Porgy in "The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess."

Alicia Hall Moran & Nathaniel Stampley and Bess and Porgy in “The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess.”

Yes, it’s clearly an insult to DuBose Heyward, who wrote the novel Porgy, and to his wife Dorothy Heyward, with whom he collaborated on the script for a play derived from the novel, that the latest (2011) Broadway version is called The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess, as if the Heywards had nothing to do with the creation of an American classic. But I was still moved past the point of articulate expression by the show when its touring version stopped in Washington Christmas week, as my tongue-tied Washington City Paper review demonstrates.

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Our Pottymouthed Year: 2013 on the DC Stage, Assessed.

Drew Cortese and Quentin Maré in Studio's "The Motherfucker with the Hat," a 2013 highlight. (Teddy Wolff)

Drew Cortese and Quentin Maré in Studio’s “The Motherfucker with the Hat,” a 2013 highlight. (Teddy Wolff)

We’re wrapping up a highly rewarding and admirably trend-resistant year on DC’s stages, as I aver in this week’s Washington City Paper.

Mourning Edition: Edgar and Annabel, reviewed.

Maboud Ebrahimzadeh and Emily Kester. (Igor Dmitry)

Maboud Ebrahimzadeh and Emily Kester. (Igor Dmitry)

The short version of my Washington City Paper review of Sam Holcroft‘s Edgar and Annabel, now getting its U.S. premiere in a Studio Theatre production directed by the great actor Holly Twyford, is that you have to see it. It synthesizes about a half dozen well-chosen curated cinematic influences while remaining resolutely its own thing.

Sounds of the 60s: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, reviewed.

Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Bethany Anne Lind, Tess Malis Kincaid, and Tom Key in Arena's "Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner." (Teresa Wood)

Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Bethany Anne Lind, Tess Malis Kincaid, and Tom Key in Arena’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” (Teresa Wood)

If you don’t know what to get your playgoing (or at least not-theatre-averse) parents for Christmas, and you can afford the freight, Arena Stage’s Malcolm-Jamal Warner-starring Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum are both good revivals of 1960s items that they’re likely to enjoy.

I liked them, too. But then, I’m big on the music, movies, and TV of the 60s. I review both in today’s Washington City Paper, available wherever finer alt-weeklies are given away for free.

Slow Growth: If/Then, reviewed for Architect

If _ Then

In 2009 I attended a lecture by Jack Viertel, a theatre-critic-turned-producer, elucidating the structure of Broadway musicals. Actually, “lecture” doesn’t really reflect what an intimate affair this was. It was more like a musical-appreciation lesson, held in the home of Sasha Anawalt as part of the NEA Institute fellowship for arts journalists writing about theatre that she oversaw. Anyway, Viertel broke down the way these shows work the way screenwriting guru Robert McKee deconstructs commercial movies. He even had musical theatre performers on hand to sing samples of each type of song he described as he detailed its emotional and/or narrative function within the show.

I’d seen only a handful of musicals at that time. I was fascinated to learn what a complicated and tradition-encumbered form it is, and how many different moving parts must to cohere just so to make something that, done right, looks and sounds effortless.

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More Plays About Gatherings and Food: (Half of) The Apple Family Plays, reviewed.

Ted van Griethuysen, Elizabeth Pierotti, Sarah Marshall, Kimberly Schraf, and Rick Foucheux inThat Hopey Changey Thing. (Photo: Teddy Wolff)

Ted van Griethuysen, Elizabeth Pierotti, Sarah Marshall, Kimberly Schraf, and Rick Foucheux in “That Hopey Changey Thing.” (Photo: Teddy Wolff)

The Studio Theatre is staging two of Richard Nelson‘s four Apple Family Plays, the last of which had its world premiere at the Public Theater in New York only last Friday, in repertory. The pair at Studio are That Hopey Change Thing and Sweet and Sad. My review of both is on Arts Desk now, and will show up in print in next week’s City Paper. Happy Thanksgiving.

Darkness on the Edge of Town: The Woman in Black, reviewed.

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I quite liked Keegan Theatre‘s production of Susan Hill and Stephen Mallatratt‘s ghost story The Woman in Black. No arts section in this week’s City Paper, so my review is web-only.