Tag Archives: David Muse

Visions of Diana: King Charles III and I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart, reviewed.

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I’m putting y’all on notice: My reviews of King Charles IIIMike Bartlett’s marvelous blank verse political drama at the Shakespeare Theatre—and Studio Theatre’s world premiere production of Morgan Gould’s I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart are in this week’s Washington City Paper.

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Personal Is Geopolitical: Chimerica and Women Laughing Alone with Salad, reviewed.

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My review of the U.S. debut of Lucy Kirkwood’s sprawling, ambitious drama Chimerica at the Studio Theatre is in today’s Washington City Paper. Also reviewed: Women Laughing Alone with Salad, a surreal feminist comedy from Sheila Callaghan making its world premiere at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. For those keeping score, that’s one great play by a woman that’s not officially part of the Women’s Voices Theatre Festival, and one pretty good play that is. Read those pieces here, or pick up a dead-tree WCP, available wherever finer alt-weeklies are given away gratis — and you don’t even need to have an Amazon Prime subscription! Continue reading

Digging in the Dirt

Holly Twyford and Natlia Payne.

In today’s City Paper, I review the second entry in the Studio Theatre’s Lab Series for new plays, Bryony Lavery’s Dirt. She wrote the masterfully chilling unsettling kiddie-killer drama Frozen, which played at Studio back in 2006. She also wrote Beautiful Burnout, a boxing play that I’m eager to see because, well, I like stories that involve boxing for the same reason I love to box: metaphors for the bruising, thrilling experience of life itself don’t come any clearer.

I was a big admirer of Studio’s production of the first Studio Lab show, Duncan Macmillian‘s Lungs, which was at Studio at this time last year. Dirt has some thematic congruity with that play, but it isn’t quite as surefooted, at least not yet. There’s some wastage. But the good stuff is very good. Holly Twyford elevates everything she’s in and DC newcomer Natalia Payne is an actor I hope we’ll start seeing all over the place. She’s phenom-mana. Continue reading

You, Narcissus: DC’s theater of theater

Christian Conn and Erica Sullivan in VENUS IN FUR. (SCOTT SUCHMAN/Studio Theater)

What was the Number One Topic under consideration by DC theaters in 2011? Why, the theater, of course.

S and Empathy: Studio’s Venus in Fur, reviewed, plus Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them

Christian Conn and Erica Sullivan whip it good. (Scott Suchman)

Venus in Fur
by David Ives
Directed by David Muse
At Studio Theatre to July 3

“I hate the audition process,” sighed provocateur-playwright David Mamet in a 2005 Los Angeles Times essay. “As an actor, I found it demeaning. As a writer and director, I find it damn near useless.”

It’s David Ives, not Mamet, whose fertile imagination begat Venus in Fur, a wickedly ingenious dark comedy that premiered in New York last year and has now arrived at the Studio Theatre in a new production that preserves its whip-smarts fully intact. But Mamet’s essay, “The Tyranny of the Audition,” could’ve contributed a perfectly descriptive moniker for Ives’s play had the latter not already borrowed the name of a scandalous 19th century German novella about a man who derives sexual pleasure from being abused. (If you already knew that the novella’s author’s name, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, is the origin of the term masochism, go to the the head of the class. And continue down the hall the principal’s office; we’re totally calling your parents.)

Ives’s intelligent design is not a straightforward adaptation of the novella. He presents us instead with a youngish, famous-ish, not-yet-rich theater artiste who’s trying to cast his new adaptation thereof. After a long day’s fruitless search for an age-appropriate, articulate and sexy “actress who can actually pronounce the word ‘degradation’ without a tutor,” playwright-director Thomas is surprised when a woman barges into his shabby studio from out of the rain, all self-flagellating apologies for showing up hours late for an audition he can’t even find on the schedule. He tries to blow her off but you know she’s going to read for him anyway, and if any ladies or actors or lady actors or anybody is getting vapors hearing such a brazen male wish-fulfillment scenario recounted, just you wait. As Vanda pries off her rain poncho to reveal her patent leather (or vinyl?) bondage gear — just wait, I said! — the balance of power between omnipotent creator and helpless actor has already begun its hypnotic migration across the stage. Continue reading

Feint Praise: The Sweet Science on Stage

From the University of Maryland's original Joe Louis opera, "Shadowboxer," April 2010.

Boxing! So misunderstood! I hate to keep picking on Golden Boy, but mulling over what rubbed me so wrong about it did me the idea to examine some boxing plays that’ve been performed here in DC and in New York recently. So I did that. And before you tell me, yes, I know that some of the movies Clifford Odets worked on in Hollywood are, for all his agita about selling out, much better than Golden Boy. (The Sweet Smell of Success springs immediately to mind.) Continue reading

Circle Mirror Transformation: Muse’s Class Act

Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation is the first show to open at The Studio Theatre since Joy Zinoman, the force of nature who founded the institution in the 1970s and served as its artistic director until just weeks ago, passed the torch to David Muse. Intentional or not, the selection of this generous, sharply observed comedy to begin the Muse era feels like a tribute to Zinoman, who along with charting the theatre’s creative course was also chief instructor in its conservatory. (She plans to continue teaching.)

Circle Mirror Transformation, which Muse directed, takes place in an acting class similar to the entry-level one Studio offers. I doubt Studio would allow a teacher to have his or her spouse as a student, as in Baker’s fictional class. But given the play’s small-town rec-center setting, the scenario seems plausible even though it’s a glaring violation of the Hippocratic — I mean, the attorney-client — well, it just seems like the kind of thing that could cause problems, is all. And guess what?
Continue reading