Tag Archives: Signature Theatre

God of Carnage: The French Have a Word For It

I write in this week’s City Paper that Signature Theatre’s God of Carnage is an admirable, well-acted production of a thin play . I felt much the same way about their production of Art, from the same playwright, at this time last year.

Both plays were worldwide hits and Tony Award winners. So perhaps Yasmina Reza is French for “not for me.”

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. Continue reading

Theater on the TV: Discussing Art and The Walworth Farce on WETA’s Around Town

These are the two plays I wrote about in the City Paper last week. I was invited to the WETA Studio on Monday, April 11 to discuss them with Around Town host Robery Aubry Davis and regular panelist and Washington Post theatre columnist Jane Horwitz. I had never been on television before. From this taping I went directly to my doctor’s office, where a throat culture revealed I had strep. So, you know, bear that in mind if you watch these. Continue reading

Signature’s goodly Wife, Long on Persuasion

Whatever scenario Doug Wright had in mind when first he interviewed Charlotte von Mahlsdorf with the aim of writing a play about her, we can safely assume it was something more conventional than his prismatic meta-biography, I Am My Own Wife.

Wright’s single actor, multi-character opus won the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2004, more than a decade after Mahlsdorf first began recounting her strange (and possibly tall) tale into his tape recorder. Along the way, the playwright grappled with a Berlin Wall of writer’s block, beguiled by premise-thickening revelations about a subject he’d initially hoped to venerate as a hero. But the complexity that so confounded him turned out to be the very thing that gives his play about a cross-dressing furniture collector in fascist East Germany an unlikely universal resonance.

Director Alan Paul’s absorbing new Signature Theatre production of I Am My Own Wife is — sorry — an ideal marriage of performer and material, entrusting its 36 roles to the versatile craftsman that is Andrew Long. Biographies seem more suited to the solo-performer approach than do other kinds of stories: We are vast, we contain multitudes, etc. Continue reading