Tag Archives: theater

Unconvention Centers: The Welders’ Transmission and Solas Nua’s Wild Sky, reviewed.

Megan Graves and Dylan Morrison Myers in "Wild Sky" (Solas Nua)

In today’s Washington City Paper, I review two new plays being staged in unusual environments. The Welders’ Transmission, by playwright/performer Gwydion Suilebhan, is a thoughtful meditation on the hazards of storytelling, while Deirdre Kinahan’s Wild Sky is a human-scale look back at a pivotal moment in Ireland’s struggle for self-governance. It’s also the first show from Solas Nua in five years. I’m glad they’re back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

Too Past for Love: Signature’s Dying City and Spooky Action’s Reckless, reviewed

Rachel Zampelli & Thomas Keegan in DYING CITY (Scott Suchman)

Hear ye, hear ye: My reviews of new productions of Christopher Shinn‘s somber 2006 drama Dying City and Craig Lucas‘s surreal 1983 comedy Reckless are in today’s Washington City Paper.

Wrestling Guys

My review of Woolly Mammoth‘s production of Kristoffer Diaz‘s very funny wrestling play The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity ran in the City Paper last Friday, while I was busy cavorting abroad.

Her name? None of your business!

. . .

That was a little joke. Very. Sorry. I was in airports and on planes for 25 hours yesterday, which is yesterday-plus. Cut me some slack, willya?

I Think About Autism, Therefore I’m Not: Theater J’s Body Awareness, reviewed

Bedroom cries: MaryBeth Wise, Susan Lynskey & Adi Stein

I reviewed Theater J‘s production of Annie Baker‘s breakout play, Body Awareness, in today’s City Paper.

Two years ago I reviewed Baker’s follow-up, Circle Mirror Transformation, for the Examiner.

Faux REALS: On the Longevity of the Longjohn-Wearing Hero

“…but brother, there are days when I wish I was Plastic Man or the Flash or one of those happy-go-lucky bozos.”

I wrote about Gwydion Suilebhan‘s new superhero play REALS this week, taking his provocation that “Superhero films are bad for you” as a jumping off point for talking about, well, superhero films.

Not quite 10 years ago, I spent the better part of a year trying to write one. It was called Hero Complex, and it was about a guy who becomes convinced he’s the illegitimate son of The Gryphon, the mightiest hero around. I was aiming for a bittersweet comedy with touches of doomed romance and magical realism. I pitched it to my professor and fellow students in my screenwriting program as “a Wes Anderson superhero movie.”

I wrote two full drafts and many more first acts. I had a version where my hero was in his early 20s and unattached, and a version where he was 40 and married with kids. Neither was very good, but there was a scene here, a line there, that I thought might be worth saving.

Then The Incredibles came out. That’s not a film that bears much resemblance to my description of the one I was trying to sweat into existence, but at the time it felt close enough to make me throw up my hands. I loved The Incredibles. I felt certain my screenplay would never get to be that good, no matter how many night and weekends I sacrificed to it on the altar of my crumb-covered, coffee-stained keyboard. Continue reading

AIDS Crisis on Infinite Earths: On The History of Invulnerability and The Normal Heart

SUPERFAMILIAS: David Deblinger and Tim Getman (Stan Barouh/Theater J)

Any honest critic will occasionally find himself out on a lonely limb, and this week it’s my turn. To me and apparently no one else, Arena Stage’s The Normal Heart — a historically vital play about the early years of the AIDS epidemic in New York City — is morally worthy but artistically wanting.

I am girding myself for hate mail.

People sometimes make fun of Ford’s Theatre’s presidential history plays for being dowdy and pedantic; for being more interested in teaching us A Very Important Lesson than in taking us somewhere. That’s how The Normal Heart felt to me, albeit with a lot more crying. (Also, I tend to like the musty presidential histories.) I happen to agree with the play’s politics, as I understand them — though that really shouldn’t matter at all — and I acknowledge in my review that activist/playwright Larry Kramer was writing in a time and place when subtlety would not have been an appropriate or effective response to the nightmare he and his peers were living through.

I just don’t think the preachy, shouty play he wrote holds up, removed from that urgent context. Your mileage may, and probably will, vary. Continue reading