Tag Archives: Washington City Paper

A Moon For the Mediocre: Amadeus, reviewed.

Samuel Adams as “the creature” Wolfgang A. Mozart. (C. Stanley Photography)

To be clear: Antonio Salieri, as self-assessed in the imagination of Peter Shaffer, is mediocre. The Folger’s new production of Amadeus is quite good.

When They Stop Looking at Us: Fairview, reviewed.

Chinna Palmer in the Woolly production of Fairview. (Teresa Castracane)

When I saw Woolly Mammoth Theater Company’s production of Jackie Sibblies Drury’s We Are Proud to Present... in 2014, it was the worst show I’d ever seen. Five-and-a-half years later, it still is. So to say that I liked Woolly’s new production of Fairview, Drury’s Pulitzer Prize-winner that made its debut last year, better than her previous work is of little value. But I liked it a lot. I appreciated it, more like.

I do understand that my approval is not required. It never is. My Washington City Paper review is here.

Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine, reviewed.

Felicia Curry (center) is the star of Mosaic’s Fabulation. (Christopher Banks)

Lynn Nottage has won two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama in the 15 years since her play Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine was first performed; there is no Pulitzer Prize for Comedy. Mosaic Theater’s production of Undine gets its weakest scenes out of the way early, though even in its most heart-rending moments I yearned for a little more variation in the rhythm of star Felicia Curry’s speech. I’ve loved her in many other shows. My Washington City Paper review is here.

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527 Dog Years: Mike Daisey tells A People’s History

Class is in session. (Darrow Montgomery for the Washington City Paper)

Mike Daisey is an artist I’ve written about more often and in greater detail than only anyone else. He’s certainly the artist with to whom I’ve spent the most time speaking directly. The reviews I’ve written of his monologues and the features I’ve reported about how he creates them and the op-ed I was once moved to write in his defense all reflect my great admiration for his work.

That has not prevented me from condemning him when I think he’s deserved it, and he did do something that warranted condemnation, years ago. I will say that in the third year of a Donald J. Trump administration, it seems awfully quaint that so many journalists who had never publicly discussed theatre at all before they lined up to express their outrage at Daisey in the spring of 2012 got so steamed over a guy who tells stories in theaters for a living taking some liberties with one of them.

Anyway, Daisey’s wildly ambitious current show A People’s History—an 18 part retelling of American history circa 1492-to-now, based heavily on the work of Howard Zinn but also on Daisey’s own life—is the subject of my second Washington City Paper cover story about him, available today wherever finer Washington, DC alt-weeklies are given away for free. My 2012 WCP story detailing the problems he created for himself with his show The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, and his effort to remedy them, is here. In fact, all of my writings about Daisey are mere clicks away! How much time do you have?

Despite Its Pedigree, A Doll’s House, Part 2 Is a Fixer-Upper

Holly Twyford as Nora Helmer, 15 years after that door-slam rocked the 19th-century world. (Kaley Etzkorn)

I’ve been looking forward to seeing Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2 for a couple of years. The announcement that the Broadway hit’s DC premiere from Round House Theatre would star the great Holly Twyford as Nora? Music to my ears.

In this week’s Washington City Paper, I try to diagnose why Nicole A. Watson’s production is so bloodless.

Two Dope Queens: Mary Stuart, reviewed.

Megan Anderson and Eleasha Gamble as Elizabeth and Mary at Olney Theatre Center.

There’s been no shortage of opportunities to see Mary Stuart, Friedrich Schiller’s early 19th century play about mid-16th century skullduggery among queens, in the DMV over the last decade. But Olney Theatre Center honcho Jason Loewith’s stripped-down update is good. I reviewed it in last week’s Washington City Paper.

Depth and Deprivation: The Children and Love’s Labor’s Lost, reviewed.

I didn’t write about Ella Hickson’s Oil, the best play I’ve seen this year. But I did review Lucy Kirkwood’s The Children, the second-best. I’m struck by how different two plays with ecological themes written by British women born in the 80s that premiered in 2016 can be. I also wrote about Folger’s new production of the seldom-staged Shakespeare comedy, Love’s Labor’s Lost.

The Rooms Where It Happened: JQA, reviewed.

Here’s my Washington City Paper review of JQA, a new historical fiction from playwright-director Aaron Posner featuring two men and two women, all of whom play America’s sixth president.

How Men Crumbled: Arena’s Kleptocracy and Ford’s Twelve Angry Men, reviewed.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something… something. In this week’s Washington City Paper, I review Kleptocracy, an imperfect but intriguing Vladimir Putin origin story by Kenneth Lin at Arena Stage, starring the guy in the cast who looks the second-most Putinlike as Putin. Plus a puzzling new production of Twelve Angry Men at Ford’s.

In the Loop: Studio’s Kings, reviewed.

I reviewed Kings, DMV native Sarah Burgess’s smart drama about an idealistic freshman Congresswoman, for the Washington City Paper.

Action Figure: A Syrian Asylum Seeker Makes Her English-Language Debut in This Hope: A Pericles Project

Lida Maria Benson, Raghad Makhlouf, Lori Pitts, and Rocelyn Frisco (Hannah Hessel Ratner)

I’ve got a feature in today’s Washington City Paper about Raghad Mahklouf, a Syrian asylum-seeker—and veteran actor—who’s appearing in The Welders’ new riff on Pericles. Only 34 seats are available for each performance, so don’t sleep on those tickets if this appeals to you.

Written in the Stars: Constellation Theatre’s Aida, reviewed.

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Because three shows had their press nights here in the DMV the same night Constellation Theatre Company opened their version of the Y2K-era Elton John-Tim Rice musical Aida, myWashington City Paper review took a little while to appear. Here it is. The principal actors are better than most of the material.

Theatre of Pain: Woolly’s Gloria and Round House’s Small Mouth Sounds, reviewed.

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After the customary late summer lull, I’m back on the theater beat. Last week’s Washington City Paper featured my reviews of two plays that first appeared in 2015, now making their regional premieres Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ stunner Gloria, at Woolly Mammoth, and Small Mouth Sounds by Bess Wohl, at Round House.

FURTHER READING: My 2013 City Paper profile of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is here.

The Last Balcony: An Oral History of the Uptown Theatre

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I wrote an oral history of my favorite cinema, the Uptown Theater on Connecticut Ave. NW here in DC, for the Washington City Paper. I love the oral history format. Cutting this down to publishable length tested me. My apologies to the various people whose comments were cut for length.

AMC Theatres declined to make attendance figures available for publication, but they told me they’ve ticket up slightly in the last year. I hope that means the Uptown will stick around a long time.

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Bitches Be Cray: Saint Joan and The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs, reviewed.

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My reviews of Bedlam’s visiting production of Saint Joan at the Folger and of Spooky Action’s local premiere of Carole Fréchette’s The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs were in last week’s Washington City Paper, but for mysterious reasons took a few extra days to surface online. Enjoy.
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Thoughtcrime Doesn’t Pay: Scena’s 1984, reviewed.

1984.03My review of Scena Theatre’s production of the the Duncan MacMillan/Robert Ickes adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four that I first saw at the Shakespeare Theatre two years ago is in this week’s Washington City Paper. In the years since I saw this script staged the first time, I have acquired a copy of Eurythmics’ Greatest Hits on LP, which includes the unfortunate “Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)” that accompanied the release of Michael Radford’s 1984 movie version.

Photo: Oscar Ceville as Winston Smith (Jae Yi Photography)

Honey, Believe Me: Girlfriend, reviewed.

GFD_7683My review of Signature Theatre’s production of Girlfriend, wherein book writer (and songwriter, though not here) David Almond takes a (then) 20-year-old album Matthew Sweet wrote about his divorce and retcons it into a minimalist musical about two boys falling in love in Nebraska the summer after high school, is in this week’s Washington City Paper. A fine little show. Nothing wrong with that sort of appropriation. But everyone I’ve heard from who really loves it has never heard the album from which Almond borrowed its music.

Less Is More: John and Underground Railroad Game, reviewed.

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Criticism imitating art imitating life: My Washington City Paper review of Annie Baker’s John at Signature Theatre is three times as long as my review of the touring Underground Railroad Game at Woolly Mammoth, just as John is three times as long as Underground Railroad Game. And roughly a third as rewarding.

Your mileage, as ever, may vary.

Language Bury Her: Studio’s Translations and Folger’s The Winter’s Tale, reviewed.

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I’ve got reviews of two shows I enjoyed in this week’s Washington City Paper: Studio Theatre second-in-command Matt Torney’s confident new production of Brian Friel’s 40-year-old Irish classic Translations, and Aaron Posner’s The Winter’s Tale over at the Folger. The former as a lot of superb performers who haven’t worked a lot in Washington before. The latter has a bunch of Posner’s favorite actors (and mine), but it’s Michael Tisdale as the maniacal King Leontes who’s the standout.
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John Brown’s Body: The Raid, reviewed.

Copy of CSH_1676As much as like going to Ford’s Theatre to see plays about Abraham Lincoln, going to Anacostia to see plays about Frederick Douglass is a rarer pleasure. Here’s my review of Theatre Alliance’s production of Idris Goodwin’s The Raid, from this week’s Washington City Paper.