May 25, 2015

“A Musical Little Women” Offers Holiday Charm

The March sisters perform, including Amanda Barr as Young Amy, Annamaria Kendrat as "Jo", Maryann Hayden as Meg, and Lily Olson as Beth. Photo by Jim Poston.

At first glance, “A Musical Little Women” looks like the story of a twenty-first-century sensibility trying to extend the limits of a nineteenth-century life. The new production by Run Rabbit Run Theater revolves around Josephine March, whose vision of herself would be familiar to Woodgrove High School’s class of 2014, but it’s alien to Josephine’s contemporaries. Read More

Story-telling Conquers in She Stoops

Kate (Lee Fitzpatrick), Constance (Emily Brown), Marlow (Gregory Jon Phelps), and Hastings (Dylan Paul) yuck it up in She Stoops to Conquer. (Photo by Michael Bailey.)

I know what I’m supposed to see in She Stoops to Conquer. The man who wrote the play, Oliver Goldsmith, also wrote an essay arguing that if we couldn’t convince playwrights to quit flirting with the virtues of private life and get back to sneering at its vices, we’d lose the art of laughter pretty soon. The essay tells me, more or less, that I should see the heroine as a metaphor for theater itself, which has to earn its living with its hands, so to speak, if it wants to keep its feet on the ground. Read More

Keegan Theatre’s A Few Good Men Challenges Assumptions

Michael Innocenti and Maboud Ebrahimzadeh (Photo: C. Stanley Photography)

Aaron Sorkin’s play A Few Good Men is a military courtroom drama that invites us to ponder the role of justice in a realm where rank means right. But not seeing much to ponder there, I left the Keegan Theatre thinking about codes: is it possible that everybody follows one, or several? Even people who disdain them? Read More

Falling in Love with Romeo and Juliet Again

Tracie Thomason as Juliet and Dylan Paul as Romeo the morning after. (Photo by Pat Jarrett.)

As a busy man who likes to see a lot of theater, I might ask two questions about the current production of Romeo and Juliet at the American Shakespeare Center: why should I see that play again, and why should I drive all the way to Staunton to see this production?

The first question is easy to answer: I should see the play because it tells a story that seems true. Two people who are not supposed to fall in love go ahead and fall in love anyway, hard, for no apparent reason — is there ever a reason? Then they do and say and think and feel things that break the rules and cross the boundaries of the world they live in. Those things bring them joy and end their lives, which were defined by those boundaries, as is mine. Read More

“Wonders” Rattles Skeletons in America’s Closet

Reverend Peck (Joey Collins) and Judah (Rod Brogan) confront the devil in Abigail Williams (Susannah Hoffman). (Photo by Seth Freeman.

A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World, the new play by Liz Duffy Adams, gets its water from the well Nathaniel Hawthorne used to great effect, which is the historical fact that America was created by religious fanatics. We may call this place The Land of the Free in popular song, but the Puritans who set this country on its tracks didn’t see it that way: they had no qualms about killing people whose ideas differed from their own. Read More

Scott and Hem Imagines Private Lives of Famous Writers

Hemingway (Rod Brogan) dukes it ut with Fitzgerald( Joey Collins). (Photo by Seth Freeman.)

Mark St. Germain’s new play Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah, which was commissioned by The Contemporary American Theater Festival, is the sort of historical fiction that gets its thrust from our desire to peek between the curtains that celebrities have drawn across their windows, or that time itself has drawn. Read More

“Modern Terrorism”: Laugh and Laugh and Tremble

Rahim protects Jerome (Kohler McKenzie) from Yalda's wrath. (Photo by Seth Freeman.)

If I had left Thursday night’s performance of Modern Terrorism just thirty seconds earlier, it would be easy to write about, because the play itself is really good and the current production is even better than the script. If I had slipped out of the Marinoff Theater when the show ended and hurried home to type up my notes while I could still remember what they meant, I might simply say that it’s a comedy that won me over with its high production values, its skillful use of stereotype, and its moral center. Read More

H2O Brings Big Ideas to Life

Jake (Alex Podulke) unloads on Deborah (Diane Mair) in the world premiere of "H2O." (Photo by Seth Freeman.)

Good plays put people in circumstances that force them to confront essential questions; great plays move people past essential questions to a place where there’s nothing to ask, and leave them there. Jane Martin’s new play H2O puts would-be lovers Jake and Deborah on the road to such a place from the beginning, a place where their paradigms for processing experience must inevitably fail. It makes sure they understand what’s happening to them, and it gives them the tools to change course; then it steps away and watches them run their operating systems into the ground. Read More

Shephard’s Heartless Probes an In-between Existence


If Heartless, Shepard’s newest play, which is part of the 23rd season of the Contemporary American Theater Festival, lacks the thrill of people crashing through sheetrock, it’s not because he’s decided to keep his characters in the room until they figure out a way to fix their broken lives: it’s because the whole thing takes place in the realm beyond those structured walls. Read More

Georgetown Filmmakers Offer a Vision of Freedom

Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard, and Ellen Page in "The East."

The East, a new movie by Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling, addresses some of the broadest, farthest-reaching dilemmas troubling the world today, which is one of the reasons I like it, but I’m going to look at it through a narrow window: actress Ellen Page’s face. That’s where the subtext is written. Read More

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