Author Archive | John Stoltenberg

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Review: ‘The Freshest Snow Whyte’ at Imagination Stage

Far off the radar of most grownup theatergoers, the writer/director Psalmayene 24 has been creating an extraordinary body of work for children. I’ve been an admirer of the trenchant work he has directed for mature audiences—the plays Not Enuf Lifetimes and The Shipment knocked me out. But until The Freshest Snow Whyte—his fourth creation for Imagination […]

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Magic Time! ‘Watch on the Rhine’ at Arena Stage

Whatever this play meant to Broadway audiences when it debuted in 1941, just prior to America’s entry into a war of resistance to fascism abroad, what matters now is what it means to audiences just as America has entered a war of resistance to fascism here at home. Does Lillian Hellman’s principled script—now in a […]

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Magic Time! ‘I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart’ at Studio X

Friendships between fat girls and gay boys really are a thing, practically a cliché actually—or a trope, as Playwright Morgan Gould dignifies them when referring to just such a queer pairing in her audacious new play, I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart. You can find commentary and confessions about the familiar phenom online—conjectures, for instance, […]

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Magic Time! ‘Silent Sky’ at Silver Spring Stage

Lately the news has been resignifying theater more than usual. To resignify is not a commonly used verb but it’s a commonly understood thing. It means “to give new signification to,” to alter what something means. In the case of a play, it’s when life makes art betoken more than the artist imagined. Case in […]

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Review: ‘Roe’ at Arena Stage

The title of Lisa Loomer’s riveting play Roe refers to both the pivotal Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade and the person known as Jane Roe who was the plaintiff in it. Loomer dramatizes both stories—why and how the case came to be and who the person was and what happened to her. The play […]

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Magic Time! ‘The Hard Problem’ at The Studio Theatre

I love when a play starts out as a fascinating head trip—a smart, high-concept exhilaration of ideas—then propels me headlong into an overwhelming flood of emotion. It’s like being transported along a neural pathway from brain to heart that the playwright has turned into a thoroughfare of theatrical euphoria. Tom Stoppard scripts that extraordinary excursion […]

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Review: ‘[gay] Cymbeline’ at Theatre Prometheus

Queering Shakespeare may be gilding the lily. And if so DC these days has seen quite a few such embellished flowers. Like, golden nosegays for days. One of the best and freshest in the bunch is Theatre Prometheus’ [gay] Cymbeline. It’s a two-hour gender adventure that’s as fun, funny, and touching as a romp in […]

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Review: ‘Recent Tragic Events’ at St. Mark’s Players

The American theater has generated some great plays prompted by the tragic events of 9/11. I remember vividly Neil LaBute’s powerful 2002 drama The Mercy Seat, in a production LaBute directed Off-Broadway with Liev Schreiber and Sigourney Weaver. Locally, Kathryn Coughlin’s gripping Bigger That You, Bigger Than Me, which Field Trip Theatre premiered in 2015, […]

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Magic Time! ‘Someone Is Going to Come’ at Scena Theatre

Someone Is Going to Come is a comedy of menace with a roiling undercurrent of sexual tension. It evokes ominous noirish goings-on in a scary remote locale told in stark idiosyncratic dialogue. And it’s funny as all get out. Scena Theatre’s impeccably perturbing production of the Norwegian dramatist Jon Fosse’s biting three-hander had me howling […]

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Review #2: ‘Charm’ at Mosaic Theater Company of DC

Just opened at Mosaic Theater Company in a thrilling and vibrant production directed by Natsu Onoda Power is a play that puts on stage some of what National Geographic just called the gender revolution. But this is no anthropological field trip. Charm is so funny and poignant, and so pure of heart, that it elevates […]

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Review: ‘Copenhagen’ at Theater J

Strange to watch a play unfold and wish that it did not feel so chillingly relevant. Or that  the past it depicts never happened. Or that the moral and material uncertainty at its core did not portend a fearsome future. So it was on opening night of Theater J’s highly charged, highly skilled production of […]

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Magic Time! ‘Trans Lives and Theater as Change Agent: A Q&A with Dane Figueroa Edidi and Natsu Onoda Power’

Theater in DC has begun only recently to tell stories that attempt to be faithful to trans experience. Despite progress on local stages toward accurate portrayals of the lives of other populations marginalized on account of “difference”—those who are women, black, Latinx, Asian, queer, Deaf, or disabled, for instance—the lives of transfolk have been conspicuously […]

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Review: Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show

With the audience seated in the round on a floor shared by the playing space, you could feel the whole place shaking and quaking. It was no subterranean tremor; it was the ebullient Step Afrika! ensemble doing their dance moves. And their rhythmic pounding stomping stamping was reverberating with a vibe that was irresistibly joyful. […]

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