1

Author Archive | John Stoltenberg

God of Carnage GW 2 square

Review: ‘God of Carnage’ at George Washington University

The big laughs in Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage come from watching grownups behaving badly, and the big joke is that four parents end up acting more like petulant, belligerent children than their own eleven-year-old progeny. Written in French and translated into English by Christopher Hampton, the comedy became a West End and Broadway hit […]

Continue Reading
Judge Me Not 13

Magic Time!: ‘Judge Me Not’ at DC Arts Center

Strong writing, passionate acting, and a meaningful purpose combined to make Judge Me Not a gem of a show. An assemblage of monologues around a common theme, the show came with a message: Do not pass snap judgment on others whose life story you know nothing of. As staged two nights only in the DC Arts […]

Continue Reading
200x200 Sotto Voce

Magic Time!: ‘Sotto Voce’ at Theater J

Among the revelatory dimensions of this lyrical play is one that caught my attention by surprise. I knew going in that Sotto Voce, by Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Nilo Cruz, would resonate with the contemporary plight of refugees because it references a tragic historical event: the voyage of the S.S. St. Louis, which set sail in 1939 […]

Continue Reading
17060-198 square

Magic Time!: ‘An Act of God’ at Signature Theatre

Rarely have I enjoyed such a perfect union of comic writing, acting, and staging with such non-stop hilarity. Just opened in the intimate Ark theater at Signature. An Act of God, had me doubled over laughing so hard it could count as an abs workout. The intelligent design of the show is everywhere—in the kitch-celestial set […]

Continue Reading
Effect-800x533-3 square

Review: ‘The Effect’ at Studio Theatre

When two lovers in life or on stage display an intense interaction of attraction, they are said to have “chemistry.” That elusive feeling may be more than a metaphor, according to Lucy Prebble’s absorbing play The Effect. Our notions of romantic emotion may have more to do with neurochemistry than we knew. Just opened in […]

Continue Reading
Assassins-500x500

Review: ‘Assassins’ at Pallas Theatre Collective

This season for whatever reason—and far be it from me to speculate—three theater companies in the nation’s capital are presenting Stephen Sondheim’s tunefully insolent tribute to presidential assassins. Well, tribute might not quite be right. The story told in Sondheim’s music and lyrics and John Weidman’s book is actually more a theatrical visit to the […]

Continue Reading
Copy of LoveInformation_instagram_withtext_v2

Magic Time!: ‘Love and Information’ at Forum Theatre

This is a most peculiar play, but in a very good way. It’s more about its form than its content. And that’s what makes it one of Forum Theatre’s most fascinating offerings. The famously unorthodox British playwright Caryl Churchill has in Love and Information defied just about every theatrical convention you can name: Be it […]

Continue Reading
WMTC_ARSONISTS_1200x1600-225x300

Magic Time!: ‘The Arsonists’ at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

In a recent satire published on Medium, the San Francisco writer/actor/comedian Alison Page listed five dozen “Honest Theatre Awards.” Among them was one that struck me as an apt accolade for the production of The Arsonists I had just attended at Woolly Mammoth: “The This-Play-Isn’t-About-Trump-But-It-Kind-Of-Is-Now Award.” As if to underscore The Arsonists‘ earnest eligibility in […]

Continue Reading
200x200 Word Becomes Flesh

Magic Time!: Refinding the Soul of ‘Word Becomes Flesh’ at Theater Alliance: A Q&A With Director Psalmayene 24

Winner of five Helen Hayes Awards last season, Theater Alliance’s production of Word Becomes Flesh is now playing at Anacostia Playhouse in an encore presentation that is garnering even more acclaim. Having seen both productions, I sensed something in it had now changed—something I could not find words for but something powerful and significant. I […]

Continue Reading
Madeleine Rogers as Desdemona and Faran Tahir as Othello in Shakespeare Theatre Company's Free For All production of Othello. Photo: Jennifer Reiley.

Review: Free For All ‘Othello’ at the Shakespeare Theatre Company

Every great play by Shakespeare takes on altered shades of meanings depending on a production’s directing, design, and acting. That’s a theater truism. Also well-known to practitioners is that audience reaction can influence actors’ performances. But less recognized is how an audience’s response can shift a play’s thematic focus, making the play their own, by […]

Continue Reading
BigFish#4 square

Magic Time!: ‘Big Fish’ at The Keegan Theatre

The musical Big Fish is by any measure a feel-good show for the whole family, as evidenced by the buoyant and beautiful production now playing at The Keegan Theatre. But the main narrative arc in Big Fish has particular resonance for sons, a specific emotional current that touches anyone who grew from boy to man […]

Continue Reading
Smoky Mirrors 2 square

Magic Time!: Sweet Spot Aerial Productions’ ‘Smoky Mirrors’ at Atlas Performing Arts Center

No sooner did some aerial apparatus drop from the fly space—ropes, straps, silks, hoops, trapezes—but what some artist-athletes would take hold of it and make acts of suspended animation. These performances—as balletic as they were muscular, as subtle as stupefying, as mesmerizing as sometimes shocking—were my introduction to DC’s robust circus scene. They are folks […]

Continue Reading
Mark-of-Cain-7 square

Review: ‘The Mark of Cain’ at Synetic Theater

Fans of Synetic Theater’s music-and movement-based works derived from classic texts will find a surprise twist in the company’s latest offering. Typically, a Synetic extravaganza creates a vivid other world, someplace unto itself, visually voluptuous, aurally luscious, always a trip to somewhere fantabulous. But with The Mark of Cain, Synetic’s first wholly original devised work […]

Continue Reading
Wig-Out-200x200

Review: ‘Wig Out!’ at Studio Theatre

The world of  Wig Out! is a glittering fantasia on house ballroom culture. Tarell Alvin McCraney’s ingeniously metatheatrical 2006 script sets this play with music in the urban underground that came to mainstream attention with the 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning. It’s a subculture that offers safe space where refugees from white cis heteronormativity—mostly black […]

Continue Reading
the gun show 3 square

Review: ‘The Gun Show’ at 1st Stage

Among the issues polarizing America (and degrading public discourse) is the hot-button question of what to do about guns. Proponents of positions right and left talk past each other. Both camps have unassailable certitude on their side. Playwright E.M. Lewis set out to see if she could bridge the divide. She chose to tell autobiographical […]

Continue Reading