Author Archive | John Stoltenberg

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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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Magic Time! ‘Into the Woods’ at The Kennedy Center

The acclaimed Fiasco Theater production of Into the Woods has come to the Eisenhower Theater at Kennedy Center for the holidays—I am tempted to say for a spell, because the show is enchanting as a magic elixer—and I completely concur with my DCMTA colleague Andra Abramson, who gushed that it “deserves to be gushed over.” […]

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Review #1:’Copenhagen’ at Perisphere Theater

The storytelling in Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen—which won the 2000 Tony Award for Best Play—is ingeniously done. The play’s three characters are deceased. They are actual historical figures whom Frayn extensively researched then imagined conversing in an afterlife on a circular stage space that has no specific time but three actual chairs. They speak sometimes to […]

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Review: ‘Black Nativity’ at Theater Alliance

I saw Black Nativity last year at Anacostia Playhouse and was so thrilled by it (as I wrote in my rave review), I had to go again this year. I went  expecting to see a reproduction of a splendid show every bit as good as before. That’s what theaters typically do when they remount a […]

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Magic Time!: ‘The Christians’ at Theater J

A debate about the existence of hell is combusting in the nation’s preeminent Jewish theater. And that particular drama in that particular venue could not be more anomalous. There is in Judaism no eternal damnation after death—no conception of it, thus no controversy over it. Not that there’s a shortage of guilt among Jews; there’s […]

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Magic Time! ‘Straight White Men’ at The Studio Theatre

Playwright Young Jean Lee’s audacious title refers to the particular—the white widowed father (Ed) and his three grown sons (Drew, Jake, and Matt) who are on stage for most of this naturalistic comedy—as well as the generality of straight white men (as in Jake’s mention of “people like us…privileged white dickheads”).  So one might reasonably […]

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