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Author Archive | John Stoltenberg

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Magic Time!: ‘Broken Glass’ at Theater J

Arthur Miller’s 1994 Broken Glass does not rise to the stature of his greatest works (Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, The Price, and others). But even lesser Miller can be arresting, as the smart and sharp production now playing at Theater J demonstrates. Directed by Aaron Posner with precise attention to each pulse beat, […]

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Tantalizing Tastes from a Boffo Buffet: A Report on the 2017 Capital Fringe Festival Preview Night

Fifteen of the 80-plus shows in the 12th Annual Captial Fringe Festival presented five-minute teaser scenes to a packed house Thursday night at Logan Fringe Arts Space. Act after act, the house was alive with laughs, cheers, and applause. The evening left no doubt that a hot midsummer of alt-entertainment lies ahead. Interspersed throughout the […]

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Magic Time!: ‘The Return’ at Mosaic Theater Company of DC

Inside this taut and provocative two-character play—which vividly evokes the political tension between the Israeli state and its Palestinian citizens—there is a startling sex scene, one that vividly evokes the sexual tension between a woman and a man. It is an explicit, erotic hookup with shocking consequences. To the best of my recollection, it is […]

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Magic Time!: ‘Still Life with Rocket’ at Theater Alliance as Voyage to a New Form: A Q&A with Director Mollye Maxner

Still Life With Rocket is greater than the sum of its arts. The diverse forms of installation, choreography, and character-driven drama come together in this collaboratively devised experience in what seems a wholly new way. It happens on the entire first floor of the Anacostia Playhouse, including hallways, dressing rooms, and a mobile-home structure on the loading […]

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Review: Source Festival 2017: ‘Perfect Arrangement’

Perfect Arrangement by Topher Payne was a smash hit at Source Festival when it debuted there four years ago, and the comedy’s return to Source on the occasion of the festival’s tenth anniversary is cause for celebration. Set in 1950 during the so-called Lavender Scare—when persecution of homosexuals and other “deviants” had U.S. state sanction—Perfect […]

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Review: ‘And the Tony Goes to…’ at The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC

Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC, concerts never lack for inspired high concepts and ingenious themes. Whether featuring love songs, cowboy songs, nostalgia songs, or who-knows-what-they’ll-come-up-with-next songs, GMCW shows are as much about genius programming as about glorious performances. But with And the Tony Goes to… the chorus may have raised its own bar. Because […]

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Magic Time!: “Never Fear Your Own Radical Ideas”: A Q&A with Malic White, Who Plays Max in ‘Hir’ at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

The young performer, playwright, and self-described gender warrior Malic White is in town from Chicago making a singularly significant debut on a DC stage playing Max, a whip-smart radical queer resister to heteronormativity. The play—Taylor Mac’s Hir—is a seditious celebration of gender liberation. It is also, as I wrote in my column, one of the funniest and profoundest farces I’ve […]

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Magic Time!: ‘Hir’ at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

The absurdity and grim reality of gender get a scathing going-over in this extraordinary play by Taylor Mac. Inside the hilarity of Hir (pronounced “here”) is a tragedy howling to get out. Taylor Mac, author of Hir, has a reputation for outrageous originality as a playwright, actor, singer-songwriter, performance artist, director, and producer. I’ve been […]

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Nicholas Edwards (Jesus) and Natascia Diaz (Mary) 
in Jesus Christ Superstar at Signature Theatre. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.jpg

Magic Time!: ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at Signature Theatre

There’s an extraordinarily tender and touching moment in Signature Theatre’s ebullient Jesus Christ Superstar when Mary Magdalene (Natascia Diaz), after singing her gorgeous ballad “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” snuggles alongside the sleeping body of Jesus (Nicholas Edwards), her backside to his front, and wraps his arm around her shoulders. OMG Mary and […]

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Sioux Falls by Megan Dominy at 10th Muse Productions

Review: ‘Sioux Falls’ at 10th Muse Productions at Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint

10th Muse Productions’ The Wedding Party was a huge hit in Capital Fringe 2015 (the DCMetroTheater Arts review called it a “delightful comedic romp”). It was a show that Maegan Dominy co-wrote (with Mimsi Janis).  Now in her own full-length play Sioux Falls, just premiered at Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint, Dominy weighs in with both levity and gravity on the hot-button topic of […]

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Magic Time!: ‘The Father’ at The Studio Theatre

There are reasons aplenty not to miss The Father now playing at The Studio Theatre, and Ted van Griethuysen’s performance in the title role is foremost among them. Recently the recipient of a Helen Hayes Tribute award, van Griethuysen commands the stage with incomparable expressivity of body and voice and presence of mind—even as the […]

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Review: ‘The Man Who’ at Spooky Action Theater

Curious questions tease the brain during this peculiarly provocative production. One is: Is this theater? Another is: What are we to make of it? The Man Who, just opened at the estimably idiosyncratic Spooky Action Theater, is about how the mind can be glitchy. It takes the form of a succession of 17 scenes depicting […]

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Magic Time!: ‘Outside Mullingar’ at The Keegan Theatre

How does a play that starts out about real estate for gosh sake—adjacent farms in rural Ireland—become a heart-wrenching story of adjacent lost souls who fall in love late in life? How does a play that starts out prosaically about inheritance rights of all things—who gets one of those two farms after its paterfamilias passes—become […]

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Review: ‘Protest’ at Alliance for New Music-Theatre

DC site-specific theater of resistance reached a new height last night—also a new low—as Alliance for New Music-Theatre’s arresting staging of Václav Havel’s Protest became the first play performed before a live audience in the District’s “new Subterranean Arts & Cultural Center,” the abandoned trolley roundabout now redone as Dupont Underground. The convergence of place, […]

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Magic Time!: ‘Laura Bush Killed a Guy’ at The Klunch

Who’da thunk that our current administration’s dysfunction would prompt nostalgia for our eight years worth of W.? But that indeed is the curious takeaway from watching Lisa Hodsoll’s poignant impersonation of Laura Bush in a surprisingly touching comedy by Ian Allen, now playing in a world premiere production by The Klunch at Caos on F. […]

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Jaysen Wright. Photo by Kristina Sherk.

Magic Time!: On Being Seen as “Angry Black Man”: A Q&A with Jaysen Wright About His Role in ‘Smart People’ at Arena Stage

I remember thinking after I first saw Lydia R. Diamond’s Smart People at Arena that the character Jaysen Wright plays, Jackson Moore, has an important and particular role in how whole the play plays, especially as Wright interpreted him. Despite being a very funny comedy, Smart People is built on a serious subject: how human brains are […]

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