Author Archive | Robert Michael Oliver

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Review: Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF): ‘Everything Is Wonderful’

The Amish with their horse and buggy, 19th century culture; their simple, old world uniforms and habits; their infamous Rumspringa where the teenage Amish is given the opportunity to choose between the church and the outside “English” world; and, after the West Nickel Mines school massacre, the Amish’s capacity to forgive. Chelsea Marcantel’s Everything is […]

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Review: Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF): ‘Byhalia, Mississippi’

Evan Linder‘s Byhalia, Mississippi pulls theatre-goers into familiar territory: the “white trash” world of Laurel and Jim. Once there, however, the unfamiliar takes shape: amidst the gutter talk, the racist behavior, the working poor’s low life, and the familial muddle, an endearing respect emerges for the grit and determination and love of Laurel and Jim. […]

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Spine: ‘When We Were Young and Unafraid’ at The Keegan Theatre

Stepping back 45 years, America is in the midst of a social revolution, and feminist consciousness-raising sessions are underway. Radical feminists, cultural feminists, and political feminists are all calling for social change, from the passing of laws to protect women to the wholesale transformation of American society. Sarah Treem’s new play, When We Were Young and […]

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Review: ‘The Return’ at Mosaic Theater Company of DC, Part of the 2017 Voice From a Changing Middle East Festival

Mosaic Theatre Company of DC concluded their 2017 season with a riveting, deeply provocative examination of a State’s National Security apparatus on dissident individuals living and loving beneath it. The Return by Hanna Eady and Edward Mast has Her (Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan) return to Israel after an eight-year absence in America. Her mission: to repair the […]

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Review: Source Festival 2017: ‘Exquisite Depths’: Artistic Blind Date

One of the elements of the Source Festival 2017 is two Artistic Blind Dates. These collective creations bring together area artists from different disciplines to devise an original performance piece. After ten years of Source Festivals, I experienced my first Blind Date last night: Exquisite Depths, a 20-minute, three-person poetic drama exploring the murkiness of […]

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Spine: ‘Ulysses on Bottles’ at Mosaic Theater Company of DC, Part of the 2017 Voice From a Changing Middle East Festival

Last night, Gilad Evron’s Ulysses on Bottles opened the Mosaic Theater Company’s 2017 Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival. Described as an allegory, Evron’s Ulysses challenges contemporary American and Israeli audiences to acknowledge some stark and painful national contradictions. In a nation obsessed by legal systems, how often does legality hide the grossest injustices? […]

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Review: ‘The Father’ at The Studio Theatre

Some plays are more difficult to watch than others; some plays activate your imagination and pull you into their stories whole-body: those plays pull you into the psychological realities they portray. The Father by French Playwright Florian Zeller (translated by Christopher Hampton) is just such a play, and when a stellar ensemble is led by […]

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Spine: ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ at Synetic Theater

The spectacle of movement has always been Synetic’s star attraction. When those primal, emotional moments fuse with a strong narrative throughline, Synetic’s brilliance shines brightest. Their newest star, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which opened last night at the Crystal City Theater, is a supernova, for all the darkest reasons. Combining a spectacle that entrances with […]

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Review: ‘Laura Bush Killed a Guy’ at The Klunch

I didn’t know that Laura Bush had killed a guy. It really had never crossed my mind. Well, after seeing Ian Allen’s Laura Bush Killed a Guy, now playing at the Klunch at Caos on F Street (according to urbandictionary.com Klunch means: to really get deeply involved [in] something), that’s all I’ll think about: sweet, demure Laura, a murderer. […]

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Spine: ‘Three Sisters’ by the Maly Drama Theatre at The Kennedy Center

With the Maly Drama Theatre’s Three Sisters, playing through April 30 at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theatre, theatre lovers will feast on every slow motion wonderment, every long glance into emptiness, every hysterical laugh at utterly meaningless boredom. For this is Chekhov, the master playwright, and his master play, Three Sisters, being performed by a […]

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Review: ‘Smart People’ at Arena Stage

As soon as the lights come up on Lydia R. Diamond’s Smart People, now playing at Arena’s Kreeger Theater, the focus is clear. Or is it? Are four really “smart” people, who are only trying to save the world from itself, being shut down by an entrenched Western, “racist” mindset? Or are four “smart” people […]

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