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Author Archive | Robert Michael Oliver

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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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Spine: ‘A Human Being Died That Night’ at Mosaic Theater Company

About midway through Mosaic Theater’s A Human Being Died That Night, Eugene de Kock, serving two life sentences for murder and assassination, turns to his interviewer, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, and says, in effect, that the privileged people of South Africa knew all along what he and the South African Special Forces were doing: the kidnapping, the torturing, the […]

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The Cast of 'Back to Methuselah Part 3.' Photo by C Stanley Photograph.

Review: ‘Back to Methuselah Part 3: As Far as Thought Can Reach’ at Washington Stage Guild

George Bernard Shaw loves words. Even his stage directions are wordy. He also loved ideas, philosophy, aesthetics, politics… In Back to Methuselah Part 3: As Far as Thought Can Reach, Shaw reaches that love’s zenith. The words roll, the ideas thunder, the philosophy rains, the aesthetics flood, the politics drown. And with it, The Washington […]

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Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

Review: ‘Battlefield’ at The Kennedy Center

In The Empty Space Peter Brook declared that the stage has “two rules: (1) Anything can happen and (2) Something must happen.” In Battlefield, his collaboration with Marie-Hélène Estienne, those two rules are shown the exception. And the effect could not be more powerful. If not for the applause, I’d be sitting there still, absorbing […]

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Review: ‘What Every Girl Should Know’ and ‘Dry Land’ in Rep at Forum Theatre

One hundred years separate the young women in What Every Girl Should Know and Dry Land, now playing in rep at Forum Theatre. In Monica Byrne’s What Every Girl Should Know, the four teenage girls are housed in a pre-suffrage Catholic reformatory where their capacity to dream is limited to fantasies of romance and murder. In Ruby Rae Spiegel’s Dry Land, the three […]

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Review: ‘Needles and Opium’ at The Kennedy Center

Sometimes the viewer of a theatrical experience can only sit in wonder at the spectacle, not because elephants dance on soccer balls or trapeze artists spiral on silken threads, but because actors sit on ceilings while quoting Sartre’s Nausea and dialing 911 (metaphorically). Such a theatrical experience is Robert Lepage’s Needles and Opium, the first of The Kennedy Center’s Spotlight on […]

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