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Author Archive | John Stoltenberg

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Magic Time!: ‘The Last Night of Ballyhoo’ at Theater J

The production is lushly beautiful; the pacing, impeccable; the music between scenes, splendid; the acting, a delight in every detail. And the warm, piquant humor in this Jewish family drama has a comforting old-timey feel—like the fun pleasure one could have watching a family comedy series on television back in the day when there were […]

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Magic Time!: “My Job Is to Crack Open My Soul”: A Q&A with Justin Weaks, Now Appearing in ‘Curve of Departure’ at Studio Theatre

Justin Weaks was recently named by the Washington Post one of DMV’s 12 “stage dynamos,” one of “the best of an emerging cadre of younger regional talent.” He would have been on my short list too. I’ve been impressed with his work in the seven plays I’ve seen him in, and I can now add to that list his […]

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Review: ‘Draw the Circle’ at Mosaic Theater Company

Draw the Circle is no ordinary one-man show. Nor is it an ordinary autobiographical play. Because Mashuq Mushtaq Deen—its transgender playwright and solo performer—has a singularly fascinating life story to tell. And the way he tells it is even more amazing. When Deen was born into his conservative Muslim family, he was assigned female. That […]

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Thomas Keegan as Thomas in Misterman. Photo by DJ Corey Photography.

Review: ‘Misterman’ at Solas Nua

A tour de force performance by Thomas Keegan and masterful stage arts combine to make Solas Nua’s Misterman a jaw-droppingly good show. Directed and choreographed by Artistic Director Rex Daugherty, the monumental production takes over a sprawling dance space on 14th Street, makes of it the cluttered shambles of a warehouse where the character Thomas […]

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Review: ‘The Ugly One’ at Nu Sass Productions

The gutsy woman-centric theater company Nu Sass is notable for producing works that feature women in major roles, onstage and off, typically in a tiny second-floor space on F Street that seats only 30 and feels a lot like a living room. In both substance and setting, Nu Sass creates up-close experiences that audiences cannot […]

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Review: ‘The Real Americans’ at Mosaic Theater Company

“Why am I a stranger in my own land?” the preternaturally talented actor-writer Dan Hoyle asks during his solo excursion into the heartland of America. Having set forth several years ago by van from San Francisco (“So long, liberal bubble!”), he traveled a hundred days to listen to “the real Americans,” the folks left behind […]

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Magic Time!: ‘Vicuña & The American Epilogue’ at Mosaic Theater Company

“Even monsters need clothing,” says the bespoke tailor Anselm, an Arab Jew and immigrant, defending why he will sew a vicuña suit for a Republican presidential candidate whom his intern Amir, a first-generation Iranian American, finds deplorable and dangerous. The fictional candidate is a thinly disguised proxy for a certain wannabe winner with an evident emperor’s […]

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Review: ‘In the Red and Brown Water’ at Howard University

The wonder-filled stories that wend their way through In the Red and Brown Water were located by the playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney in “the distant present” in a fictional town in Louisiana. But in the mesmerizing and lyrical production at Howard University, the set evokes more an ancient Greek amphitheater—curving pink stone steps framed within […]

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Magic Time!: ‘Hello, My Name Is…’ at The Welders

Having heralded five* Welders productions, I approached Deb Sivigny’s Hello, My Name Is… with both eagerness and wariness. Knowing that Sivigny had chosen as her subject a fact of her own biography—international adoption—I went aware that sometimes the very personal works onstage and sometimes it doesn’t, and saying so when it doesn’t can be awkward […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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