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Author Archive | Robert Michael Oliver

Maboud Ebrahimzadeh (Henry Condell). Photo by Kaley Etzkorn.

Review: ‘The Book of Will’ at Round House Theatre

For the love of Shakespeare! There’s no doubt that Americans love their Shakespeare. In fact, many consider him America’s best playwright—? Then again, many Americans also love their fake news. But, if you love your Shakespeare, then you’ll love Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will, now playing at Bethesda’s Round House Theatre. By the end, […]

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Review: ‘Curve of Departure’ at Studio Theatre

Rachel Bonds’ new play, Curve of Departure, now playing at Studio Theatre, is that rarity among modern plays: it’s traditional storytelling at its most engaging. Enter Rudy, played with a glorious combination of grumpy-old-man and juvenile-trickster by Peter Van Wagner. He’s losing his mind, and control over his bowels. At curtain, we also meet Linda, played […]

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Review: ‘Nina Simone: Four Women’ at Arena Stage

After the Birmingham 16th Street Baptist Church bombing of 1963, Nina Simone turned her singing career toward the Civil Rights’ struggle. After a decade of singing mostly popular music, and building a substantial fan base, she had had enough; she was ready to take on the world. Christina Ham’s Nina Simone: Four Women introduces us to that […]

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Review: ‘Top Girls’ at Keegan Theatre

Only the indubitable Caryl Churchill could, in a play about a contemporary dysfunctional British family, give us an opening restaurant scene that includes the likes of: Dull Gret (a warrior peasant woman from Breughel’s famous painting), Pope Joan (the fictional woman who served as Pope for a few years during the Middle Ages), Lady Nijo […]

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Review: Isley Brothers at The Kennedy Center

The Isley Brothers rocked into The Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall this last Sunday night. Though the Hall is still standing, it may never be the same. Since their founding in 1955, the Isley Brothers have recorded numerous Gold and Platinum Albums, with dozens of number 1 hits. Their first Grammy Award came in 1970 with “It’s Your Thing.” Since […]

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Review: NEA Jazz Master Ron Carter Trio at The Kennedy Center

The Ron Carter Trio visited The Kennedy Center this Friday night. Consisting of bassist Carter, pianist Donald Vega, and guitarist Russell Malone, the harmonics couldn’t have been sweeter; the melodies, more agreeably delightful; or the riffs, more creative of joy. Led by Jazz Master Carter, the trio began the evening with several in memoriam pieces for […]

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Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

Review: Dizzy Gillespie Centennial Celebration at The Kennedy Center

Dizzy Gillespie’s 100th birthday celebration at The Kennedy Center jazzed the Eisenhower Theatre last night. I’m sure the rooftop is still aglow this morning. Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993) revolutionized bebop; he and Charlie “Bird” Parker launched modern jazz. The evening began when NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Heath, a lifelong friend of Gillespie, described his first big […]

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Review: NEA Jazz Master Lee Konitz’s Birthday Celebration at The Kennedy Center

Nonagenarian jazz–what is it? It’s Lee Konitz leading a quartet that includes George Schuller on drums, Jeremy Stratton on bass, and Dan Tepfer on piano. And in his Kennedy Center’s Birthday Celebration, Konitz couldn’t have been any more expressive, or ready for flight. Nuanced, graceful, unhurried, and sublime are but a few of the descriptors […]

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Review: ‘The Price’ at Arena Stage

Arthur Miller is best known for his two American classics: Death of a Salesman and All My Sons. American high schoolers still know him for his third significant work, The Crucible. Although The Price, now playing at Arena Stage’s Kogod Cradle, might not be among his most significant works, its penetrating examination of the choices […]

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Spine: Love and Menace in ‘The Lover’ and ‘The Collection’ at Shakespeare Theatre Company

Early Pinter is marked by menace. The Room, The Birthday Party, and The Homecoming leave a chill in the air, and in the audience’s agitated brain. We are disturbed as much by what we don’t know as by what we can extrapolate from cryptic innuendo. The Lover and The Collection, two early Pinter one-acts now playing at The Shakespeare Theatre Company, have but […]

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Review: ‘M. Butterfly’ at Everyman Theatre

Though written 30 years ago, few contemporary plays speak so profoundly to America’s current situation in the world as does David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly, now playing at Baltimore’s Everyman Theatre. A complex and compelling drama, M. Butterfly explores the psycho-cultural terrain of what celebrated author Edward Said called Orientalism: the West’s compulsion to romanticize and feminize the East. Butterfly premiered […]

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