Posts Tagged ‘DC Theatre reviews’

Side Show: Perfection Squared—Theatre

June 23, 2014

The reimagined production of the musical, “Side Show,” currently playing at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater, is as close to perfection as a play can come. A dramatic story beautifully sung and acted by every single cast member, “Side Show” is a stunning piece of work. This new production (in association with the La Jolla Playhouse), adds depth with fresh material to the 1997 Broadway musical, and is directed by Oscar-winner Bill Condon,with music by Henry Krieger, book and lyrics by Bill Russell and additional book material by Condon.photo (3)

“Side Show” is based on the real-life story of Daisy and Violet Hilton,conjoined twins born in early 20th century England. Abandoned by their mother at birth, they were put up for adoption and raised by a woman who put them on display, charging money to see them. When the twins were young, the woman married a circus side-show manager who made them the featured act in his show. He treated them horribly, considering the two to be his personal property. While on tour in the U.S., the girls finally gained the where-with-all to sue for their freedom and won their suit. They were now able to make their own choices. But would they really ever be free and just what would their future hold? In dramatically entertaining fashion, “Side Show” gives us the before and after story of that freedom.

“Side Show” takes on the freak aspect of the girls’ lives head on with a terrific opening number, “Come Look at the Freaks” (although these days, a tattooed woman is not all that freakish). We are introduced to each member of the show by circus owner, Sir (Robert Joy), with standout performances from each cast member.  We then meet the twins, Daisy and Violet (Emily Padgett and Erin Davie). The two look amazingly alike, but they have very different personalities. Daisy is an extrovert who likes fame and attention, while Violet is more introverted and wants a husband and home. But what they both desire more than anything else is to be treated, as they tell us in song, “Like Everyone Else.”

Daisy’s and Violet’s freak show existence is given a huge jolt in Texas when smooth-talking  talent agent, Terry (Ryan Silverman), and vocal and dance coach, Buddy (Matthew Hydzik), visit the show. Under their tutelage the twins grow more confident and when Terry encourages them to sue for their freedom and leave the show for the Orpheum Circuit, they do just that. It is a hard break because the circus cast has become their family. But with loyal friend, Jake (David St. Louis), leaving with them, the separation is made easier and their hopes are high as they begin their tour. But will they get the lives they imagined? Will they be happier? Who’s to say.

Emily Padgett and Erin Davie are equally fantastic. Their singing—either in unison or apart—is absolutely beautiful. Through their voices we really understand the highs and lows of the twins’ lives. How these two actresses manage to sing, dance and act so closely together every day is unimaginable. Theirs is a spectacular performance.

With the twins’ closing song of the first act, “Who Will Love Me As I Am,” you might think nothing could top that performance. Then the second act begins. Shortly thereafter Ryan Silverman’s Terry takes center stage, ruminating over his conflicting feelings for Daisy with a “A Private Conversation.” His voice fills the theatre in show-stopping theatre magic. Just when you’ve begun to recover emotionally and wonder if “Side Show” can possibly soar any higher, David St. Louis’ Jake comes forward to profess his love for one of the sisters in “You Should Be Loved.” It’s another heart-stopping moment of song.

In addition to the acting, singing and dancing, the costumes are also spectacular. The sisters wear gorgeous dresses throughout, and the costumes and makeup for the other characters are equally impressive.

“Side Show” is not a happy, go-lucky musical, but musical theatre in the very best sense of the words. It’s theatre you won’t soon forget.

“Side Show” runs through July 13.

4 nuggets out of 4

Arguendo: Chair Movement Does Not a Performance Make—Theatre

April 22, 2014

Arguendo,” the latest offering by DC’s Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, is an interesting attempt to make an entertaining mountain out of a mountain, but this attempt falls short…very short.

Directed by John Collins and performed by the Elevator Repair Service, “Arguendo” revolves around the 1991 Supreme Court Case, Barnes v. Glen Theatre Inc. This case, in a nutshell, was about whether or not one had the right to dance nude as a freedom of expression under the First Amendment. The case made its way through the various state courts before ending up on the Supreme Court docket.Arguendo

Prior to “Arguendo’s” beginning, the stage is set with three leather chairs in the background. Then the play opens on the Supreme Courthouse steps with TV reporters (Mike Iveson, Vin Knight, Susie Sokol, Benn Williams) grilling a woman (Maggie Hoffman) who dances in the nude for a living. She’s come to observe the proceedings. The repartee is very well done as she gives as good as she gets.

The heart of the performance finally starts…the hearing itself. It’s not nearly as entertaining as was the action on the steps. We have the lawyers arguing before the judges…three actors are on stage taking the parts of the nine judges. There is a lot of changing of wigs and much movement of chairs. The chair interplay is funny at first as are the expressions of the actors, but then you are left thinking, “is that all there is?” Sadly, the answer is “yes.” Oh, they try to jazz things up with the actual case transcripts scrolling up/down/across a screen, but that just serves to give one a headache. There is shuffling and throwing of paper…hilarious…not. Then the performance jumps ahead in time for a speech from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Susie Sokol), portrayed as a doddering old woman, explaining the rationale behind the collars the female justices wear. In her defense, Justice Ginsburg may be many things, but doddering is not one of them.

Over the years I’ve had a variety of experiences at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre…most of them very positive or at least thought provoking. This is the first time I’ve ever been bored.

1 ½ nugget out of 4

We Are Proud to Present: An Explosive Insight—Theatre

March 9, 2014

The Woolly Mammoth Theatre production, “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915,” is very much an in-your-face play about race relations and the creative process.

WAP-web-imageWritten by Jackie Sibblies and directed by Michael John Garcés, “We Are Proud to Present” takes place in a warehouse-like setting where six actors are developing a play about the German colonization of South West Africa and the atrocities that occurred during that colonization. The actors are only known as Black Man, Black Woman, White Man and White Woman. As they attempt to find the voice of the characters and the play through the use of real letters written by a soldier to his wife, Sarah, their own feelings about race bubble to the surface, resulting in an explosive finale.

What happened in South West Africa and its people was horrific. But while the acting in the play is phenomenal, somehow the plight of the country gets lost amidst the device used to tell its story—the thought process. We’re actually watching the thinking that goes into putting on a play…we get to see what normally goes on behind closed doors, before we get the final product on stage. For me, as an audience member, that became more interesting. How does an actor get into character? Do they take the work home with them? Do feelings linger? How do actors make the characters real to themselves? “We Are Proud to Present” showcases all these questions and this is the part of the play I found utterly fascinating, even though that wasn’t supposed to be my takeaway, I am sure. Adding to my conundrum was the ending. To be honest, I didn’t understand the change in the actors and in talking to other audience members…they didn’t either.

Each actor gets his or her chance to shine and all are terrific. Dawn Ursula seems to be the director/actor for the play within the play and is wonderful. She has the most expressive face and voice and “We Are Proud to Present” showcases her talent. Holly Twyford is wonderful when playing Sarah. Joe Isenberg and Andreu Honeycutt are ferociously and scarily brilliant as the younger male actors and Michael Anthony Williams and Peter Howard are both great as the voices of reason throughout the play.

As one has come to expect from a Woolly Mammoth production, the set design from Misha Kachman, while sparse, is outstanding and works beautifully.  Meghan E. Healey’s costumes are also spot-on.

Perhaps “We Are Proud to Present” tries to accomplish too much. Although it will give you something to think about, it ultimately misses the mark.

2 ½ nuggets out of 4

 

 

Seminar: Sign Up Now—Theatre

February 25, 2014

Just as “Inside Llewyn Davis” was a cautionary tale for those contemplating a career as a singer, the Bethesda Round House Theatre’s production, “Seminar,” puts the fear of God into those thinking they might be the next great novelist. Written by Theresa Rebeck and sharply directed by Jerry Whiddon, “Seminar” is a dark, but often funny look at the creative process and those who think they have the “gift.”

Seminar “Seminar” opens with a group of four 20-something writers gathering in a NYC apartment for a writing seminar with renowned novelist, Leonard (Marty Lodge). As we first meet them, save for Izzy (Laura C. Harris), none of them seem terribly likeable–all having that stereotypical NYC pseudo-intellectual aura about them. But as we get to know them, we begin to see that each really has a ton of insecurities–as writers and as human beings.  This becomes even more apparent when Leonard enters the fray and begins to critique each one’s work.  But Leonard is not without his own problems, coming with his own baggage as well as a mega-chip on his shoulders. What made Leonard the way he is? Do any of these writers have any kind of potential to make it? And just what constitutes success? “Seminar” attempts to address these questions and does so, for the most part, very satisfactorily and entertainingly.

Rebeck knows whereof she speaks. She’s enjoyed success as a playwright and writer for many television series. As the creator of 2013’s “Smash,” she also knows what it’s like to have one’s world upended when things don’t go according to plan. She brings all of this experience to her play, giving “Seminar” a huge dose of reality.

“Seminar” comes with a terrific cast. While all are very good, the standouts in this ensemble are Lodge, Katie deBuys as Kate and Alexander Strain as Martin. deBuys, so wonderful in Woolly Mammoth’s “Stupid F***king Bird” of last season, continues to shine.  It’s in her character’s apartment that the seminars meet and, therefore, she’s in nearly every scene. Her face is able to convey a variety of emotions that can be seen from the most distant seats. When her work is criticized, anyone who’s ever tried to write can identify with her reaction. Strain is terrific as the writer who’s really afraid to put his work out there. He actually fears criticism. His Martin is the member of the group with the most potential and the most psychological problems. The chip on his shoulder rivals that of Leonard’s, which might not be too unusual, since he is the most like Leonard.  Finally there is Marty Lodge. His character stirs the plot and as such he is fantastic. He very realistically portrays someone who has known what it is to have great success, lose it and try to rebuild. His Leonard is cunning, mean-spirited, belligerent and ultimately genuine.

A shout out must be given to James Kronzer’s sets and Ivania Stack’s costumes. The clothes are absolutely spot-on for this group and rarely does one hear applause for a set change as I did the night I was in the theatre.

If you love great acting in a witty, entertaining play, “Seminar” should be on your radar. It runs through March 2, so there is still time to get your ticket.

Round House Theatre, 4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814, Box Office: 240.644.1100

3 ½ nuggets out of 4

Appropriate: Family Battle is a Must—Theatre

November 19, 2013

Appropriate1Appropriate,” the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company‘s latest offering, written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and directed by Liesl Tommy, is a gripping drama sprinkled with very dark, pointed humor throughout. One thing is certain—after watching the play’s Lafayette family rip one another apart, “Appropriate” certainly made me feel better about my parents, siblings and our relationships.

Often family secrets, slights and hurts come out into the open at funerals or readings of a loved one’s will. Such is the case of the Lafayette family. They’ve come from New York, DC and Oregon to Arkansas to clean up their late father’s home so it can be auctioned off. A chance retrieval of a never-before-seen photo album full of horrific photos is the spark that lights the fuse, as the Lafayette family explodes before our very eyes.

“Appropriate” will make you feel uncomfortable at times because the battles between siblings and significant others are so intense. Sometimes you’ll feel like a child caught between two unhappily married parents. Other times viewing the play is like being a fly on the wall, but unlike the insect, you can’t just fly from the uncomfortable situation.

But in truth, you won’t want to flee, because, as usual, the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company has brought together a terrific cast of actors. Deborah Hazlett, as Toni, the oldest sibling, is a force of nature. Toni spent many years taking care of their father along with her own family, and has a huge chip on her shoulder for so doing. Hazlett is the embodiment of years of simmering frustration, resentment and anger which finally boil over.  David Bishins is very good as the middle sibling, Bo, who has kept his distance and as a result, at first blush, seems to have raised a normal family. Beth Hylton as Bo’s wife, Rachael, gives a powerful performance as woman with her own deep-seated family resentments. Finally, Tim Getman is terrific as the youngest Lafayette sibling, Frank, who went off to Oregon to get away from his troubled youth. The supporting cast is also exceptional—Caitlin McColl as River Rayner, Frank’s much younger girlfriend; Josh Adams as Rhys, Toni’s son who’ll soon be going off to live with his father; and most especially, Maya Brettell as Cassie, Bo and Rachael’s 13-year-old daughter.  She is fabulous as the teenager with the heart of an old soul.

Once again, Woolly’s sets are amazing and for “Appropriate” are designed by Clint Ramos, a newcomer to the Company. What he’s done to create chaos in the home is phenomenal.

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has written a powerful play with many memorable lines of dialogue that will stay with you, long after you’ve left  the Woolly. If you love theatre, you owe it to yourself to pay the Lafayettes a visit. Just stay out of the line of fire.

Runs through December 1.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 641 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

3 ½ nuggets out of 4

Detroit: Visit to the Motor City Falls Short—Theatre

October 1, 2013

“Detroit,” the first play of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company season, is terrifically acted and has a great set, but ultimately its story falls short.Detroit1

Written by Lisa D’Amour and directed by John Vreeke, “Detroit” is about two couples who live next door to one another in a close-in suburb of Detroit. Ben and Mary have lived in the neighborhood for a while and Sharon and Kenny have just moved in. Ben is recently unemployed and is starting an online business from home, while Mary works full-time. It’s not clear what Sharon and Kenny do, but Kenny has worked in construction.

As the play begins, the couples are getting together for a barbecue. It’s very much like a first date with someone you don’t know very well. Conversation comes in fits and starts…too much laughter at a joke…that kind of thing. But awkwardly a friendship develops between the couples. More frequent get-togethers occur and gradually secrets about one another are revealed as the gatherings become more boisterous. But how much do the new friends really know about one another?

As noted earlier, “Detroit” boasts phenomenal acting. Emily K. Townley and Tim Getman as Ben and Mary are fabulous. Townley, a Woolly regular, is never bad, and she shines as the unsure, volatile older neighbor. Getman’s role is more understated, but he excels at letting us know there’s more emotion beneath his calm exterior. Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey and Danny Gavigan are terrific as the slightly mysterious, unpredictable younger couple. Their scenes with their respective same-sex neighbors are especially good.

Woolly has configured the stage so that you are looking at the back of the two homes including backyards. Additionally, multi-media gives you the sights and sounds of the neighborhood. The audience is on both sides of the stage (front and back). It does make you feel like you are sitting in on the conversations taking place—the only trouble is that often one of the speaking actors has his/her back to you.

So what is the problem with the play? Despite all it has going for it, “Detroit” feels very static and at some point I just stopped caring. The play’s notes say that “America’s middle class is disappearing, and these two couples begin the play suspended over the abyss.” I didn’t make that connection and the story…the words…they just didn’t engage me.

That said, time spent with the Woolly Company is never a total miss. In “Detroit’s” case, the acting makes up for a lot.

Runs through October 6.

2 nuggets out of 4

The Velocity of Autumn: Terrific in Any Season—Theatre

September 12, 2013

“You know you’re getting old when you start making sound effects for your body.”

Chris (Stephen Spinella)

Accepting the fact that you are getting older and dealing with that fact is the theme for the amazing dark comedy, “The Velocity of Autumn.” Written by Eric Coble and directed by Molly Smith, “The Velocity of Autumn” is Arena Stage’s new play and it is a winner.IMG00256-20130912-2024

The play stars Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella as mother and son, Alexandra and Chris. When the curtain opens, we find Alexandra barricaded in her Brooklyn apartment.  She’s threatening to blow up her Park Slope home, and, in truth, her home is an explosion waiting to happen. She knows her other son and daughter (only referred to but never seen) want her to move into some kind of elder care facility, fearing she’s too old to care for herself…and as she later confesses, she has experienced periods of confusion. Making an unexpected, hilarious entrance into her apartment is Chris. He’s come at the behest of his siblings to talk their mother safely out of her apartment.

And what a talk it is. Chris left Brooklyn 20 years ago, never to return. As he tells Alexandra, he didn’t feel free in New York. The more the two talk, the more Chris…and the audience…realize that son and mother have so much in common. Chris is an artist like his mom and has her sensibilities. Like her, he is afraid of growing old.

The two actors are astounding; they actually seem like mother and son. You can see Parson’s face visibly light up when she talks about her character’s love for art and her son. And as Spinella talks about suicide, his life out west, art and how he felt growing up, it feels very real…the audience is so quiet, you can literally hear a pin drop.

Eric Coble’s writing is phenomenal. The characters are completely drawn and the dialogue is chock full of witticisms that mean something.  When Alexandra says, “I don’t know how to be old,” you find yourself nodding in agreement. And I don’t think I’ve ever heard a line about aging resonate more than when she exclaims, “I’m not me anymore, whoever me was…soon there will be less and less me.”

There are expectations that “The Velocity of Autumn” will make it to Broadway. If that happens, it is Broadway’s gain. But right now “The Velocity of Autumn” is in DC and you should take every opportunity to see it.

Runs through October 20, 2013

Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth Street, SW, Washington, DC  20024

4 nuggets out of 4

The Book of Mormon: Say “Hello” Now—Theatre

August 7, 2013

Like “The Book of Mormon,” I believe.  I believe The Kennedy Center’s production of “The Book of Mormon” is the best musical I have seen in quite some time. You can believe, too. Believe all the hype that surrounds this amazing show.Book of Mormon-KenCen

Frequently the touring production of a Broadway hit can be a letdown. But it’s hard to how imagine that what you’ll see at NYC’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre could be any better than what you’ll see at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in DC.

With book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone, “The Book of Mormon” takes an irreverent look at the “selling” of Mormonism. In truth, however, this play could be about any organized religion that seeks to spread its message and gain converts (see Bill Maher’s “Religulous”).  “The Book of Mormon” is really smart, extremely creative, funny, offensive and loving…yes loving. With “South Park’s” Parker and Stone at the helm, would you expect anything else? Their series is routinely profane and hilarious, but it’s also full of heart. So it is with “The Book of Mormon.”

“Mormon” is the story of Elder Price (Mark Evans) and his follower, Elder Cunningham (Christopher John O’Neill),  and their efforts to bring Mormonism to Uganda. It’s about losing faith and finding it again.

The Kennedy Center cast is phenomenal. The two leads are absolutely fantastic. O’Neill is terrific as follower Cunningham who finds his confidence and voice in Africa. It’s impossible to believe that this is his professional debut as a theatrical performer. How is that possible? He delivers his lines like a Broadway veteran and sings and dances with abandon. I thought, at first, that he might over shadow Evans’ Elder Price. I was wrong.  Evans holds his own and then some.  His Price is the Mormon who has always done what’s expected of him and is used to being viewed as “the chosen one.” When he is sent to Uganda rather than the hoped-for Orlando, his faith is severely tested. Price manages to reinvigorate his beliefs in the number, “I Believe.” At that moment, Mark Evans owns the stage and it’s positively magical.

The supporting cast is extremely strong. Samantha Marie Ware’s Nabulungi has an especially beautiful voice and does a great job at conveying naiveté and joy.

Each number is choreographed to perfection and the sets and costumes are astounding. “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream,” in particular, is a stand-out as are the opening and closing versions of “Hello.”

The Kennedy Center‘s “Book of Mormon” production runs through August 18. The touring company will be making the rounds of other cities throughout the year. Be it NYC, DC, Chicago or any city, for that matter…see it! See it! See it!

Runs through August 18

4 nuggets out of 4

Stupid F**king Bird: F**king Smart Play—Theatre

June 17, 2013

What a way for a season to end…literally and figuratively…with a big, loud Woolly bang!SFB

Stupid F**king Bird,” written by Aaron Posner and directed by Howard Shalwitz, is, as the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company puts it, “sort of adapted” from “The Seagull” by Anton Chekhov. Having never read or seen the play (I guess that’s what comes from being a journalism major), I take them at their word. All I know is that “Bird” is one of the most satisfying, electrifying experiences I have had at the theatre in ages.

As written by Posner, “Bird” is about love—mother/son, man/woman, love realized/love unrequited. In some respects it’s also about love of life, love for what one does in that life. Most especially, it’s about how one handles the disappointments of love in all of it facets.  If  this seems impossible to cover in one play, it could be. But in the accomplished hands of “Bird’s” playwright (and Chekhov), director and actors, this play succeeds on every level and then some.

“Stupid F**king Bird” is about a group of actors—close friends and family. The glass-is-half-empty Mash (Kimberly Gilbert) is hopelessly in love with young, overwrought playwright Conrad (Brad Koed), although she knows that Dev (Darius Pierce) worships the ground on which she walks. Unfortunately for Mash, Conrad loves his muse, ingénue Nina (Katie deBuys), who loves him until she meets author Doyle (Cody Nickell). But, as luck would have it, Doyle is attached to actress Emma (Kate Eastwood Norris), mother to Conrad and sister to Sorn (Rick Foucheux), a doctor, who in his 60s, is now questioning whether or not he made the right career choice.

To the assembled group, and to the Woolly audience, Conrad’s play, “Here We Are” makes its debut and it’s this debut that propels “Bird” forward. Where are we? Are we here? What is real? In the piece, Nina asks these questions over and over and over. It all seems ludicrous, but then, like Dev and Sorn, we get “it.” Even the audience gets in on the act as the actors humorously address the theatre-goers and we return the favor. It might sound strange, but somehow it all seems natural, and the dialogue just flows.

And what a cast! If he never does anything else, Brad Koed’s emotional performance as Conrad is something I will remember for the rest of my theatre-loving life. Kimberly Gilbert’s Mash is so real—there is no other word for it. And she not only acts, but sings and plays the ukulele. Her voice is beautiful and when accompanied by the fantastic, understated performance of Darius Pierce on the guitar, piano, or just plain talking, magic happens. Kate Eastwood Norris’ Emma is sheer perfection as the seasoned actress who’s seen and experienced it all and she is matched step for step by Cody Nickell’s conflicted Doyle. Is Rick Foucheux ever less than wonderful? Not to my knowledge. His role is smaller than that of the rest of the cast, but just as important. He shows masterfully how you can do everything right and still be so wrong. Finally is Katie deBuys’ Nina. To some extent it’s Nina actions that affect everyone, and deBuys is terrifically poignant in earning your sympathy, losing it and reclaiming it at play’s end.

“Stupid F**king Bird” is the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company at its devastatingly biting, touching best. It is not to be missed.

4 nuggets out of 4

Through June 23

Woolly Mammoth Theatre, 641 D St. NW, Washington, DC

The Convert: Returning to Roots—Theatre

February 26, 2013

The Convert,” the Woolly Mammoth’s latest production takes you through a lengthy roller-coaster of emotions, but it is so worth the ride.

Written by Danai Gurira and directed by Michael John Garcés, “The Convert” takes place in Rhodesia (today called Zimbabwe) in the mid 1880’s. During this time, the English colonized the country and tried to impose its culture, traditions and religion upon the people. Some accepted the English way of life, while many “resisted.”The Convert

“The Convert” introduces us to three types of Africans comprising mid 1880’s Rhodesia: highly educated Africans who have converted to Christianity; less educated Africans who have learned English, but not necessarily converted to Christianity…or are Christian by day and traditional by night;  and finally, the Africans who have refused to be colonized in any way.

We are first introduced to Jekesai (Nancy Moricette), escaping from an unwanted marriage to a much older village elder. She finds refuge in the home of her Aunt Mai Tamba’s (Starla Benford) employer, Chilford (Irungu Mutu). Chilford, an educated African, has embraced Catholicism and has come to believe the ways of the white man are superior. He takes Jekesai under his Catholic wing and renames her Ester.  At first Ester is completely overwhelmed by Chilford’s home and  airs. But she is a quick learner and her conversion as portrayed by Moricette is astonishing to behold. A lesser actor might make Chilford a dandy or a strident fool. Somehow Mutu manages to present him sympathetically and we find ourselves caring about him and his future.

Prudence (Dawn Ursula) is another highly educated African, a friend of Chilford and engaged to Chilford’s friend, Chancellor (Alvin Keith).  One isn’t really sure what lies beneath her mannered, manicured façade until revealed in the final scenes. It’s a very complex part and Ursula is magnificent in it.

Erik Kilpatrick and JaBen Early, as Ester’s uncle and cousin Tamba respectively, represent the rebelling class in Africa…the natives who refuse to “assimilate.” Although we understand where they are coming from, they aren’t portrayed kindly (and why should they, given the situation?). These are tough roles, but the two actors handle them well.

Shockingly, “The Convert’s” three hours pass by fairly quickly. Each character is given his/her due and every morsel of dialogue is important. You find yourself thinking during the play, and you’re still thinking at the play’s end.

“With “The Convert,” not only do the characters come full circle, so does the Woolly Mammoth. Woolly’s acting is always top-notch as are most of its plays, but “The Convert” provides us with the intimacy of the old Church Street theatre, often missing from the beautiful new theatre. Part of the stage is constructed like a runway and it brings the actors closer to the audience, much like the old Woolly. The only complaint is that sometimes the actors are standing right in front of one another so that some of the audience can’t see the actors’ expressions. However, that is a small complaint in three hours worth of mind-boggling entertainment. “The Convert” is a dramatic wonder…beautifully and forcefully written and performed. It should not be missed.

4 nuggets out of 4

Through March 10

Woolly Mammoth Theatre, 641 D St. NW, Washington, DC


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