Jack L. B. Gohn

A lawyer, blogger, and critic of many years’ standing, Jack is a regular columnist on public affairs and the law for the Maryland Daily Record. For several years he reviewed theater for the Baltimore Business Journal and books for the Baltimore Sun. His writings have appeared in the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, as well as the Maryland and Georgetown Law Journals and other professional legal and literary publications. Check out his blog, www.thebigpictureandthecloseup.com . He is delighted to be reviewing theater once again.
MOST POPULAR ARTICLES
LAST 30 DAYS

BWW Reviews: Only Two Duets: Red Branch Does Not Solve The Last 5 Years' MysteriesBWW Reviews: Only Two Duets: Red Branch Does Not Solve The Last 5 Years' Mysteries
Posted: Apr. 6, 2014


BWW Reviews: Satisfying JOHN & JEN at Red BranchBWW Reviews: Satisfying JOHN & JEN at Red Branch
Posted: Apr. 21, 2014


LAST 365 DAYS

BWW Reviews: Art, Life, and the Meaning of It All Up For Discussion – and Combat – in H2O at CATFBWW Reviews: Art, Life, and the Meaning of It All Up For Discussion – and Combat – in H2O at CATF
Posted: Jul. 10, 2013


BWW Reviews: Poetic, Exotic, Amoral, and Fascinating: Oscar Wilde's SALOME at SCENABWW Reviews: Poetic, Exotic, Amoral, and Fascinating: Oscar Wilde's SALOME at SCENA
Posted: Jul. 19, 2013


BWW Reviews: IN THE HEIGHTS at Toby's - Energetic But InaudibleBWW Reviews: IN THE HEIGHTS at Toby's - Energetic But Inaudible
Posted: May. 12, 2013


BWW Reviews: An Actorly SPRING AWAKENING at TowsonBWW Reviews: An Actorly SPRING AWAKENING at Towson
Posted: Apr. 28, 2013


BWW Reviews: Visiting the Illyrian Casbah: Center Stage Does TWELFTH NIGHT ProudBWW Reviews: Visiting the Illyrian Casbah: Center Stage Does TWELFTH NIGHT Proud
Posted: Mar. 14, 2014


BWW Reviews: Satan from Within: A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World at Contemporary American Theater FestivalBWW Reviews: Satan from Within: A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World at Contemporary American Theater Festival
Posted: Jul. 8, 2013


BWW Reviews: An Absence, Inadequately Explained - Gardley's DANCE OF THE HOLY GHOSTS at CenterstageBWW Reviews: An Absence, Inadequately Explained - Gardley's DANCE OF THE HOLY GHOSTS at Centerstage
Posted: Oct. 22, 2013


BWW Reviews: Satisfying JOHN & JEN at Red BranchBWW Reviews: Satisfying JOHN & JEN at Red Branch
April 21, 2014

Of course, the musical is not just the tale of the working-out and the ultimate dispelling of a family curse. It is also a poignant account of a woman relating to a treasured younger brother and an even more treasured son in light of the early loss of the brother.
BWW Reviews: Only Two Duets: Red Branch Does Not Solve The Last 5 Years' MysteriesBWW Reviews: Only Two Duets: Red Branch Does Not Solve The Last 5 Years' Mysteries
April 6, 2014

The Last 5 Years is a treasure of the American musical theater, the quintessential chamber musical. Jason Robert Brown's mini-masterpiece boasts but two performers, a small musical ensemble, a challenging but moving score, and a simple but powerful structure designed to maintain dramatic equilibrium and balance between the characters from start to finish. Not surprisingly, it is often produced (34 productions announced this year - not to mention a film version).
BWW Reviews: Visiting the Illyrian Casbah: Center Stage Does TWELFTH NIGHT ProudBWW Reviews: Visiting the Illyrian Casbah: Center Stage Does TWELFTH NIGHT Proud
March 14, 2014

The vulnerability of Witt's recreated Illyria makes the joy in the show shine all the brighter. There will never be a definitive production of any Shakespeare play, but this is one of the truly special ones.
BWW Reviews: Caustic, Hilarious BOOK OF MORMON at HippodromeBWW Reviews: Caustic, Hilarious BOOK OF MORMON at Hippodrome
February 28, 2014

So, after trashing Mormonism, and by implication most other faiths (since most have foundational myths about as likely-sounding as the LDS ones, and taboos that are no less but also no more sensible than those which restrain the Mormons), there are two natural places to end up. One would be in some kind of existential humanism, the other in some kind of existential despair. But the creators don't want to go either place. So they have to fudge it, with a huge spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down and a philosophically confused but dramatically permissible twist. There is some kind of reason for the whole cast and the audience to be exultant at the end.
BWW Reviews: THE PIANO TEACHER at The REP - Mysterioso and LacrimosoBWW Reviews: THE PIANO TEACHER at The REP - Mysterioso and Lacrimoso
February 10, 2014

Something happened involving those two and Mrs. K's deceased husband. We may think we know, but I suspect most guesses will be wrong. We know the play is going in a dark direction, but we may well not guess how dark.
BWW Reviews: And Now for Something Completely Hilarious: SPAMALOT at Toby's
January 27, 2014

There's nonsense delivered in true Cantabridgian style, i.e. with insane argumentative rigor. There are dazzling scantily-clad showgirls and showboys. There are songs that are wonderfully self-referential and songs that push the limits of taste. And there are lots of tag-lines and tropes for Monty Python fans - and who isn't? Hard to quarrel with an assemblage of attractions like that.
BWW Reviews: A Lot Like Christmas: MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET at Toby's Columbia
November 24, 2013

You may know it as Here's Love. You may know it as It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas. (The show has been produced under both titles.) Currently the 1963 Meredith Willson musical based on the film Miracle on 34th Street goes under the name of its source material, the 1947 classic movie, and Toby's Columbia is presenting it in a very impressive revival.
BWW Reviews: Walk Like The Four Seasons: JERSEY BOYS Tour Hits The HippodromeBWW Reviews: Walk Like The Four Seasons: JERSEY BOYS Tour Hits The Hippodrome
November 15, 2013

This is probably the preeminent jukebox musical, beautifully presented. And if you can't visit the New York mother ship, this will do nicely.
BWW Reviews: Truth Transcending Mere Facts: I AM MY OWN WIFE at The REPBWW Reviews: Truth Transcending Mere Facts: I AM MY OWN WIFE at The REP
November 4, 2013

The point of von Mahlsdorf was that she survived, and in doing so permitted her collection and the world it evoked to survive as well. As she tells the audience at the end: "You must save everything and you must show it as is. It is a record of life." Everything, in this case, including accounts that cannot entirely be reconciled with the documentary history. It is all, in some sense, true, all, in some sense, a record of life.
BWW Reviews: An Absence, Inadequately Explained - Gardley's DANCE OF THE HOLY GHOSTS at CenterstageBWW Reviews: An Absence, Inadequately Explained - Gardley's DANCE OF THE HOLY GHOSTS at Centerstage
October 22, 2013

I cannot honestly report I saw much profundity in what was said here. We learn next to nothing about Oscar's need to walk out the door, where it came from, why he yields to it so willingly and thoughtlessly, why he is so stubbornly resistant to his family's promptings to man up, stick around, and step up to the plate on occasion.
BWW Reviews: Poetic, Exotic, Amoral, and Fascinating: Oscar Wilde's SALOME at SCENABWW Reviews: Poetic, Exotic, Amoral, and Fascinating: Oscar Wilde's SALOME at SCENA
July 19, 2013

This is poetry, poetry for the mind to sink into and be overwhelmed. To paraphrase Mae West, goodness has nothing to do with it. Nor does badness. It comes from some amoral place in Wilde's psyche and appeals to that place in ours.
BWW Reviews: Old Hat But Interesting: Shepard's HEARTLESS at Shepherdstown's CATFBWW Reviews: Old Hat But Interesting: Shepard's HEARTLESS at Shepherdstown's CATF
July 16, 2013

I am not sure what Shepard is doing in Shepherdstown. The Contemporary American Theater Festival held there is dedicated to performing 'new American plays.' There's nothing new to me about Sam Shepard's play Heartless; it seems distinctly old hat. I went back to a review I wrote of one of his plays for my college newspaper in 1970, and a number of the things I wrote about that play (The Holy Ghostly) could be said about Heartless. I commented how characters migrate into each other, how they become composites of various characters, how there is no predictable logic to their interactions, and how the drama loses the sense of being story-telling about distinct persons. I compared what Shepard did to abstract painting. And, on the evidence of Heartless, it's still true.
BWW Reviews: Likeable Frenemies in St. Germain's SCOTT AND HEM at CATFBWW Reviews: Likeable Frenemies in St. Germain's SCOTT AND HEM at CATF
July 12, 2013

'Every good story's a war story,' says a character in Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah, premiering at the Contemporary American Theater Festival. That certainly seems to be playwright Mark St. Germain's approach in imagining a 1937 encounter between writers F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.
BWW Reviews: Of Dual Citizenship and Pulled Rugs: MODERN TERRORISM at CATFBWW Reviews: Of Dual Citizenship and Pulled Rugs: MODERN TERRORISM at CATF
July 11, 2013

All of them, then, have one foot in Muslim culture and one in the Western culture Muslim terrorists affect to despise, and that is part of the point author Jon Kern is making about them. Whether they like it or not, they are dual citizens. What enrages them is also a part of them, and it means that in waging war on Americans, they are also waging war on themselves.
BWW Reviews: Art, Life, and the Meaning of It All Up For Discussion – and Combat – in H2O at CATFBWW Reviews: Art, Life, and the Meaning of It All Up For Discussion – and Combat – in H2O at CATF
July 10, 2013

H2O will leave you dealing not only with your feelings about the characters, but also reconsidering art, life, and The Meaning of It All.
BWW Reviews: Satan from Within: A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World at Contemporary American Theater FestivalBWW Reviews: Satan from Within: A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World at Contemporary American Theater Festival
July 8, 2013

If George Bernard Shaw had taken it into his head to write a sequel to Arthur Miller's The Crucible, with an assist from William Shakespeare, he might have come up with something much like Liz Duffy Adams's A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World.
BWW Reviews: IN THE HEIGHTS at Toby's - Energetic But InaudibleBWW Reviews: IN THE HEIGHTS at Toby's - Energetic But Inaudible
May 12, 2013

In The Heights is not standard Maryland dinner theater fare, concerning, as it does, the residents of a largely Dominican and Puerto Rican barrio at the northern end (and highest part) of Manhattan. The lyrics are often in Spanish, often delivered in rap monologue, and largely assume a kind of cultural literacy not common among Maryland dinner theater patrons: knowing, for instance, what it means for someone to say she comes from La Vibora or from Vega Alta (things I had to look up after the fact) or what kind of comestible a mamey might be (ditto), or what it means to yell 'Wepa!' (ditto again). This is probably a good thing; all of us should constantly be looking to broaden our horizons, especially in our theatergoing. At the same time, as much help as possible should be extended to make the proceedings as comprehensible as possible for us Anglo newbies. And sadly, barring a half-page insert of explanation in the program, that kind of help was in scant evidence in Toby's new production.
BWW Reviews: An Actorly SPRING AWAKENING at TowsonBWW Reviews: An Actorly SPRING AWAKENING at Towson
April 28, 2013

This was an undergraduate audience, clearly, and they were rapt and engaged. Yet it was a knowing engagement. By that, I do not mean that the kids came in knowing the tunes and humming along, in fact it was obvious from the laughs and the gasps when funny or shocking things occurred that a large part of the contingent on hand had no idea what was coming. What I mean is, the viewers got it, they understood it on both intellectual and instinctive levels, agreed and approved; the raucous curtain calls demonstrated this, and the audience's identification with what they were seeing.
BWW Reviews: Knocking the Songs Out of the Park: CHESS at Dundalk Community TheatreBWW Reviews: Knocking the Songs Out of the Park: CHESS at Dundalk Community Theatre
April 26, 2013

A first-rate production of a second-rate show. The astonishing cast delivers song after song that sails out of the park.
BWW Reviews: BOEING BOEING: Howard's REP Outdoes Itself with a Delirious FarceBWW Reviews: BOEING BOEING: Howard's REP Outdoes Itself with a Delirious Farce
April 21, 2013

We have not only laughed our heads off, not only witnessed the fulfillment, however temporary, of transgressive bachelor-in-paradise fantasies, but also been treated to something rarer: a visual reimmersion in the colors and sights of the most carefree part of an era: the coordinated uniforms and flight bags, the electric blue paint on the wall, the miniskirts, the smoking-jacket-and-ascot, not to mention the final payoff: a curtain-call that will remind viewers of the way singing groups used to present on television before rock videos and MTV.


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