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: DEAD AND BREATHING at CATFBWW Reviews: DEAD AND BREATHING at CATF
Posted: Jul. 14, 2014


BWW Reviews: Is There an I in Robot? - UNCANNY VALLEY at CATFBWW Reviews: Is There an I in Robot? - UNCANNY VALLEY at CATF
Posted: Jul. 15, 2014


BWW Reviews: An Overstuffed ONE NIGHT at CATFBWW Reviews: An Overstuffed ONE NIGHT at CATF
Posted: Jul. 14, 2014


BWW Reviews: Insincere White Invitations, New Black Authenticity: THE ASHES UNDER GAIT CITY Premieres at CATFBWW Reviews: Insincere White Invitations, New Black Authenticity: ASHES UNDER GAIT CITY
Posted: Jul. 20, 2014


BWW Reviews: PIRATES OF PENZANCE at Toby's is Silly and SublimeBWW Reviews: PIRATES OF PENZANCE at Toby's is Silly and Sublime
Posted: Jul. 21, 2014


BWW Reviews: Facing Moral Dilemmas in a Crumbling Garage - NORTH OF THE BOULEVARD at CATFBWW Reviews: NORTH OF THE BOULEVARD at CATF
Posted: Jul. 21, 2014


LAST 365 DAYS

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
Posted: Nov. 15, 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: 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: CSC's AS YOU LIKE IT - You'll Like It Like ThatBWW Reviews: CSC's AS YOU LIKE IT - You'll Like It Like That
Posted: Jun. 21, 2014


BWW Reviews: Caustic, Hilarious BOOK OF MORMON at HippodromeBWW Reviews: Caustic, Hilarious BOOK OF MORMON at Hippodrome
Posted: Feb. 28, 2014


BWW Reviews: A Lot Like Christmas: MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET at Toby's ColumbiaBWW Reviews: A Lot Like Christmas: MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET at Toby's Columbia
Posted: Nov. 24, 2013


BWW Reviews: Facing Moral Dilemmas in a Crumbling Garage - NORTH OF THE BOULEVARD at CATFBWW Reviews: Facing Moral Dilemmas in a Crumbling Garage - NORTH OF THE BOULEVARD at CATF
July 21, 2014

Trip needs to get himself and his family 'up north of the Boulevard' to a more civilized neighborhood. Then an unexpected circumstance dumps an opportunity in Trip's lap. The only problem is that, to take it, Trip would need to leave his integrity behind and possibly risk going to jail. Is getting north of the Boulevard worth it for Trip and his buddies? Does Trip even have a meaningful choice?
BWW Reviews: PIRATES OF PENZANCE at Toby's is Silly and SublimeBWW Reviews: PIRATES OF PENZANCE at Toby's is Silly and Sublime
July 21, 2014

The heart of the operetta's appeal is the sublime silliness of its premise: pirates from the era of sail plundering Victorian steamships. It just never gets stale. And binding it all together is Sullivan's music. utside the sphere of grand opera, Sullivan has no equals on the stage except possibly Gershwin and Bernstein.
BWW Reviews: Insincere White Invitations, New Black Authenticity: THE ASHES UNDER GAIT CITY Premieres at CATFBWW Reviews: Insincere White Invitations, New Black Authenticity: THE ASHES UNDER GAIT CITY Premieres at CATF
July 20, 2014

This play, about a small group of black visionaries attempting to establish visibility in a white Oregon town which has excluded and disregarded them, is provocative but hard to follow.
BWW Reviews: Is There an I in Robot? - UNCANNY VALLEY at CATFBWW Reviews: Is There an I in Robot? - UNCANNY VALLEY at CATF
July 15, 2014

Alex Podulke progresses by tiny gradations over the course of an hour and a half from impersonating a machine in speech and movement to a near-human in those regards, and one finds oneself saying, Of course that's how a machine trying to imitate a human would look, even though one has never seen it before.
BWW Reviews: An Overstuffed ONE NIGHT at CATFBWW Reviews: An Overstuffed ONE NIGHT at CATF
July 14, 2014

There are the bones here of a perfectly respectable play about rape and what comes after in the U.S. military and veterans' system. They are often overwhelmed by formulaic exposition and too much going on. The play needs to be broken down and retooled.
BWW Reviews: DEAD AND BREATHING at CATFBWW Reviews: DEAD AND BREATHING at CATF
July 14, 2014

The duel of these two characters is so absorbing and funny that I have to rate her black (in all senses) comedy as the strongest in this year's Contemporary American Theatre Festival. This is not just a duel of characters, but of actors. Lizan Mitchell, a face most viewers are probably familiar with from quality television like The Wire, is powerful and dignified, even with no clothes on - and delivers sharp-tongued zingers with scornful abandon. And N.L. Graham, a sassier sister of Laverne Cox of Orange Is The New Black (another great exponent of the art of making femininity issue from an originally male frame), mines every delicious wisecrack for all it might possibly be worth.
BWW Reviews: CSC's AS YOU LIKE IT - You'll Like It Like ThatBWW Reviews: CSC's AS YOU LIKE IT - You'll Like It Like That
June 21, 2014

It's often been observed of Shakespeare that his plays don't tell you what he thinks about most subjects. But it is hard to doubt that he believed in romantic love, that mad, intoxicating, all-encompassing feeling that inspires courtship and marriage. Many of his comedies are essentially love delivery vehicles, giddy confections that give the audience an extraordinarily broad license just to roll in the bliss of it. I think especially of Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. But the most love-mad of all is surely As You Like It. And thankfully, that love-mad champagne feeling is served up nearly full-force in the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's latest rendering of the play.
BWW Reviews: WILD WITH HAPPY Will Make You, Well, Wild With HappyBWW Reviews: WILD WITH HAPPY Will Make You, Well, Wild With Happy
June 8, 2014

Eventually Gil wins the struggle for the right to define his mother's obsequies. He is handed the urn with her ashes. He has sole custody. But then what? While Gil doesn't have the answer, Mo does. It involves a car chase down I-95 and the Cinderella Castle Suite at Disneyland, and a vision of Adelaide dancing in a magical white dress, and fireworks.
BWW Reviews: Better Living Through Electricity: A Stimulating VIBRATOR PLAY at the METBWW Reviews: Better Living Through Electricity: A Stimulating VIBRATOR PLAY at the MET
June 2, 2014

It is about sex, but mostly because that is where love starts. The effect is orgasm, of course, but it is also the breaking down of walls. As the barriers finally fall, the mood turns lyrical, and the action ends with a kind of latter-day echo of the wedding dance that would often finish a Shakespeare comedy.
BWW Reviews: First Crack at a New Comic Classic: VANYA AND SONIA at Center StageBWW Reviews: First Crack at a New Comic Classic: VANYA AND SONIA at Center Stage
April 26, 2014

It is gratifying that Christopher Durang's latest comedy, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which is assuredly going to be produced in time by every community theater company in the country, gets its Baltimore premiere in style at Center Stage, as a sort of reference production by which other local ones can be gauged. The show, which rolled out over the last two years in regional test runs, then at the Lincoln Center, and then on Broadway, where it closed last year, is in joint production here with the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. The fun seems effortless; with a solid cast and wonderful direction by Eric Rosen at Center Stage, of course nothing is going to go wrong. But I'm willing to bet it would take a lot of trying to do this well-made play badly; I expect we'll find out.
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.


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