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Jack L. B. Gohn - Page

Jack L. B. Gohn A retired lawyer, and a critic of many years’ standing, with over a decade reviewing for BroadwayWorld, Jack Gohn is now writing plays as well as reviewing them. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association. See www.jackgohn.com.


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BWW Review: Weirdness Yields Insight in Masterly MEASURE FOR MEASURE at Chesapeake Sh PhotoBWW Review: Weirdness Yields Insight in Masterly MEASURE FOR MEASURE at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company
Posted: Feb. 10, 2020


Cold-Hearted But Great Fun: A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER at Dundalk Communi PhotoCold-Hearted But Great Fun: A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER at Dundalk Community Theatre
Posted: Oct. 26, 2019


New Modes of Representation Forcing Reexamination of Oldtime Heroes: MEN ON BOATS at  PhotoNew Modes of Representation Forcing Reexamination of Oldtime Heroes: MEN ON BOATS at Baltimore Center Stage
Posted: Dec. 9, 2019


BWW Review: A Sure-Footed BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS at Vagabond Players PhotoBWW Review: A Sure-Footed BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS at Vagabond Players
Posted: Jan. 18, 2020


BWW Review: An Amusing and Engaging FABULATION, OR THE RE-EDUCATION OF UNDINE at Stra PhotoBWW Review: An Amusing and Engaging FABULATION, OR THE RE-EDUCATION OF UNDINE at Strand Theater
Posted: Feb. 25, 2020


An Old But Surprisingly Modern Comic Treasure: THE KNIGHT OF THE BURNING PESTLE at Ba PhotoAn Old But Surprisingly Modern Comic Treasure: THE KNIGHT OF THE BURNING PESTLE at Baltimore Shakespeare Factory
Posted: Nov. 3, 2019


BWW Review: Vagabond Players' CONSTELLATIONS Has Its Cake and Eats It Too PhotoBWW Review: Vagabond Players' CONSTELLATIONS Has Its Cake and Eats It Too
Posted: Feb. 29, 2020


BWW Review: Vagabond Players' CONSTELLATIONS Has Its Cake and Eats It Too
February 29, 2020

Playwright Payne's evident intent here was to illustrate the fullest range of things that can happen when Boy Meets Girl. Boy and Girl here are, respectively, a Wiltshire beekeeper named Roland (Christian Smith) and a University of Sussex cosmologist named Marianne (Ryan Gunning). We are plunged right into the multifariousness of possibilities as they first encounter each other at a party. Each version of the encounter starts approximately the same way, with Marianne venturing a pickup line about the impossibility of licking one's elbows. But in the first, he is not available, because he is still sorting himself out after a recently ended relationship. In the second, he is married. In the next universe, other facts are different, but he is again married. Only on the fourth a?oeGroundhog Daya?? variation do the variables permit them to proceed. And then we follow them in similar fashion through differently realized smorgasbords of first dates, him proposing, her cheating, him cheating, them breaking up, them encountering each other in a post-breakup context, etc.

BWW Review: An Amusing and Engaging FABULATION, OR THE RE-EDUCATION OF UNDINE at Strand Theater
February 25, 2020

Turns out Undine doesn't exist in the public records beyond 15 years back because Undine was born Sharona Watkins, and cruelly deserted her folks' lives to reinvent herself with a highfallutin' name and a highfallutin' profession. Now she needs to rebuild the bridges she burned and reclaim Sharona-dom because Undine-ness has collapsed on her.

Police Killings of Young Black Men Viewed Through The Lens of Eternity: KILL MOVE PARADISE at REP Stage
February 23, 2020

While there are four characters in Kill Move Paradise, and they are endowed with names and hints at backstories, their individual identities don't matter much. They are unified more than distinguished, engaged as they are in a common enterprise, chorally addressing the same issues. Specifically, they are all African American men, all (apparently) killed by police gunfire, who are still coming to terms with the ongoing trauma attendant upon being born black and therefore vulnerable to what happened to them in today's America. And, having landed in an afterlife of some kind, they are required now to come to awareness of their present circumstances, and apparently to heal from the inner wounds their earthly lives have inflicted.

BWW Review: Baltimore Shakespeare Factory Manufactures a Muddled, Overwhelmed HENRY V
February 20, 2020

It isn't easy to stage Shakespeare's Henry V (1599). It's a big play), with a large complement of characters. Structurally, it is partly built around a siege and a battle, each of which occurs onstage. There are scenes and pageantry in two royal courts. No wonder, then, the directors tend to cut the lines, scenes, and dramatis personae to what they deem manageable proportions. Given all these challenges, the theatrical company taking on Henry V must be at the top of its game. And this time Baltimore Shakespeare Factory is not. It's an honorable failure, but BSF is simply overwhelmed.

BWW Review: Annapolis Shakespeare Company Has Great Fun with ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S THE 39 STEPS and So Will You
February 20, 2020

Now presented by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company in Patrick Barlow's adaptation (London 2006, Broadway 2010), The 39 Steps is part music hall, part slapstick, part sex comedy, part thriller a?" and requires the skills necessary for each. Add to this that it contains 157 roles written to be performed by only four actors.

BWW Review: Weirdness Yields Insight in Masterly MEASURE FOR MEASURE at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company
February 10, 2020

If we can climb beyond the foothills of the weird norms of the dramatic universe, we can take in how marvelously has Shakespeare anticipated some issues we must confront today. Showing us the Duke's deputy Angelo telling novice nun Isabella that he will save her brother Claudio from the executioner, but as a certain contemporary leader would put it, he a?oeneeds a favor from her, though,a?? or showing us Angelo defending himself from public accusations of sexual harassment by pleading a good reputation we know is maintained only by threats, conspiracy theories, and spurious claims about his accusers, or showing us Angelo getting his way (he thinks) by making promises he has no intention of keeping, Shakespeare conducts us to very familiar territory.

BWW Review: Overstuffed and Disorganized SAFE SPACE at Single Carrot Theatre
February 2, 2020

There is no question that R. Eric Thomas has serious things to say about the state of race in our country. In a Single Carrot press release, he is quoted, for instance, as saying that the play was written now to address a?oethe scourge of white supremacy,a?? and that the play is a?oeabout priorities for the future and a way out.a?? He calls his thoughts a?oecomplicated.a?? And complicated is fine, so long as the audience is given as concrete and coherent a map of the way through that complication as Thomas can fashion. But that work has not been done.

BWW Review: A Frosty but Comic Take on LOVE AND INFORMATION at Fells Point Corner Theatre
January 25, 2020

Churchill's take on love and on information seems a bit chilly. There may be a lot of both love and information out there, she appears to intimate, but it's not usually of very good quality. Much of Churchill's frostiness is, however, presented with a comic touch, emphasized by Dierdre McAllister's direction, by the energetic and youthful ensemble, and by the audience, which seemed to be goading on the performers with constant and frequently loud laughter.

BWW Review: A Sure-Footed BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS at Vagabond Players
January 18, 2020

Neil Simon's indecision about genre in Brighton Beach Memoirs was related to his problem being direct about his parents. A true account would necessarily have revealed their fighting, his father's desertions and infidelities, and the eventual failure of their marriage, and could only have been presented as a tragedy or melodrama. A comedy (and Brighton Beach is formally a comedy) would need to present a sanitized version of what Simon remembered; it would satisfy his audience (which expected comedies) and his parents, but it would also come further from the flavor Simon wanted to present. What we get in consequence is a play in three somewhat inconsistent genres.

New Modes of Representation Forcing Reexamination of Oldtime Heroes: MEN ON BOATS at Baltimore Center Stage
December 9, 2019

The Powell expedition down the Colorado was a voyage of discovery only from the perspective of certain white Protestant men, since Native Americans lived along the route – and white Mormons dwelt close by as well. But only when the river and surrounding lands were surveyed and mapped by certain kinds of white men could they truly be considered part of the American imperium. While the travelers can acknowledge that various people “have run these streams” before them, including “natives” and military deserters, these predecessors were persons whom “no one counts.” That laughably foreshortened perspective does not rob the travelers of bravery, resilience, or grit. It just makes their heroic sacrifices less consequential than they understand.

Forbidden Love and Royalty: Dueling Themes in E2 at REP Stage
November 4, 2019

Clearly, the story of a king who would, legally speaking, seem like the safest person in the land, but who nonetheless is slain, as is his lover, because their relationship is considered taboo, seems facially like a perfect vehicle to provide that treatment. But it simply isn't, or at least not without more work. There are too many complications unique to a royal situation, as this play cannot help showing.

An Old But Surprisingly Modern Comic Treasure: THE KNIGHT OF THE BURNING PESTLE at Baltimore Shakespeare Factory
November 3, 2019

The Knight of the Burning Pestle is rarely produced, and it certainly deserves the occasional outing, if only as a reminder that our forbears were just as interested in trying experiments with theatrical genre and form as we are.

August Wilson Ending on a High Note: RADIO GOLF at Everyman
October 28, 2019

And thus the struggle over ways of thinking and dealing commences. For Hicks, the past that Sterling and Barlow are protecting has no value, and the validity of Barlow's legal claim is irrelevant. From his standpoint, when the powers that be have firmed up their plans to a certain point, mere legality must step aside. For Wilks, abandoning the rule of law leads to chaos, even if following that principle leads to results that disappoint the oligarchs. I'll leave it to audiences to discover how the clash of perspectives works out, but it is clear that, regardless of what becomes of Aunt Ester's home, Wilks' choice to adhere to the rule of law and to honor his roots and ancestors would destroy his great plans, his business partnership, and probably his marriage. Though, of course, regardless of the outcome, such a choice would also make him a hero.

Cold-Hearted But Great Fun: A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER at Dundalk Community Theatre
October 26, 2019

Getting Americans in a frame of mind where they'll despise British aristocrats is like shooting fish in a barrel (unless they're Americans who happen to be still in a daze from a viewing of Downton Abbey). And here the setup provides all the inducement we Yanks need to salivate for Limey blue blood: a highborn family, the D'Ysquiths, disowning a daughter because she eloped with a lowborn foreigner, and (most of them) behaving in impeccably beastly ways towards her son Monty.

Personality Verging on Personhood: PROXY at Rapid Lemon
October 12, 2019

One of the things drama does so well is to make us think and feel about the vectors a society is following. And one of the things happening in our society that drama needs to address is our headlong rush into technology with a personality verging on personhood. Proxy is a thoughtful and perceptive consideration of that rush.

Making Deportation Politics Personal: MISS YOU LIKE HELL at Baltimore Center Stage
September 21, 2019

All politics is personal, as the saying goes. Seldom is this point made with greater dramatic clarity than in Miss You Like Hell. The ending is powerful, but because of the politics. Miss You Like Hell illustrates, in a very personal and detailed way, how deportation policies damage and destroy lives and families, even away from the border. An enjoyable and uplifting evening of theater.

BWW Review: BRIGHT HALF LIFE at Strand Theater Company
September 14, 2019

Bright Half Life is presented in a totally nonsequential fashion, and at nearly breakneck speed much of the time. We are left to piece together the whole story from dozens of fragments that appear and pass quickly, which can be both exhausting and exhilarating. And not just for us in the audience; this calls for enormous flexibility on the part of the performers too. Moments of ecstasy are juxtaposed with moments of terror, joy and sadness arrive cheek-by-jowl, and certain incidents are repeatedly revisited. The two performers must be emotional quick-change artists, and I found myself amazed watching as Ayesis Clay and Katharine Vary worked their way intrepidly through those changes.

BWW Review: From Farcical to Sombre in PERFECT ARRANGEMENT at Fells Point Corner Theatre
September 3, 2019

The title Perfect Arrangement refers to the compact of a male gay couple and a lesbian couple to hide in plain view from the disapproval of the world in 1950 by posing as two straight couples living in adjoining halves of a Georgetown duplex. The two halves are secretly connected through the residences' respective front closets, a passage that enables each real couple to reunite at night, unnoticed by the world outside. Such a setup is custom-made for farce.

BWW Review: CABARET at Olney Theatre Center Keeps Us Gasping
September 3, 2019

Keeping us gasping is what Cabaret in all of its incarnations has always been about. Gasping at the opulence, gasping at the decadence, gasping at the heedlessness and the horror. It is intentionally strong stuff, and if it delivers, then it succeeds. And by that yardstick, this version, whatever it may or may not owe to its predecessors, is a smashing success.

BWW Review: The Guys Are Alright: SUPPORT GROUP FOR MEN at Contemporary American Theater Festival
July 12, 2019

Support Group for Men will send you away happy. There is nothing profound or challenging in this show: just a well-crafted and very funny comedy of manners, specifically the manners of the male of Species Homo Americanus, youthful to mid-life, as observed in a middle-class Chicago habitat.



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