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Jack L. B. Gohn

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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Good Times, Fun, and Some Laughs: SWEET CHARITY at Cockpit In Court
July 25, 2022

Dated and flawed as I consider it, Sweet Charity is something of a landmark in the world of the American musical, and this rendition is admirable. And then there are those three big songs. You will definitely experience good times, fun and some laughs.

Review: Stunning, Well-Made HOUSE OF THE NEGRO INSANE at Contemporary American Theater Festival
July 20, 2022

A well-made, stunning play, about racist mental hospital practices in the not very long-distant past, with four strongly-imagined characters and an explosive ending.

Review: A Love Story, a Critique, a Cry of Despair: SHEEPDOG at Contemporary American Theater Festival
July 20, 2022

In the end, it is largely the combination of sensitively-selected detail and poetic diction on the one hand, and the big-picture view of various interlocked social problems that makes the show so extraordinary. In that big picture, the problems are too pervasive, too ingrained to surmount, and well-intentioned people trying to escape those problems will probably fail. In the end, the play suggests, we are much more the product of the forces that shaped us than of our own volition.

Review: BABEL At Contemporary American Theater Festival Probes the Dilemmas That Could Be Presented By Eugenics
July 18, 2022

Babel, which invites us to contemplate a world, apparently in the near future, in which the human genome is so well understood that every person’s – and fetus’s – potential, including the potential for antisocial behavior – is determinable, and if a child cannot be “certified” while in utero as meeting the mandated genetic risk profile, the child will face lifelong legal discrimination thwarting most forms of career accomplishment. Abortion is freely available, and the resulting pressures to terminate pregnancies when a child is not certified are intense, as is the misery of potential parents whose gestating child is deemed uncertifiable, and probably a menace to society. We witness how these dynamics play out with two couples who are friends. Definitely recommended.

Review: A Chaotic THE FIFTH DOMAIN at Contemporary American Theater Festival
July 18, 2022

The play is an ungodly and irremediable mess, but it does demonstrate the importance of the proposition for which the central character was willing to put his career at risk, i.e., that more care needs to be taken, by industry and government alike, of secrets – their own and everyone else’s.

The Ending of Humanity at the Bottom of the World? USHUAIA BLUE at Contemporary American Theater Festival
July 17, 2022

This is more a theater piece than a play, Caridad Svich's choral meditation on the plight of the earth and the humans who inhabit it.

Review: Giving A 'Karen' the Scrooge Treatment: WHITELISTED at Contemporary American Theater Festival
July 17, 2022

This is playwright Chisa Hutchinson's their outing at CATF. I liked both of her previous entries, and she continue to wax both original and amusing, without slighting the serious messages she always delivers.

Review: World War Two MUCH ADO? Who Knew?
June 23, 2022

What did out critic think? The essential attribute of the play, the combative romance of Benedick and Beatrice (Dylan Arredondo and Anna DiGiovanni), is the only truly sacred element of the play. Dylan Arredondo and Anna DiGiovanni, give these principals a full-throated presentation, Arredondo leaning heavily on physical comedy and DiGiovanni on the more cerebral element. In the end, their predicament is that in their merry combat each of them has painted themself into a corner; they need to become lovers but for all their formidable brains neither can do it without the help of friends and a development in the subplot that gives them an excuse to reset their relationship. This problem gives them a delicate palette of emotions to evince: scornful derisiveness, hesitancy, hypocrisy, passion, rueful candor. Arredondo and DiGiovanni serve these changes up charmingly.

BWW Review: Awash in Ideas and Fun: DREAM HOU$E at Baltimore Center Stage
April 29, 2022

Dream Hou$e is awash in ideas, about Latinx identity, about generational wealth transfers, about gentrification, about memory versus history, about personal authenticity, about priorities, about the inherent value of things, about the TV biz, etc., etc., etc. You wouldn’t expect a package of all these things to be tied up neatly in a 90-minute performance, and it’s not. But still, this mishmash is undeniably exciting to experience, and I, along with much of the audience, walked out with a definite buzz on. The kind of buzz you get when you’ve just experienced something exciting and new.

BWW Review: A Great, Problematic Ride: HENRY V at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company
April 25, 2022

To put the biggest problem in contemporary terms, terms which doubtless occurred to many members of the audience besides just me: Is this a play about Zelensky or is it a play about Putin? You can characterize it as the story of a small army’s gallant victory against a much larger and better-equipped force, or you can talk about it as the story of an unprovoked invasion of a sovereign foreign land in service of an improbable abstract notion of the invading country’s imperial rights.

BWW Review: Thoughtful, Satisfying THE PROM at the Hippodrome
January 19, 2022

there's hardly a joke that misfires, hardly a dance step that doesn't thrill, and hardly a song that doesn't connect. It all works together, and the audience will leave utterly sated. Not to miss.

BWW Review: FIRES IN THE MIRROR at Baltimore Center Stage: Really Listening To All Sides After A City Explodes
December 3, 2021

Fires in the Mirror is Anna Deavere Smith's now-classic theatre piece about the Crown Heights, Brooklyn disturbances of 1991, the singular point of which is that it's impossible to know exactly what to think about those events either.

BWW Review: What's Gonna Happen is a Hilarious Time: TOOTSIE at the Hippodrome
December 1, 2021

In the oft-repeated words of the character Sandy, sung in a hilarious patter-fest at strategic points in the musical of Tootsie, playing this week only at the Hippodrome, 'I know what's going to happen.' What's going to happen is that you will attend the show and have an uproarious good time.

BWW Review: Catharsis and Spangles: DREAMGIRLS, ArtsCentric Style
November 29, 2021

Let’s stipulate that book writer and lyricist Tom Eyen and composer Henry Krieger were not Sondheim. What they gave us in Dreamgirls was serviceable, not brilliant, the result of a long development process largely aimed at repairing holes in the melodrama. The result: the company that puts on the show has a heavy lift indeed. But I have to say that ArtsCentric proves to have very strong arms.

BWW Review: STILL AN AWFUL LOT OF FUN: WAITRESS AT THE HIPPODROME
November 7, 2021

Building on Adrienne Shelly’s sometimes grimly hilarious and frequently heartwarming 2007 movie of the same name, and realized for the musical stage by Broadway’s first all-female creative team in 2016, Waitress has been almost continuously on Broadway, apart from a COVID break which ended when the show was the first musical to reopen there. With great songs by Sara Bareilles, a strong script by Jessie Nelson, vivid characters, some surprising dance numbers, lots of sexy behavior, and a strong feminist message, there’s little not to like.

BWW Review: Perhaps a Little Too Short?
October 24, 2021

Mark Scharf is a master of the 10-minute play, except, perhaps, where he tries to use it to explore large themes.

BWW Review: Suicide Isn't Painless, But It Can Be Funny: EVERY BRILLIANT THING at Single Carrot Theatre
September 4, 2021

There can be rational decisions to end one’s own life, but when such decisions are driven by most kinds of depression, which by definition are not rational, no one else, especially no one else touched by it, can make sense of it. And no string of “Whys” will bring us closer to an explanation. But comedy can at least supply insight into the dilemma.

BWW Review: STEEL MAGNOLIAS at Everyman Theatre
August 27, 2021

Audiences need each other as much as the performers need audiences; in the aisles we feed off each other's energy, helping each other get the jokes, experience the pathos, and admire the performances. Steel Magnolias, is an excellent way to make our return, with plenty of jokes, plenty of pathos, and plenty of opportunities for actors to shine. Baltimore's Everyman Theatre's lovely production makes the most of these assets.

BWW Review: Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's THE ADVENTURES OF PERICLES
July 5, 2021

Given all the slapstick in this staging (jousting with pool noodles, silly sound effects, outrageous costumes, sending a coffin to a sea burial down a playground slide, tossing a babe-in-arms around like a fumbled football), the endless choruses of What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor in which the audience is encouraged to participate, the deliberately absurd doubling, it might almost seem at times that children are the target demographic here. But grownups will not be bored.

BWW Review: DERANGED LOVERS IN AN ENIGMATIC WORLD at Compass Rose Theatre
April 24, 2021

So while the course of true love does not run smooth when pursued by these slightly deranged lovers, it does in the end run true. All in all, then, this is a pleasing way for theatergoers to begin emerging from hibernation.



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