Jack L. B. Gohn

Jack L. B. Gohn


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LAST 30 DAYS

Wrestling with Authentic Inauthenticity: CHAD DEITY at Cohesion TheatreWrestling with Authentic Inauthenticity: CHAD DEITY at Cohesion Theatre
Posted: Jun. 2, 2018


LAST 365 DAYS

BWW Review: Helter-Skelter, Seat-of-the-Pants Hilarity: SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE at Center StageBWW Review: Helter-Skelter, Seat-of-the-Pants Hilarity: SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE at Center Stage
Posted: Oct. 31, 2017


BWW Review: You Should Visit BYHALIA, MISSISSIPPI at CATFBWW Review: You Should Visit BYHALIA, MISSISSIPPI at CATF
Posted: Jul. 12, 2017


BWW Review: Incandescent Youth and WILD HORSES, a Heady Combination at CATFBWW Review: Incandescent Youth and WILD HORSES, a Heady Combination at CATF
Posted: Jul. 10, 2017


BWW Review: A Gripping Struggle for Souls: WE WILL NOT BE SILENT at CATFBWW Review: A Gripping Struggle for Souls: WE WILL NOT BE SILENT at CATF
Posted: Jul. 13, 2017


BWW Review: An Embrace of Dangerous Illusions, Stunningly Portrayed: M. BUTTERFLY at EverymanBWW Review: An Embrace of Dangerous Illusions, Stunningly Portrayed: M. BUTTERFLY at Everyman
Posted: Sep. 11, 2017


With SOUL, Stax Lives Again at Center StageWith SOUL, Stax Lives Again at Center Stage
Posted: May. 12, 2018


BWW Review: When Everything Falls Apart: SKELETON CREW at Center StageBWW Review: When Everything Falls Apart: SKELETON CREW at Center Stage
Posted: Feb. 2, 2018


Wrestling with Authentic Inauthenticity: CHAD DEITY at Cohesion TheatreWrestling with Authentic Inauthenticity: CHAD DEITY at Cohesion Theatre
June 2, 2018

The bad guy is supposed to proclaim how much he despises American values. But when we boo him, what are we booing? The foreign, the unknown, the threatening, the challenge to our self-righteousness. We don our Make America Great Again hats. But in a world where more and more of us, like the villain, are from the Outer Boroughs in one way or another, can the viewpoint hold?

With SOUL, Stax Lives Again at Center StageWith SOUL, Stax Lives Again at Center Stage
May 12, 2018

We want the same songs we (or our parents or grandparents, as the case may be) grew up with, every note of the horn arrangements, and the original singer's voices, imparting each smidgen of intonation and pacing that the original singe added to the song. A historical frame for the musical is perfect for catering to that simple but demanding taste: You want to see Otis Redding singing (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay? Fine, we've reached 1967 in the story, so here he is! And damn, doesn't he sound good?

Uncategorizable, Brilliant, and Profound: Bernstein's CANDIDE at the Washington National OperaUncategorizable, Brilliant, and Profound: Bernstein's CANDIDE at the Washington National Opera
May 6, 2018

When you hear the first few notes of the rollicking overture, you know Bernstein is genuflecting hard to Johann Strauss. Yet this is a story in which the principal characters are bayoneted, hanged, maimed, raped, prostituted, ravaged by disease, and enslaved, among other things, a story which, thematically, takes the characters and us right to the edge of the Nietzschean abyss and gives us a good long sobering look into it - not the sort of thing Strauss or Gilbert and Sullivan ever did.

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS Leaves a Trail of Stardust at The HippodromeAN AMERICAN IN PARIS Leaves a Trail of Stardust at The Hippodrome
May 2, 2018

What a trail of stardust the whole musical leaves! There are the sets and lighting which dazzle in their nimble evocation of the wonders of Paris, with a side-step into a fantasy nightclub that seems to be Radio City Music Hall, complete with spangled leggy chorines and dudes in top hats and tails. There is the dancing of the athletic McGee Maddox and the graceful Allison Walsh. (How many performers out there can claim true balletic chops, skill at acting and singing - and the aforementioned hotness?) And the word 'dazzling' seems to have been coined for Gershwin's music, generously ladled over the entire enterprise, and beautifully performed.

BWW Review: Same As The Old Boss: Center Stage's Grim, Industrial ANIMAL FARMBWW Review: Same As The Old Boss: Center Stage's Grim, Industrial ANIMAL FARM
March 12, 2018

The true selling point of this production is not so much a reimmersion in Orwell's masterpiece as a reminder, if we needed reminding, of the collective nausea that overtakes us in one of those periodic moments when totalitarian assaults on truth, justice and human dignity are winning.

BWW Review: Handing it to the Devil: Stillpointe Presents HAND TO GODBWW Review: Handing it to the Devil: Stillpointe Presents HAND TO GOD
March 3, 2018

This attack on sanctimonious pretensions is put across by a spirited ensemble, game with lascivious behavior, violence, f-bombs and sock-puppets, and blessed with considerable talent, including the manual dexterity to bring socks to life.

BWW Review: A Lackluster Script Spoils THE GRADUATE at Dundalk Community TheatreBWW Review: A Lackluster Script Spoils THE GRADUATE at Dundalk Community Theatre
February 26, 2018

Ben's character may be a phony pastiche, and Elaine's a confusing cypher, but in Elaine's mother Mrs. Robinson, novelist Charles Webb struck gold. Bored, lecherous, alcoholic, deeply dishonest, vengeful, and possessed of a twisted motherly loyalty, she is real and vital and scary as hell. Dyana Neal's Mrs. Robinson is pretty much perfect. She has the intimidating stare, the commanding manner, the resolute lack of curiosity about any aspect of the world aside from sex, tobacco, and alcohol, the maternal protectiveness, all down pat. If Anne Bancroft is looking down from heaven, she probably approves.

BWW Review: A Community's Accomplishment and the Homosexual Gaze: ALL SHE MUST POSSESS at REP StageBWW Review: A Community's Accomplishment and the Homosexual Gaze: ALL SHE MUST POSSESS at REP Stage
February 10, 2018

All She Must Possess does not suggest that the Cone Collection was Etta's work alone, but rather depicts it as the emanation of the entire community, including not only Etta, but her sister Claribel, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude's brother Leo, Alice Toklas, and the artists, for whom Matisse stands in as representative. It was out of that community's joy in creation and discussions of it (Expressionism vs. Cubism, for instance) that the Collection, a thing of transcendent value, is shown as having emerged.

BWW Review: No Escape from the Hall of Mirrors in THE DEATH OF WALT DISNEY at Single Carrot TheatreBWW Review: No Escape from the Hall of Mirrors in THE DEATH OF WALT DISNEY at Single Carrot Theatre
February 5, 2018

Disney's motto is 'Unless you're one of the most important people who ever lived, what's the point?' But there remains no point if you have no consciousness left to enjoy your importance. Hence the sight near the end of doomed Walt struggling to slow down and stretch out indefinitely the experience of his own final moments.

BWW Review: When Everything Falls Apart: SKELETON CREW at Center StageBWW Review: When Everything Falls Apart: SKELETON CREW at Center Stage
February 2, 2018

The human spirit, Morisseau seems to be suggesting, is hard to crush, regardless of the direction in which the great tides of industrial affairs may flow.

BWW Review: Helter-Skelter, Seat-of-the-Pants Hilarity: SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE at Center StageBWW Review: Helter-Skelter, Seat-of-the-Pants Hilarity: SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE at Center Stage
October 31, 2017

Most of all, perhaps, is the sense of the theater as a helter-skelter, seat-of-the-pants, totally precarious enterprise, in which people start out to cast or produce a show with no idea how it's going to be completed, without necessarily even a script, and in which the way to make the final product viable, let alone successful, is, as the script keeps saying, a mystery.

BWW Review:Everyman Hosts INTIMATE APPAREL's Triumphant Return to BaltimoreBWW Review:Everyman Hosts INTIMATE APPAREL's Triumphant Return to Baltimore
October 29, 2017

There seems to be a constant in Lynn Nottage's plays: the reality that people of color and women do not get many breaks or many chances for happiness or fulfillment. Whatever they do achieve along these lines is both hard-won and partial. In fact, that constant reality of limits on the available economic opportunity and on the available happiness is precisely the theme of Intimate Apparel. Heroine Esther (Dawn Ursula), being both black and female, looks for fulfillment in love, in friendship, and in work (as a seamstress and lingerie maker), and it seems at the end that she has obtained about all of any of these that is on offer.

BWW Review: A Beautifully-Acted Tragedy Of Ideas: SALLY McCOY at Cohesion TheatreBWW Review: A Beautifully-Acted Tragedy Of Ideas: SALLY McCOY at Cohesion Theatre
September 15, 2017

Sally, as realized by Katherine Vary, is amazing to watch, as she constantly calculates what tactic, rhetorical, pugilistic, or personal, to employ next. When her bag of tricks appears empty to us, and apparently empty to her for a moment, she keeps coming up with one more and you can see her own delight and relief at her creativity as she yet again digs up something else.

BWW Review: An Embrace of Dangerous Illusions, Stunningly Portrayed: M. BUTTERFLY at EverymanBWW Review: An Embrace of Dangerous Illusions, Stunningly Portrayed: M. BUTTERFLY at Everyman
September 11, 2017

Bruce Randolph Nelson's portrayal of Monsieur Gallimard is authoritative: all the glibness of a would-be mandarin who cannot quite pull it off, a lyrical self-awareness that does not quite go far enough, and a touch of madness. Every line rang true.

BWW Review: A Generation and a Movement Considered in THE HEIDI CHRONICLES at The REPBWW Review: A Generation and a Movement Considered in THE HEIDI CHRONICLES at The REP
September 11, 2017

The play has aged well. Women are, of course, still grappling with some of the issues that Heidi confronts. But it is not the specific issues that make the play last and lead me to predict that there will be revivals a century hence. One thing is for sure: the pop culture time-stamps like specific songs redolent of particular years will surely almost certainly elude our grandchildren. But the interplay between bright, somewhat idealistic people and their times is bound to continue, and stories about that interplay are bound to go on holding the attention.

BWW Review: Confronting the Paradoxes of Faith in EVERYTHING IS WONDERFUL at CATFBWW Review: Confronting the Paradoxes of Faith in EVERYTHING IS WONDERFUL at CATF
July 16, 2017

I do not read Marcantel as indicting religion as such; she shows us how much groundedness and understanding faith gives. Every faith needs, and has, its own 'Ordnung,' but in order to live fully and well, Marcantel seems to be saying, believers will always need to transcend it. And then, as the play hints, believers will also need to return to it. Every faith journey will thus be a work in progress, forever.

BWW Review: The Bronx is Up  and Dancing to Hip Hop  in CATF's WELCOME TO FEAR CITY
July 15, 2017

Welcome to Fear City, premiering at the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, WV, shambles along amiably, looking as if it has no more greater object than to be a loose black family dramedy set forty years ago. That is, until it dawns on you that the play's ambition is to be nothing less than a snapshot of a time and place where a lot of things happened, and one vitally important thing, hip hop, came into being.

BWW Review: A Gripping Struggle for Souls: WE WILL NOT BE SILENT at CATFBWW Review: A Gripping Struggle for Souls: WE WILL NOT BE SILENT at CATF
July 13, 2017

If by betraying her principles Scholl could prolong her life, as opposed to adhering to her principles, dying, and having no impact at all, which choice should she make? And this is not just her existential question: It is her interrogator Grunwald's as well. It would appear that Grunwald has made the opposite choice. But has he? At the very end of the play, that question is reopened.

BWW Review: You Should Visit BYHALIA, MISSISSIPPI at CATFBWW Review: You Should Visit BYHALIA, MISSISSIPPI at CATF
July 12, 2017

The virtue of Byhalia, Mississippi lies precisely in its modesty. It prescribes no rules, apart from loving one another and telling the truth, for getting through a marital and race-inflected social crisis in a small town; it simply shows how one not-overwhelmingly admirable couple does it. And at that, the true secret here may just be the jokes. Those, and the blackout line at the very end of the play, which just may bring a lump to the throat.

BWW Review: A Clash of Perfectly Opposed Titans in THE NICETIES at CATFBWW Review: A Clash of Perfectly Opposed Titans in THE NICETIES at CATF
July 11, 2017

A two-fisted drama of ideas, The Niceties may well leave you devastated, and will certainly send you out talking. Itwill keep you thinking and probably angry, regardless of where you come down on the issues very articulately debated in it.



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