“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is a masterwork for both its author and its director

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Michael Brosilow. There is simply no better director alive for interpreting the works of August Wilson than Ron OJ Parson, who has opened his 26th such interpretation with Writers Theatre’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the 1920s edition of the playwright’s American Century Cycle. Parson […]

Raven’s “How I Learned to Drive” captures the complexity of pedophilia

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Michael Brosilow. The word “pedophilia” is used once, and only once, in Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning How I Learned to Drive, now playing at the Raven Theatre, but the topic of pedophilia pervades this play that is somehow terribly creepy, powerfully poignant, and hilariously […]

“Gentleman’s Guide” warms the Porchlight Theatre with dark, silly fun

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Michael Courier. Take the revenge fantasy of Sweeney Todd and blend it with the silliness and absurd comedy of The Mystery of Edward Drood and you might have something like A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, the wonderfully engaging and entertaining musical now […]

“How to Catch Creation” is a witty, engaging look at creation in all forms

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Liz Lauren. “Creation is hard work.” That thought is at the core of How to Catch Creation by Christina Anderson. Whether one is creating a book, a painting, a relationship, or a family, creation takes time, patience, and focus…or perhaps it takes marvelous serendipity. […]

“Photograph 51” explores the race to understand DNA

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Michael Brosilow. Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler, now playing at the Court Theatre, has a difficult task: rendering complex scientific research as tragedy. The play concerns the pioneering work of Dr. Rosalind Franklin, whose King’s College x-ray photographs of DNA (particularly one labeled Photo […]