Performing Arts: Woolly Goes Berlin

by Editorial
Kate Eastwood Norris, Naomi Jacobson, Sarah Marshall, Jessica Frances Dukes. Photo by Stan Barouh.

Kate Eastwood Norris, Naomi Jacobson, Sarah Marshall, Jessica Frances Dukes. Photo by Stan Barouh.

Full Circle is unquestionably our centerpiece,” said Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz. “A big, fun, meaty play that gives us a chance to re-unite much of our acting company with a favorite playwright, explore our beautiful space in new ways, honor the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and engage with our community in a timely conversation about economic justice and the role of the arts in an era of great transformation.”

Blending new media, audience integration, and traditional ways of storytelling, Full Circle is set amid the disorder and confusion of the days immediately following the fall of the Berlin Wall. The euphoria of revolution soon gives way to the confusing reality of life without a government, without infrastructure, without a clear sense of right or wrong. As two women attempt to rescue an abandoned baby, they lead the audience on a journey, examining capitalism and communism, moral obligations, and the purpose of art in society. And they do this without being self-conscious or heavy handed, and, with one or two exceptions, without preaching at the audience.

Full Circle boasts a talented cast comprised of: Howard Shalwitz, Jessica Frances Dukes, Daniel Escobar, Naomi Jacobson, Sarah Marshall, Kate Eastwood Norris, Michael Russotto, Michael Willis, and Wyckham Avery.

Naomi Jacobson embodied the exuberant and carefree American socialite Pamela, and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. While she is the play’s high note, Jessica Frances Dukes, who plays Dulle Griet, provides the heart. She is a performer I hope to see again and again. And Sarah Marshall must be acknowledged for her extraordinary portrayal of Erich Honecker, the Cook, and Helmut. Brava!

After 30 seasons Woolly Mammoth is comfortable with its role, but refuses to settle into a routine. “I think most people would think of us as the most provocative theater in Washington in terms of the kinds of subject matter on our stages, in terms of the language, and a lack of sort of censorship and a willingness to do anything on stage if we think that the writing is really, really good,” Shalwitz said. “I’m a restless artistic director. Wherever we’ve been at any given point, I’ve always wanted to get better and better and better.”

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