Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey, Shannon Dorsey,
Tim Getman, and Joe Mallon

Photo by Teresa Castracane
Kiss, Guillermo Calderón's play receiving its U.S. premiere at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, addresses the ongoing civil war in Syria in a way that shows how people outside the country can't really understand what's going on there. That may sound too clever for its own good, but viewers will be rewarded in ways they won't expect and the less they know going in, the better.

Director Yury Urnov has staged the play in the theater's Smith/Melton Rehearsal Hall, placing the small audience (general admission) on the same floor level and only a few feet away from the simple living room set designed by Misha Kachman. The play appears to be a tangled romantic comedy involving Hadeel (Shannon Dorsey), her boyfriend Ahmed (Tim Getman), and their friends Youssif (Joe Mallon) and Bana (Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey)—but just wait.

The first sense that something more is going on comes from the pulsating, insistent sound design by James Bigsbee Garver, which shifts to atmospheric if overly pushy mood music as the characters gather, and the obvious presence of a hanging microphone above the stage. The dramatic context is that the four friends regularly gather to watch a soap opera on television and Bana is an actress, to add to the sense of self-reference.

The later addition of two other characters (Lelia TahaBurt, Ahmad Kamal) brings in another level of disorientation and confusion and, when the 90-minute performance is over, the audience will have a lot to think about and sort through.

Urnov has guided the four main actors into risk-taking performances that start out rather silly and—especially in the case of Fernandez-Coffey—ultimately delve far deeper than the viewer would expect.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
October 10th – November 6th, 2016
By Guillermo Calderón
Hadeel: Shannon Dorsey
Youssif: Joe Mallon
Ahmed: Tim Getman
Bana: Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey
Woman: Lelia TahaBurt
Interpreter: Ahmad Kamal
Directed by Yury Urnov
641 D St. N.W., Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-393-3939 or

Privacy Policy