I sat in front of director Joshua Morgan Wednesday night for the first preview of In Love and Warcraft, the excellent new play he’s directing for the No Rules Theater Company at Signature in Shirlington. He was busy taking notes – and laughing – and I think reveling in his post Fiddler on the Roof life. (He played Motel the Tailor – Wonder of Wonders – in the still-current Arena production that he acknowledged will continue okay without him.) The star of the evening, however, proved to be Anu Yadav, a local actress that Washington audiences need to see more of. (Though unfortunately for us she will be moving to LA soon to expand her excellent repertoire.) She rocked everyone’s world in Meena’s Dream last year at Forum, and now propels this new play about a college woman pushed to escape her closed little gaming world.
This seems like just the right play for a company like No Rules and Morgan, who I also loved leading those Arena Stage piano bars that unfortunately stopped this year. It features a lot of good character actors supporting Yadav’s star turn like Jamie Smithson and Dani Stoller, fun riffs and interesting takes on our new social-first world. The playwright is Mahuri Shekar who we will certainly hear more of. This is the second production following one in Atlanta. Yadav is able to be demure yet confident, funny but serious when need be. I hope people get to see this play in the comfortable Signature setting.
I also saw Choir Boy by MacArthur Genius Tarell Alvin McCraney at Studio Theatre which has become the Washington home for McCraney’s lyrical and highly charged style. It’s an all-male production that features wonderful performances and encompasses music in ways that I have not seen McCraney do in the past. Jelani Alladin cheerfully plays McCraney’s alter ego, a bright, spirited young man at a private prep school who is different from the others. His interactions with his classmates and headmaster define the play, but it is the gospel-like songs that elevate this work for me. The music makes you pay attention.
This is not quite up to the amazing level of The Wolfe Twins and Bad Jews, but it is a stirring production that strives for those heights. Studio continues on a roll.