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  The Book Club Play at Arena Stage

The Book Club Play

Arena Stage
1101 Sixth Street, SW Washington

In The Book Club Play, Ana is a type “A” personality living in a letter-perfect world: a husband who adores her, the perfect job and her greatest passion, Book Club. But when bizarre circumstances put her ideal book club under a magnifying glass, things begin to heat up and more truths are told than anyone bargained for. Zacarías brings Arena Stage the latest chapter of her comedy about life, love, literature and the side-splitting results when friends start reading between the lines.

Thru - Nov 6, 2011

Price: $45-$85

Stage: Kogod Cradle

Running Time: 2 hrs with 1 intermission

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  The Book Club Play Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Washington Post - Somewhat Recommended

"... The actors ably fill the characters’ well-worn dramatic shoes. More concretely, costume designer Linda Cho has an eye for the style of these literary enthusiasts, particularly for self-dramatizing Ana and trendy Lily. As a sign of the social fashion of our times, however, “The Book Club Play” comes across as mere window-dressing."
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Peter Marks

Examiner - Recommended

"... In its clever take on contemporary mores and on modern characters who take themselves too seriously from time to time, "The Book Club Play" is most refreshing in the fact that it's not really about books. It's about people who have a hunger to communicate, whether by sharing books or not."
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Barbara Mackay

WeLoveDC - Recommended

"... There’s no denying that The Book Club Play is funny, sometimes sweetly so, and the battle that ensues between the two camps helps examine stereotypes - and stereotypes sometimes are funny precisely because they are true. But if you’re looking for an in-depth investigation of the power of literature or its relevance in the modern world, just remember – this isn’t War and Peace."
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Jenn Larsen

Talkin Broadway - Highly Recommended

"... Through its American Voices New Play Institute, Washington's Arena Stage provides support to playwrights during three-year residencies. Judging from the sparkling production of the first work to receive a mainstage production through this project —The Book Club Play by Karen Zacarías—the effort is off to a notable start."
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Susan Berlin

City Paper - Recommended

"... Maybe you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can guess a few things about people based on their favorite books. On their way into Arena Stage’s Kogod Cradle to see The Book Club Play, patrons are asked to stop and write the name of a book on a self-adhesive label. Opportunities for amateur sociology abound: Does that woman really love A Clockwork Orange, or does it just match her scarf? Does the hipster with the bowler hat and the Catcher in the Rye sticker secretly read John Sandford? On press night, a few brave souls walked around with “The Bible” on their chests, but Jesus freaks were far less plentiful than Jane Austen’s hapless romantics."
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Karen Zacarías

Washingtonian - Somewhat Recommended

"... With Molly Smith directing and an outstanding cast, this deserves to be a much stronger play. Eastwood Norris is terrific as the gilded, snotty Ana, but her final meltdown feels half-hearted. Arsenault is underused as the thoughtful, charismatic academic, and Holmes, who was beyond powerful in Lynn Nottage’s Ruined earlier this year, never feels convincing in her role as Lily. Zacarias provides fascinating nuggets of insight into the awkward topic of race in her approach to the play’s sole black character, and these underline again how strong a writer she is. But The Book Club Play’s haphazard, scattered feel doesn’t do it justice. It’s too thoughtful to make such ridiculous jokes with conviction, and too comedic to follow through on its potential."
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Sophie Gilbert

BrightestYoungThings - Recommended

"... The story unfolds with constant high-energy hilarity; you will laugh as the epiphanies careen across the stage, including your own. At the end of the play, simultaneously touched by how closely the characters' storylines veer to your own and laughing so hard you're crying, you come to realize this: that with or without a camera's glare, we're all searching for that story that makes us, us."
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Ali Goldstein

Washington Blade - Recommended

"...Yes, the characters are stock — uptight wife, henpecked husband, precious gay guy, etc. — and yes, “The Book Club Play’s” humor can be sitcom caliber. But Arena’s fresh and snappy production with its excellent cast and Molly Smith’s confident staging nicely makes the most of both the play’s more thoughtful and laugh-out-loud moments."
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Patrick Folliard

MD Theatre Guide - Recommended

"... Overall, Zacarías does a nice job in creating a story that is both accessible and interesting to a modern, urban American audience. Her use of pop culture references (Twilight, Harry Potter, Ipads, and Kindles are just a few examples) may make this piece a bit of a museum piece if presented several decades from now, but the general conceit of the play will likely withstand the passage of time. After all, several decades from now people will still read books (though maybe not in paper format), crave and experience social interaction, learn to deal with people who may or may not be like them, and engage in self-discovery. Arena Stage should be commended for giving this play another chance (a previous incarnation was seen at Round House Theatre in 2008) and for exposing the audience to a local playwright who shows great future promise."
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Elliot Lanes and Jennifer Perry

DCTheatreScene - Highly Recommended

Though all the cast members delightfully hold up their end of the ensemble bargain, it is Kate Eastwood Norris who anchors the production. Her neurotic and uptight perfectionist blooms into a heroine worth cheering for. Don’t let her comedic gifts fool you – she’ll tug the heart strings, too.
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Sarah Ameigh

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