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  Ah, Wilderness! at Arena Stage

Ah, Wilderness!

Arena Stage
1101 Sixth Street, SW Washington

Return to an idyllic age of Americana in Eugene O’Neill’s unabashedly romantic and sweetly funny Ah, Wilderness! As the Connecticut-based Miller clan plans their traditional Fourth of July festivities, their dreamy-eyed middle child Richard is wrestling with cultural conventions, political uncertainty, the power of literature, and the exquisite pain of love. The memories of family life were never so delicately portrayed as in O’Neill’s only comedy, his coming-of-age love letter to a simpler time, that finds the master playwright “at his most wistful and serene.” (New York Times).

Thru - Apr 8, 2012

Stage: Fichandler Stage

Running Time: 2 hours 40 mins with 1 intermission

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  Ah, Wilderness! Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Washington Post - Somewhat Recommended

"... It’s hard, therefore, to argue with any of the kindnesses outlined in Arena Stage’s first-class production, expertly cast and assembled on the Fichandler Stage by director Kyle Donnelly. It’s also hard to get overly excited about them."
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Peter Marks

Washington Examiner - Highly Recommended

"...O'Neill subtitled "Ah, Wilderness!" a "nostalgic comedy" and intended to celebrate the absurdities and values of the turn of the century. Arena has honored O'Neill's wishes, producing a sensitive tribute to young and middle-aged love and to a beautiful, bygone era."
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Barbara Mackay

WeLoveDC - Recommended

"... Ah, Wilderness! is cute, heartwarming, and a welcome departure from O’Neill’s other works. The three act production is a tad lengthy but with a third act that will have you laughing non-stop it is only a small flaw. Where other coming of age features such as Superbad or American Pie have become staples of our culture, Wilderness is a refreshing drink of water away from the rude and crude."
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Patrick Pho

Talkin Broadway - Highly Recommended

"... Foucheux and Robinette have both received numerous Helen Hayes Awards, and here they work together like a ballroom dance team. Kimberly Schraf gives a performance at their level as Nat's flinty sister Lily, but Jonathan Lincoln Fried's performance as hard-drinking Sid Davis is overly delicate where it should have some heft. Riley succeeds in depicting the insecurities, exposed nerve endings, and in-over-his-head bravado of a teenage boy—which is harder to do than one might think without becoming either precious or annoying."
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Susan Berlin

City Paper - Recommended

"... Donnelly’s handsome, emotionally generous staging, decorously dressed by Nan Cibula-Jenkins, with starlight and a rising moon supplied by Russell Champa, evokes memories not just of America’s golden era, but also of Arena’s, when richly upholstered Broadway classics offered a counterpoint to the more astringent works of Strindberg and Ibsen. The company is definitely playing to its strengths here."
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Bob Mondello

Washingtonian - Highly Recommended

"...This riveting, cheery, emotive production is a real testament of what Arena can do at its best, which is make you laugh while breaking your heart a little. It’s certainly set a high bar for the rest of the O’Neill Festival to follow."
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Sophie Gilbert

BrightestYoungThings - Recommended

"... As each family member knits up their low-intensity dilemmas, Ah, Wilderness! finishes up sweetly resolving its coming-of-age motifs. Though O'Neill has better productions running at Arena Stage in the next two months, Ah, Wilderness! may be worth seeing simply by virtue of the fact that it's one of his lesser known plays."
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Logan Donaldson

ShowBizRadio - Recommended

"... O’Neill’s script nicely contrasts the kinds of love between members of the three central couples: the new, exciting, unstable love of Richard and Muriel; the thwarted but still unshakable connection between Sid and Lily; and the warm, autumnal partnership of Nat and his wife, Essie (Nancy Robinette). The play sets the stories of these three couples against the backdrop of what seems, from the perspective of a hundred years later,the quite horrifying virgin/whore dichotomy through which women were viewed, even by so essentially humanistic a character as Nat. The overall tone is nonetheless one of great sweetness, a vision, dramaturg Aaron Malkin points out, of the happy and secure childhood O’Neill never had."
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Bob Ashby

Edge - Somewhat Recommended

"...At close to three hours, Director Kyle Donnelly can’t seem to find an easy balance between both of these story lines without starting to slow the pace of the humor in the middle, and the story proceeds to drag in parts, feeling far weightier than the light summer vacation tone it attempts to strike."
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Rachel Breitman

MD Theatre Guide - Highly Recommended

"... Arena Stage has done a wonderful job with Ah, Wilderness. With its dream cast and great physical production, I urge you to go and take yourself back to a time before all of the modern day distractions we have now."
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Elliot Lanes

DCTheatreScene - Recommended

Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness! plays a welcome trick on you. While enjoying a lighthearted situational comedy of stock family shenanigans, set in a time and place out of extant memory and bathed in wistful nostalgia—you’re delivered to a threshold, an ingress into the profound inner works of weighty things: the soul of America, the stages of life and patterns of family, and that painfully poignant human yearning to experience the passage of time over and over again, to dream it anew, to make it right.
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Roy Maurer

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