Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Baker’s latest drama ‘John’ weaves life’s challenging realities with a heap of mysticism (at ArtsWest now through April 7)

Review by Jeanne Kinley Deller:

Early arrival at the ArtsWest theatre provides audiences an opportunity to reminisce in the museum-like staging, filled with an excess of “tchotchkes.” Eccentricity abounds throughout “John,” in tandem with the set which is overrun with dolls, stuffed animals, knick-knacks, and out of season Christmas decorations.

Welcome to the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a bed and breakfast where Paris and Eiffel Towers are prized table decor. When the young couple, Jenny Chung (Mi Kang) and Elias Schreiber-Hoffman (Sean Lally), enter into the picture as weekend guests, they experience their surroundings taking on a life of their own, sometimes bigger than the conflicted couple’s relationship.

In conjunction with Jenny and Elias’ obscure courtship, the bed and breakfast proprietor Mertis Katherine Graven (the gifted Marianne Owen) keeps her guests wondering about her lack of connection with reality. Mertis’ long-time friend Genevieve Marduk (Suzy Hunt, brilliant in her portrayal, as always) eventually arrives on the scene like a breath of fresh air in her surprisingly forthright manner and honesty. The blind Genevieve’s announcement that she “went crazy,” and that her husband John “took possession” of her soul is, at least, a desire to speak her truth in the midst of overwhelming deception and chaos.

You’ll want to catch “John” at ArtsWest to demystify the title, interesting in the fact that no one named John ever surfaces in this three-hour, two-intermission play. Now on stage, “John” plays now through April 7, 2019 at West Seattle’s delightfully intimate theatre. Tickets here.

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ArtsWest presents JOHN

Photo by John McLellan

Time Magazine – 10 Best Shows of 2015

Nominated for 6 Drama Desk Awards

Nominated for 5 Lucille Lortel Awards

“Annie Baker’s John is so good on so many levels that it casts a unique and brilliant light.” – The New Yorker

“Baker does not merely tell a scary story. She shows them, piling up like ghosts of amputated limbs from the war wounded, and makes them riveting, unpredictable, altogether human theater.” – Newsday

 

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