A Review of Copenhagen

copenhagen1by Phil Beck

Iowa CityCopenhagen, Dreamwell Theatre’s production of Michael Frayn’s Tony Award winning play, opened May 12 with a single question: “Why did Heisenberg come to Copenhagen?” The various possible answers, and their ramifications, form the basis of this erudite, Rashomon-like investigation into the past. In 1941 the German physicist Werner Heisenberg (Gavin Conkling) traveled to Occupied Denmark to visit his old mentor, Niels Bohr (Matthew Brewbaker) and his wife, Margarethe (Jessica Wilson). The purpose and substance of his visit has been debated ever since by both historians and by the principles themselves, who in the years following offered different accounts of what they talked about. Whatever it was, it had import for the whole world—the two Nobel Prize-winning physicists each worked on the development of the atomic bomb, Heisenberg (unsuccessfully) for Nazi Germany and Bohr for the U.S. team that created the bombs dropped on Japan in 1945. Continue reading

A Review of Down the Road

downroadby Phil Beck

Down the Road, Lee Blessing’s drama about the relationship between a serial killer and two journalists writing a book about him, opened at Public Space One last Friday, March 23. Blessing is a prize-winning playwright and a graduate of Iowa’s Playwriting Workshop, both reasons to take interest in his work, but despite a potentially explosive subject, Down the Road delivers surprisingly little drama. Dreamwell’s sincere effort to make this production compelling is ultimately defeated by a lackluster script. Continue reading

A Review of Antigone

antigone5by Phil Beck

Iowa City – For its third production of the 2016-2017 season, Dreamwell Theatre premiered Antigone by Mac Wellman last Thursday night at Public Space One. It’s an experimental theater piece that rewrites Sophocles’ Antigone, the ancient tragedy of a young Greek woman who defies authorities by burying her brother despite his having been declared an enemy of the state. The events that follow her act of disobedience form the basis of one of literature’s greatest dramas and the jumping-off point of Wellman’s 2001 play, an ambitious deconstruction of the conventions of theater and the theatrical experience. Continue reading

A Review of Dead Man’s Cell Phone

deadmancell2by Phil Beck

Iowa City – A cell phone ringing repeatedly in a small café signals the beginning of Dead Man’s Cell Phone, the Dreamwell Theatre production that opened Friday Dec.9 at Public Space One. A wily black comedy by Sarah Ruhl, Cell Phone recounts what happens when a lonely and naïve young woman named Jean (Melissa Kaska) answers the ringing phone and is irresistibly drawn into the life of its owner. Since the play’s premise is contained in its title, it’s not giving too much away to reveal that the owner, a mysterious businessman named Gordon (Sage Spiker), can’t answer his phone because he’s dead. Sarah answers for him and finds her calling, so to speak. Continue reading

A Review of The Nether


by Phil Beck

The title of The Nether refers to the virtual reality realm that the internet will evolve into at some unspecified future time in Jennifer Haley’s provocative play, which opened Dreamwell Theatre’s season on Friday Sept.16 at Public Space One. The audience is prepared immediately for something out of the ordinary by the unconventional set, which is arranged on two levels. In front of the stage, at eye level with the seats, sits a table with a chair on either end. On the stage behind is a charming Victorian interior with carved furniture and a garden setting with iron chair and lush plant life. The action of the play will alternate between these upper and lower levels, moving back and forth in time and between reality and fantasy. Continue reading

RHCR and Dreamwell Bring Cock to CR


Cedar Rapids – Dreamwell Theatre’s acclaimed production (read the review here) of Mike Barlett’s Cock will be presented at the Artisan’s Sanctuary in Cedar Rapids June 10 and 11. After a successful run at Public Space One in Iowa City, RHCR reached out to Dreamwell with the idea of continuing the run in Cedar Rapids. Continue reading

A Review of Cock

dreamwellckby Phil Beck

Iowa City – Does our current understanding of human sexuality’s complexity render sexual orientation a meaningless abstraction? Are “gay” and “straight” outmoded terms? These provocative thoughts lie at the heart of Cock, by British playwright Mike Bartlett, which opened Friday at Public Space One. It’s the final production in Dreamwell Theatre’s season, “Interrogation: Uncovering the Buried Self,” and the group couldn’t have picked a better play to represent that theme. Or mounted a stronger production. Cock is their best show of the past year. Continue reading