Washington Times

THEATER: All 'Eyes' on man's inhumanity

Play depicting Bosnian conflict shows intimacy, brutality in war

Friday, October 31, 2008

"The grotesqueries and moments of grace in the Bosnian War are illumined in Theater J's world-premiere production of Stefanie Zadravec's play "Honey Brown Eyes," directed with taut intensity by Jessica Lefkow and featuring searing performances by a first-rate cast. " CONTINUE READING

Washington Post

'Eyes'-Witness Account Of the Brutality of War

By Peter Marks

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 28, 2008; Page C05

"When the crackle of automatic gunfire erupts outside, the old lady in the dowdy kitchen turns toward the window, warily. Her face registers neither surprise nor terror. That's how numbing this routine has become to her: a violent moment to be waved away in a little heave of disgust. "  CONTINUE READING

Washington City Paper

Honey Brown Eyes

By Trey Graham

DC Theatre Scene

Honey Brown Eyes
written by Stefanie Zadravec
directed by Jessica Lefkow
produced by
Theater J
reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson

"Ethnic cleansing.  Serbian Croatians. Sarajevo.   There was a time, not long ago when these terns and names were as unfamiliar as ancient languages or distant planets.  It wasn’t long before everyday Americans got a crash course in world geography when pictures of families trudging along the countryside filled the airwaves.  The world premiere, Honey Brown Eyes brings that world up close and personal, explosive and disturbingly real." CONTINUE READING

The Examiner

'Honey Brown Eyes' Propelled by Tension

By Barbara Mackay
Special to The Examiner

"Stephanie Zadrevic's "Honey Brown Eyes" at Theater J is a passionate, thought - provoking play about war, whose serious message is intensified by its implied comments on youth, age, courage and the disastrous effects of conflict -- not just on nations but on brothers and friends.  Set in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992m at the start of the Balkan War, "Honey Brown Eyes" traces the stories of two soldiers.  One, a Serb paramilitary named Dragon (Alexander Strain) enters a kitchen in Visegrad pointing a gun at the weaponless woman who lives there.  The other, an unarmed Bosnian resistance fighter named Denis (Joel Reuben Ganz) enters a kitchen in Sarajevo. begging mercy of an older woman.  As the stories spin out slowly, it becomes apparent that three of the characters have known one another in earlier lives, when it was possible to be united by music, affection and shared interests.  In the unfolding play, the web of war entraps the three and pulls them together in the cruelestof ways.  Strain is a powerful actor who smoothly pulls of a total transformation.  He's zany and irresponsible at the beginning of Scene One, but forced to mature instantaneously by its end.  Ganz deftly turns from a cowering animal to a joyful creature as he comes to know the fiesty Jovanka, played with vigor and humor by Barbara Rappaport.  Maia DeSanti is excellent as the brave, controlled housewife in Visegrad.  Eleven year old Taylor Dawson is very effective as her daughter.  Director Jessica Lefkow has maximized the threat and tension levels throughout the play, emphasizing how the madness of war forces the warriors closer together.  James Kronzer's set underscores the fact, as the division between the separate spaces shrinks, two kitchens begin to coalesce and the stories of five embattled souls meld together.  One of the most intriguing elements of this production is Matt Nielson's sound design.  From the energetic Serbo/Croatian rap and the soulful folk music to the sound of an American television laugh track creating a counterpoint to gunshots, "Honey Brown Eyes" offers endless suggestions about the effect of culture." 

Metro Weekly

Rebel Yell

'Honey Brown Eyes' boasts a strong story, but is hindered by awkward pacing and several unsuccessful performances

"There was a time when the best parts of movies happened off-screen. The passionate kiss before the scene faded to black. The brilliant plan hatched as the co-conspirators strode out of frame in a rush of fedora and trench coat. The horrifying murder signaled not with a gory mash of stage blood and makeup effects, but a clap of darkness and a distant scream. Those were the grace notes that made film noir so powerful, so utterly transfixing. "  CONTINUE READING

Washington Post

Witnessing War Through 'Brown Eyes'

Writer Reconstructs Bosnia From Half a World Away

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 19, 2008; Page M01

"When Alexander Strain was asked last winter by Theater J to participate in a cold reading of a brand-new play -- set in war-ravaged Bosnia and written by an under-the-radar playwright named Stefanie Zadravec -- he came, understandably, to the wrong conclusion."...CONTINUE READING 

Washington Post

'Ethics and War'
Backstage, Washington Post
By Jane Horowitz
October 22, 2008

"With both of the area's religion-focused theater companies doing main-stage plays about ethics in wartime, they've decided to collaborate on staged readings to explore the subject further.

Theater J usually focuses on Jewish cultural or spiritual themes, but its latest production, "Honey Brown Eyes," is a stark drama by Stefanie Zadravec, about Muslims and Christians caught up in the Bosnian war of the early 1990s. It begins previews tonight and runs through Nov. 30.

Journeymen Theater Ensemble, which has a subtly Christian perspective, is staging the world premiere of "As American As" by Ken Prestininzi, associate chair/lecturer in playwriting at the Yale School of Drama. The darkly comic take on the "war on terror" going out of control on the home front runs tonight through Nov. 15 at Church Street Theater.

Under the umbrella title "Ethics and War," the readings will take place on consecutive Mondays (Oct. 27, Nov. 3 and Nov. 10) at 7:30 p.m. at Church Street Theater...."

To view entire article click here, scroll half way down


October 31, 2008
Honey Brown Eyes, Theater J's Engrossing Premiere

"There's something strangely comforting and yet oddly disturbing about watching Barbara Rappaport chop an onion.

There's a ritualistic way that the old woman prepares her dinner, humming about the apartment, rustling about her pots and pans. You'd almost think it was a typical day in the life of an ordinary woman. Until you notice how she avoids the window."   CONTINUE READING

Potomac Stages

October 22 - November 30, 2008
Honey Brown Eyes
Reviewed October 26 by Brad Hathaway Running time 2:05 - one intermission
Disturbing drama of Bosnia's time of trouble

"Plays about man's inhumanity to man and the terror that cultural conflict can impose are hard to watch. They should be. The truths they reveal are ugly. When an author tries to explore the depths of cultural hatred, bias and bigotry it is not and should not be a pleasant walk in the park. This world premiere of a play plumbing the problems unleashed with the demise of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s is a case in point."      CONTINUE READING