Dobama presents Midwest premiere of 'John'

Dobama Theatre continues its 2018–19 Mainstage Season with "John," an intimate and elusive ghost story, running Oct. 19 through Nov. 11.

Written by Annie Baker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of "The Flick," the play centers on Elias and Jenny, a young couple struggling to stay together, who stop at a bed-and-breakfast in Gettysburg, Pa. During their visit they encounter a cheerful innkeeper, her blind friend, and an eerie world crammed with toys, figurines and one very odd American Girl doll. This mystic puzzle of a play is full of surprises, both human and supernatural.

Dobama’s production features legendary Cleveland actor Dorothy Silver, in her first collaboration with Dobama Artistic Director Nathan Motta in the director’s chair. The cast also features Luke Wehner, noted for his performances as Peter in "Peter and the Starcatcher," and as both Jason and his possessed puppet, Tyrone, in the devilish comedic hit "Hand to God;" Catherine Albers, a well-respected actor and master acting teacher; and Kat Shy, last seen on Dobama’s stage in the hit Pulitzer Prize-finalist "4000 Miles."

"John" debuted at the Signature Theatre in New York in 2015, in a production directed by Sam Gold. It was ranked in the Top Ten Plays and Musicals of 2015 by Time, and #8 in The Hollywood Reporter’s “Best New York Theater of 2015.” It was nominated for the Lucille Lortel Award, the Drama Desk Awards, and the Obie Awards.

The New York Times stated of the production, “Annie Baker’s 'John' is so good on so many levels that it casts a unique and brilliant light . . . [It’s a] haunting and haunted meditation on topics she has made so singularly her own: the omnipresence of loneliness in human life, and the troubled search for love and lasting connection.”

In "John," Baker acknowledges struggles that are “very specific to one’s 20s and early 30s” and how those struggles appear to others who are far past that point in their own lives. By containing a young couple under the watchful eyes (seeing or unseeing) of an older generation in a house rather than a hotel, the audience is exposed to the ways in which people compensate for their struggles through forced pleasantries and genuine empathy when they have nowhere to hide.

Between the doll and other ghostly qualities associated with a battlefield town like Gettysburg, Baker invites those in the audience to confront what may be haunting them, be it a poltergeist or the ghost of an old relationship.

Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Ticket prices range from $27 to $35, with senior, student and military discounts available.

Tickets to two preview performances, on Oct. 16 and 18, are $15 (general seating).

In an effort to remove economic barriers and make Dobama’s productions accessible to everyone, the theatre offers a Pay-As-You-Can performance at 7:30 p.m. on the first Sunday of every production. For "John," that performance will take place on Sunday, Oct. 21.

Call the Dobama box office at 216-932-3396 for information or to purchase tickets and season memberships, or visit

Walk-up box office hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. during performance weeks; and one hour before all performances.

Colin Anderson

Colin Anderson is the assistant to the managing and artistic directors at Dobama Theatre.

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Volume 11, Issue 10, Posted 12:14 PM, 10.01.2018