Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Dark Horse Theater Company Oleanna

By • Jun 12th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Dark Horse Theater Company
DC Arts Center, Washington DC
Through June 19
1:15 with no intermission
$15/$10 DCAC members, Students, Seniors
Reviewed June 4, 2010

The starter show for the fledgling Dark Horse Theater Company, Oleanna was bursting with energy and electric tension. Founder of Dark Horse Theater Company and director of its maiden production, Natasha Parnian put on a terrific show. It was crafted in a way that was meaningful and engaging, relying less on overt sexual tension and more on the characters’ personal reactions to events. In my opinion, it was one of the most effective ways to convey the story without alienating the audience.

The set design, by Parnian and Craig Lewis, was perfect for creating an office feel without overwhelming the viewer. The size and orientation of the staging area is awkward, but the final set design overcame, creating depth and flow.

Both actors seemed to rush through the first act of the show. The characters seemed too well-scripted and the breakneck pace left the audience with their heads spinning. The second two scenes were less rushed and the story was well fleshed-out. Please be aware that Oleanna contains strong language especially in the final scene.

Arianne’ Warner’s Carol was an opportunistic individual looking for the chance to lash out at childhood ghosts. However, even with the nuances of pathos, I found it very difficult to sympathize with her character. Warner’s portrayal of Carol dramatically played up her lifelong habit of internalizing others’ opinions rather than drawing her own. Strong personalities may have difficulty overcoming their frustration to identify with this young woman’s emotional crises.

Doug Mattingly as John dominated this production. His character, while annoyingly condescending, was real and accessible. I sympathized with Mattingly’s characterization more because he really drew on John’s past to fuse it with his present. The fatherly tendencies towards his students, while perhaps not appreciated, seemed to have a genuine motivation and really drew me in.

For those of us who don’t haunt the Capitol on a regular basis, DC Arts Center is in the NW quarter of DC. There is street parking and a parking garage nearby, but the garage is pricey and street parking has a two hour time limit. The Center itself is well-marked. The theater is accessed by two flights of stairs, so it is not wheelchair friendly.

Director’s Note

Like untun’d golden strings all women are, which long time untouch’d, will harshly jar. -Christopher Marlowe

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more, Men were deceivers ever. -William Shakespeare

The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women. -John Knox

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it. -George Bernard Shaw

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. -Mao Tse-Tung

Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all, By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall. -John Dickenson

Humans, it seems to me, find themselves in a perpetual inner struggle between the need to survive and the need to live peaceably together. When opinions differ, when resources are scarce or coveted, or when there is inequity the conflict spills out of our souls and does nothing but harm.

All the above quotes are from men. Women, it seems, have nothing memorable to say on the subject, at least nothing is presented in my book of quotes. Should the book therefore be burned? Perhaps it would be better to build on it, to saturate it with a wealth of perspectives. Then it would be a book about humans.


  • John: Doug Mattingly
  • Carol: Arienne’ Warner

Production Team

  • Producer: Cheryl Parnian
  • Director: Natasha Parnian
  • Rehearsal Stage Manager: Craig Lewis
  • Performance Stage Manager: Sarah Kamins
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Katie Bull
  • Fight Directors: Brian Farrell and Karen Schlumpf
  • Set Design: Natasha Parnian and Craig Lewis
  • Properties: Cheryl Parnian
  • Sound Design: Natasha Parnian
  • Light Board Operator: Eric Wells
  • Sounds Board Operator: Katie Savin-Murphy
  • Stage Crew: Katie Savin-Murphy, Sarah Kamins, Eric Wells, and Kathryn Rother
  • Costume Design: Arianne’ Warner and Natasha Parnian

Disclaimer: Dark Horse Theater Company provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is a student of Speech and Communication at Northern Virginia Community College. She has been involved in the performing arts since the age of five when she debuted as the Little Red Hen on an elementary school stage. Her career includes both national and international ensemble performances with semi-professional choirs, various roles in community and college musicals (both onstage and off), as well as co-directing drama camp for Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA.

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