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  Botticelli in the Fire at Woolly Mammoth Theatre

Botticelli in the Fire

Woolly Mammoth Theatre
641 D St NW Washington

This ambitious ancient-modern mashup shows the spark of the culture war between Italian Renaissance artist and smoldering sensualist Sandro Botticelli, who's in the midst of painting his famed Venus on a half-shell, and the conservative priest who's challenging the relaxed morality of Lorenzo de Medici's Florence. That real-life historical conflict led to the "bonfire of the vanities" -- the burning of "sinful" items like art and books. Inspired by these actual events, Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill gives Botticelli an apprentice/lover (none other that Leonardo da Vinci), and then traps him between the church and the powerful Medicis, forcing him to make an impossible choice. This American premiere of Botticelli in the Fire closes out the Woolly Mammoth Theatre's 38th season.

Thru - Jun 24, 2018

Wednesdays: 8:00pm
Thursdays: 8:00pm
Fridays: 8:00pm
Saturdays: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sundays: 2:00pm & 7:00pm

Box Office: 202-393-3939

Nearby Restaurants

  Botticelli in the Fire Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Washington Post - Recommended

"...There's a bigger picture, and it's how long Shalwitz's Woolly has subverted conventions and cried out with civic purpose. "Botticelli in the Fire" won't make my cut of top 10 provocations in a personal list that started with Wallace Shawn's "Aunt Dan and Lemon" (starring Nancy Robinette and Jennifer Mendenhall) in 1988, and Shalwitz's fingerprints will be all over the next season, which he chose as the troupe eventually hired his successor, Maria Manuela Goyanes. But its torquing of art and conscience, scandalizing an audience that has demonstrated a high tolerance for being jolted, is a characteristic capstone for Shalwitz, whose theater has only gained purpose through the years by never settling for sure things."
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Nelson Pressley

MetroWeekly - Recommended

"...A reimagining of Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli and the events which led him to throw his paintings on the fire after embracing the teachings of a populist preacher, Botticelli in the Fire offers both too much and too little."

Kate Wingfield

BroadwayWorld - Recommended

"...While the show is more than a little quirky and edgy, I'd recommend the production wholeheartedly. Regardless of your own identity and preference, there's much to internalize and appreciate in this play. It's exceptionally relevant in today's America, sadly."
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Jennifer Perry

Talkin Broadway - Somewhat Recommended

"...The downside of Tannahill's approach is the winking way he points out the parallels between 1480s Florence, described as "one of the most progressive cities in the world," and contemporary society. Clarice makes her first appearance in a brocaded gown (costumes by Ivania Stack), but later she wears modern loungewear and a sun hat as she watches her husband and lover (also in modern clothes) play squash. The characters talk on smartphones, smoke cigarettes, and eat peanut butter. Since the language is contemporary and on point (Savonarola wants to "return the power to the people" and tells Lorenzo that the excesses of rhetoric are just to get attention), the rest becomes tiresome."
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Susan Berlin

DC Metro Theater Arts - Highly Recommended

"...Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" is a painting famous for its youthful beauty and artistic mastery. When I stood in front of it in Florence, I struggled to look away - which is exactly how I felt about Botticelli in the Fire, Woolly Mammoth's new show about a queer and vivacious painter struggling to make art in a world that's increasingly hostile. The cast, led by the riveting Jon Hudson Odom as Botticelli, convincingly portrays characters whose struggles mirror our own in 2018."
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Elizabeth Ballou

MD Theatre Guide - Recommended

"...Director Marti Lyons does an excellent job pacing a consistently funny first act (complete with an interstitial featuring Venus herself), darkening into a second half that finds Botticelli and his friends increasingly vulnerable. The sense of unease is amplified by Misha Kachman's set, notable for its silvery curtains, which dance and glint eerily, foretelling the fires that will burn before the story ends."
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Norah Dick

DCTheatreScene - Highly Recommended

"...Director Marti Lyons keeps all these balls in the air with a sureness and quick clip, devising clever scene changes and encouraging the cast to use every inch of Misha Kachman's deceptively simple set. Odom owns the room from the moment he interrupts the curtain speech to the final defiant lick of a knife. He makes it clear that this is his play, and we're playing by his rules. He seamlessly switches from confident cad to vulnerable lover at the drop of a flat cap. That sometimes his rapid-fire dropping of drag slang feels somewhat forced may have more to do with the script than with Odom's delivery."
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John Bavoso

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