Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's review of Contemporary American Theater Festival 2024

The first thing to say about ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, the solo show by Julia Masli now at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, is that no two performances will be the same. Artist and co-director Julia Masli, originally from Estonia and based in London, uses props and audience participation in her hilarious search for meaning in modern life, which is unexpected and at times surprisingly deep.

Masli's promotional material explains that her life's purpose is to solve individual and societal problems and eventually receive the Nobel Peace Prize, but that audiences and reviewers alike keep focusing on her unconventional approach to comedy. That extends to her costume, a wearable sculpture (as described in the program) designed by Alice Wedge, David Curtis-Ring, and Annika Thiems.

The performance, 60 minutes long with no intermission, begins with ethereal music and Masli's silent appearance, an otherworldly figure with large dark eyes in a clown-white face. An important element of the costume is a hovering headpiece that incorporates a camera and a flickering blue light.

"I'm struggling to solve so many problems tonight," Masli says as she addresses individual audience members (including the reviewer's husband at this performance). "Don't worry, it will make sense later."

In her surrealistic presentation, Masli poses questions about the worries facing the people she approaches. In some cases she invites them onstage with her and provides them with props that could help ease their concerns: at this performance, she helped assuage a viewer's worry about climate change by giving him three (working) electric fans to cool him. She destroyed a wooden chair and later brought a man onstage to repair it. Her goal, even displayed in this farcical way, is to remake the world so it will again be livable and serve the needs of the creatures who live on it.

This conceit could not work without a strong visual and aural element. While Lily Woodford's lighting design is mostly subdued, it uses waves of colored light and sharply targeted spots to follow Masli's shifting moods. Alessio Festuccia's sound design also helps draw the viewer into this fantastical shared experience.

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha runs through August 4, 2024, at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 641 D St. NW, Washington DC. For tickets and information, please call 202-393-3939 or visit

By Julia Masli
Co-directed by Julia Masli and Kim Noble
Julia Masli: Julia Masli