Metro Weekly

Editor’s Pick: ‘Desdemona: A Play About A Handkerchief’

Paula Vogel's comedy gives voice to the three underwritten female characters from Shakespeare's esteemed classic, 'Othello.'

We Happy Few's Desdemona: A Play About A Handkerchief. Raven Bonniwell, Paige O'Malley, Gabby Wolfe
We Happy Few’s Desdemona: A Play About A Handkerchief. Raven Bonniwell, Paige O’Malley, Gabby Wolfe

Principally named after the Venetian spouse — and later, victim — of Shakespeare’s Othello, the clever and cutting Desdemona: A Play About A Handkerchief by Pulitzer Prize-winning lesbian playwright Paula Vogel (How I Learned to Drive) gives voice to the three underwritten female characters from that esteemed classic.

Touted as a “raunchy romp through feminism [and] a hilarious and poignant delight,” the work finds Desdemona joined by Bianca and Emilia in the back room of Othello’s Cypriot castle for a wide-ranging discussion about friendship, relationships, sex, class, race, rivalry, liberation, “and everything in between.”

The trio explores aspects of their lives — or what they can make of them — all while, unbeknownst to them, decisions are being made for them off-stage.

We Happy Few, a local theater troupe whose mission is to rediscover and reimagine classic stories that challenge, illuminate, and charm audiences — and whose first production was a condensed six-actor, 90-minute version of Hamlet, staged at the 2012 Capital Fringe festival — offers a rare look at Vogel’s 30-year-old play.

Directed by Kerry McGee, the production stars Raven Bonniwell, Paige O’Malley, and Gabby Wolfe, with Manuela Osorio performing original music as violin accompaniment. It’s presented as the company’s post-pandemic return to live theater and also the culmination of its 10th anniversary season.

Previous productions in the season include several audio plays, including A Midnight Dreary: Etched in the Wall as well as two “audio mystery experience[s] mailed right to your door,” Loveday Brooke in the Murder at Troyte’s Hill and Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Norwood Builder — ann all of those remain available to purchase from the company’s website.

Desdemona: A Play about a Handkerchief  runs weekends through June 11.

At the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 7th St. SE.

Tickets are $25. Call 202-547-6839 or visit

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