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Feeding the Dragon

From 25 critic and 118 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Entertaining, Intelligent, Delightful

About the show

Primary Stages presents Sharon Washington's autobiographical solo piece, in which she revisits her time growing up in an apartment on the top floor inside the St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library. More…

Sharon's father served as the library's custodian. Shrouded in family mystery, Sharon’s story boldly examines how both the power of forgiveness and her lifelong love for the written word have helped her battle dragons of all forms.


"Under the assured direction of Maria Mileaf in a production which started at the Hartford Stage earlier, Sharon Washington is a captivating and entertaining presence both as she narrates her story and also gives commentary and hints of her life since then. Told with the innocence of childhood, 'Feeding the Dragon' also will enchant readers and nostalgia buffs alike, for the world that she describes does not exist anymore now that libraries are high tech places ruled by computers." Full Review

Pop Culturalist

"Watching the play, you won’t find yourself wishing for other actors to help her perform the piece. She channels family members, friends, and neighbors really well...And, not only are her stories incredibly enchanting and engaging, but the set (designed by Tony Ferrieri) is equally so...For any bibliophile or lover of storytelling, Sharon Washington’s autobiographical solo play, 'Feeding the Dragon,' is an absolute delight." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"A perfect example of how a good memory for autobiographical details, coupled with exceptional acting skills (not to mention an ingratiating presence), can make almost anyone's life compelling theatre…None of this is particularly deep or socially revelatory, nor is there much of a dramatic arc to it. What makes it special is how entertainingly real Washington makes it…Her graceful body and mimic talents combine to express multiple emotional reactions." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"In the early scenes, the tone is light...There are hints of outside events, but Washington concentrates on the personal...Washington has a very ingratiating personality and is a skilled storyteller and impersonator. The polished production benefits greatly from an attractive stepped set...Mileaf directs with a light touch. It all added up to a low-key pleasure." Full Review

Village Voice

"Washington is very, very intelligent. In addition to which, she’s a delightful person to be around for ninety minutes, with a fine actor’s capacity for transformation and a born storyteller’s knack for casting a magical haze over even the most everyday events...Each story opens a new vista, yet each also links, quietly, to matters raised earlier. The effect is cumulative: the shaping of an artist’s personality...Acting, mimicking, presenting, or narrating, Washington is always a figure to wa... Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Consists of delightful reminiscences that bring to life NY in all its gritty midcentury glory...So entertaining are these stories, and so adept is Washington at telling them, with her warm personality and faultless timing, that it may take you some time to notice that 'Feeding the Dragon' isn't headed anywhere..The absence of drama is apparent in the last quarter when the lack of urgency is rather keenly felt. Still, under the direction of Mileaf, Washington is, for the most part, excellent... Full Review

New York Theater

"Washington’s delightfully acted memoir...The best thing about 'Feeding the Dragon' is Washington’s spot-on impersonations of the characters from her childhood...Washington enhances her storytelling by sharply detailed observations literately expressed...The stumbling block here is that either Washington didn’t feel there was enough material in the library, or that it was not of sufficient interest to her, for her to stay focused on the library adventures all the way through." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"Washington is compelled to talk as candidly as she knows how about the complicated life she led with her parents...She recalls good times and bad...Washington sees and lives the magic but also stresses the harsh grounding all but the luckiest children inevitably encounter...Moving confidently about the stage and sometimes even dancing under Maria Mileaf's capable direction, she's a welcome guide to the recognizable duality." Full Review

Front Row Center

"It is a sweet tale, as memoirs often are. What 'Feeding The Dragon' lacks, however, is a mission...Indeed, the few points of drama we hear about are only passing references...Washington is an engaging performer and an excellent character actor. But the material does not give her a chance to show off her many skills. Without the twists and turns, the obstacles and challenges, this becomes a ride on calm water. Neither Washington nor we get to soar the way we would like to." Full Review


"Washington grabs our attention immediately...While much of it is charming and a good deal is touching, the piece overall is diffuse, at 90 minutes, slightly overlong...The affectionate dignity of Washington's performance safeguards the text from turning cute or precious. And she's adept at channeling characters...What makes this presentation noteworthy is the verisimilitude of the playwright's measured but theatrical interpretation of her own writing." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"Washington clearly relishes drawing us into the world of her childhood, and that delight is infectious...At first, the swift pace of Washington’s script fits well with her energy. After a time though, I did long for more detail...Maria Mileaf’s direction unfortunately works against Washington. Moments of significance are needlessly underlined with lighting shifts and underscoring...While 'Dragon' lacks an emotional or thematic throughline, each section is individually effective." Full Review

The New York Times

"At its most affecting, it's a memoir of Washington's parents' perseverance and muted pain in a culture warped by racism...The show attempts — but, for an adult audience, doesn’t achieve — a tricky tonal balance between childish memories and poignant later realization...Washington slips nimbly in and out of characters, each voice and accent clearly defined...The surface of Washington's story is far less compelling than what's underneath, and this play doesn't delve deep enough." Full Review


"Washington has a storyteller's gift for animating her tale with lively and distinct impersonations of people from her past, and her easygoing delivery has a way of making us feel like we're taking part in a story-time hour. That endearing aspect of the show makes Washington a pleasure to watch, but over the course of 80 minutes, her story does not deliver the meaty dramatic morsel that would have transformed this 'Dragon' from a well-performed memoir into a compelling work of theater." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"A natural born storyteller, Washington's sensitive, graceful recollections make for a lovely experience but one that would make more sense as an audiobook or a one-on-one conversation...Has inventive directorial touches...As the narrative tries to find its dramatic arc the play becomes lost in itself...Such a great actress that she often pulls off the moments that feel trite...With a more focused approach, the tonal shifts in the show would compliment, rather than compete with each other." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"Engaging, if meandering...Washington's library stories are the theatrical equivalent of a page-turner...But when Washington leaves the confines of the library, 'Feeding the Dragon' starts to stray...As it is, 'Dragon' leaves so many questions unanswered...Washington is an honest, appealing performer who cultivates an easy, genuine rapport with the audience. As a writer, she simply seems less comfortable in the fairy-tale oeuvre." Full Review


for a previous production "What is so special, and so unique about 'Feeding the Dragon' is it is not only a beautiful story, performed by the author, but a story about her own life. This makes Washington's words, her emotions, and her actions resonate on an entirely different level...The play does what every good story should - it captures the mind, inspires imagination, and transports the audience to a place that seems too magical to be real...It is likely a once in a lifetime opportunity to see." Full Review

The Howard – On Stage & Screen Review Blog

for a previous production "A true flood of creativity from book to stage and a tale both riveting and heartfelt...An absolutely enchanting surprise to this reviewer...This production left an indelible mark on me as playwright and performer Sharon Washington so vividly recreates her cherished childhood retrospection...Washington’s outstanding on stage performance, light, friendly, engaging, as she reels the audience into the childhood world of 'young Sharon.'" Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

for a previous production "Performed with exquisite grace...The one-woman play is insightful, multi-faceted, and enacted with warmth and versatility...She literally dances through some short scenes and always faces her audience. Her composure is enviable and she enables those in attendance to accompany her, to feel a part of her process...'Feeding the Dragon' is certainly heartfelt, but not without some levity...One is asked to listen, watch, and open one's imagination." Full Review

Great Hartford Patch

for a previous production "Many key memories of her childhood are brought to life with the actress playing almost 20 characters...These characterizations may have been subtle, but I found them very easy to follow. The vignettes were interspersed with exposition and commentary and for me, they flowed well. I got so wrapped up in the outstanding storytelling that the ninety minutes flew by...A strong writing debut for this multi-talented playwright who also does fine work onstage." Full Review

The Westfield News

for a previous production "In a ninety minute intermission-less monologue, Washington plays multiple characters...Washington is a solid storyteller, and she’s given an able assist by director Maria Mileaf...Washington’s performance, considering she knows the material intimately, is quite varied. Her musical theatre experience combined with her deftness for Shakespearean language give her delivery nuance and lyricism. She plays to all corners of the theatre, and some of her characters are riveting." Full Review

On Stage Blog

for a previous production "Washington brings her family and friends to life through her portrayals, using a variety of accents and physical manifestations. Washington brings humor and levity to her tales as narrator and through her characters. I found the stories to be interesting and enjoyable but was hoping for a narrative that was more compelling...The issue wasn’t the story, but Washington’s delivery. While her performance was good, it wasn’t convincing entirely, and that made the show less engaging for me." Full Review

Hartford Courant

for a previous production "Washington could hardly be more ingratiating. Or more present. Or more active...Theatrically speaking, 'Feeding the Dragon' loses a great deal of its power when its lead character leaves the library...As soon as that magical world dissipates, it is greatly missed...Shifting environments and topics lead to a too-general, rather unsatisfying finish for what begins as a unique experience. There’s still a lot to recommend in this passionate, personal performance." Full Review

New Haven Review

for a previous production "The family lived in a custodial apartment within the library...That shared thrill at access beyond the norm is our entrée into Washington’s tale...Washington is a consummate story-teller, engaging, lively, warm, and confiding. Her story, however, doesn’t always feel distinctive enough for a full-scale theatrical treatment, nor quite funny or dramatic enough as anecdote...As theater, the show becomes weakest as it searches for a note to end on." Full Review

CT Post-Chronicle

for a previous production "What her play doesn’t give us is a story with much forward momentum, conflict, or originality. There are hints throughout Washington’s narrative of where the story might have gone...She decides to just relay that information without further exploration leaving us to wonder on our own...A missed opportunity in a play full of them...Despite the engaging performance at its core...there still remains no urgent or compelling reason for this particular story to be told." Full Review

Journal Inquirer

for a previous production "There isn’t anything wrong with the story concept. The problem is that her parents appear to have done a good job insulating her from the more dramatic elements of their conflicts and social issues of the ’60s, weakening the narrative of the show...If Washington and I were sitting down to a bottle of pinot noir, I would love to be able to pick her brain about her childhood growing up in a library, but this story does not quite merit any necessity for a stage performance." Full Review

Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Must see, Delightful

See it if you want to see a funny, engaging, marvelous account of a woman growing up in NYC performed by the woman herself

Don't see it if you never, ever like one-woman performances no matter how good they might be

Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing

See it if you enjoy very personal, one-woman shows. Sharon weaves a wonderful story, with a wide range of touching autobiographical details.

Don't see it if you are expecting a traditional plot. It's a beautiful story by an accomplished actress.

Clever, Entertaining, Resonant, Quirky, Enchanting

See it if You are comfortable with personal memoirs and monologues, urban tales, stories about family love and disfunction

Don't see it if You seek drama, interactin between actors, strong narrative arc.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Funny, Intelligent

See it if Great 1 woman show, beautifully written, acted by Washington.She’s phenomenal.Her childhood: living in ny libraries & her colorful family.GO

Don't see it if dislike 1 person shows.dislike period piece about NYC.If issues around race or addiction are a is wonderful,tho, GO while you can

Absorbing, Masterful, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if Sharon Washington's outstanding performance & her wondrous, warm & heartbreaking writing in this autobiographical piece interests you ...

Don't see it if one-person shows are not on your theatrical menu.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if Great story told beautifully.

Don't see it if You aren’t a fan of one person plays

Enchanting, Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Touching

See it if You love well acted stories.

Don't see it if You want a big production or spectacle.

Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Must see, Refreshing

See it if A personal story brought to life with delight! Brilliant acting you take a terrific terrific journey with the play -- a real NY story.

Don't see it if If you are looking for a musical or want a show with a lot of spectacle.

Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Absorbing, Refreshing

See it if You enjoy storytelling by a talented performer.

Don't see it if Don’t enjoy memoirs or monologues

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if you are hungering for some good old fashion story telling by a very talented story teller/actress, being Sharon Washington.

Don't see it if a riveting one person show about a colorful life growing up here in New York City is not your theater forte.

Also Actress Sharon Washington is a force to be reckoned with. From the mom... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful, Resonant

See it if A beautifully acted telling of a poignant family story.

Don't see it if You are looking for action rather than thougbt

Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking, Absorbing

See it if you like being in the presence of a master storytelling sharing her unique life experiences in and around a public library.Her words matter.

Don't see it if you don't mind missing really wonderful stories about growing up in an African-American family housed on the top floor of a public library.

Entertaining, Funny, Touching, Resonant

See it if you care to hear the story of a woman whose family lived in an apartment above--with access to--a branch of the NY Public Library.

Don't see it if you hate one-person shows.

Delightful, Entertaining, Great writing, Resonant

See it if its a real story told and acted out by the real person who wrote the play. Sharon Washington does an excellent job in this one women show

Don't see it if a one person show is not for your enjoyment.

Great writing, Great acting, Absorbing, Emotional, Funny

See it if You like one woman autobiopic shows performed by a master storyteller. Sharon Washington is emotionally connected to every character.

Don't see it if You dislike autobiographical shows. Have no interest in others’ heritage and courage.

Also Sharon tells it all straight forwardly with an emotional connection to... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if You like a really charming and engaging show with a sweet feeling about it.

Don't see it if You want a show with heavy drama and conflict

Dragons can be dangerous: moving child's tale showing what it was like to grow up black and poor but w aspirations in nyc in the early 1970s

See it if winning; poetic script; Sharon Washington in 1-person show effortlessly & w/ humor portrays a kaleidoscope of characters in her life

Don't see it if this does not take a "deep", analytic approach per NY Times; still this tale told from a child's perspective shows wonder & hurt

Also "Feeding the Dragon" stands for a number of things: (i) a child's imag... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Funny, Resonant, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if a lovely, small memoir about childhood and the dawn of maturity, it touches on racism alcohol & poverty without being heavyhanded or tragic.

Don't see it if you aren't interested in a one-woman memory play about growing up african-american.

Clever, Entertaining, Intelligent, Refreshing, Absorbing

See it if Sharon Washington tells a fascinating tale of growing up inside the NY Public Library. Engaging, entertaining, fun.

Don't see it if If you don’t like one-person shows, or aren’t interested in stories of growing up in NY in the ‘70s, you might not like this.

Enchanting, Resonant, Absorbing, Funny, Warm

See it if Autobiography with many interesting and touching stories. Ms. Washington entertains us while drawing us into her unusual life.

Don't see it if You don't like solo nonfiction autobiographies. You want something other than feeling a kinship to another person's life journey.

Intelligent, Great acting, Edgy, Funny, Entertaining

See it if Fascinating look at working class family life in 1950s NYC with the added twist of seeing what it's like to live above a branch of the NYPL.

Don't see it if You prefer large ensembles and glitz. This is a thoughtful one-woman show.

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Delightful

See it if You enjoy well written, well acted one person creative shows with great scenery

Don't see it if You don't like little shows

Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing, Refreshing, Enchanting

See it if you are interested in personal stories well told.

Don't see it if you are not interested in autobiographical tales.

Entertaining, Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You enjoy one-actor shows that are autobiographical. Funny and heartfelt, very enjoyable

Don't see it if You prefer bigger productions or musicals

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great staging, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy one-actor autobiographical shows. Sharon Washington's story was incredibly interesting and she is a very engaging performer.

Don't see it if you want a big cast production piece or you don't like autobiographical stories that are sometimes difficult to watch/listen to.

Cast & Creatives (7)