2023 Capital Fringe Review: ‘Ezra Pound Couldn’t Sleep Here’ by John Harney (4 1⁄2 stars)

Acting performances shine in this psychological drama set in DC high society.

Stars are born in John Harney’s Ezra Pound Couldn’t Sleep Here, playing now in the Capital Fringe Festival. Director Emily Dalton tasked the cast with bringing characters alive in this psychological drama. Her players hit the mark. Harney’s script is a serious script with a few funny lines added to spice things up.

The plot revolves around a group that targets high society open houses to rob. Suli Myrie shines as Maddy, the daughter of a former congressman, wife of a rich Georgetown daddy’s boy, mother, drug addict, and closet lesbian.

The audience meets Maddy as a patient at St. Elizabeth’s mental hospital in Ward 8. She refuses to talk to anyone. That leaves no defense for lawyers as a trial for grand theft and aggravated assault nears.

D. Scott Graham is outstanding as Mr. Summer Man, a character who may or may not be real, whom Maddy first met when he was leering into her bedroom window when she was eight and vacationing at a summer home in the Adirondacks. Maddy reported the incident to her parents and police, but the adults told her it was only a dream.

Melvin Smith is exceptional as a self-absorbed former Congressman turned lobbyist. Anna Gencarelli plays dual roles brilliantly. First, she is a frumpy shrink attempting to weave through the situations that brought Maddy to where she is. When Gencarelli appears as Charlotte, the partner in crime, she is a sexy, cocaine-wielding temptress who seduces Maddy into an alternative lifestyle that could be Maddy’s ruin.

All in all, Ezra Pound Couldn’t Sleep Here is a strong offering. See it while you can!


Running Time: 70 minutes, 60 minutes.

Ezra Pound Couldn’t Sleep Here plays on July 20 at 7:45 pm, July 22 at 8:45 pm, and July 23 at 1:00 pm presented by Valcour Island Productions at DCJCC – Cafritz Hall. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online.

Genre: Drama
Playwright: John Harney
Director: Emily Dalton
Performers: Melvin Smith, D. Scott Graham, Anna Gencarelli, Suli Myrie
Age Appropriateness: Recommended for children 13+ older
Profanity: Yes

The complete 2023 Capital Fringe Festival guidebook is online here.


  1. This play adds a new strange element to the DC insider scandal plot. St. Elizabeth’s is a real place I stumbled on to by accident. When I was a student in DC I went to the free clinic at St. Elizabeth’s when I was sick or needed a couple of stitches from a basketball court injury. The DC free clinic only occupied a small space in one building. The place was otherwise completely abandoned. The quietness of what was likely a scary place in its day made me think of the Broadmoor Hotel in the Shining. I tired to imagine what this place was like when it was a sanatorium was housing hundreds of involuntarily confined disabled people. If there is a way I can watch this on tape please advise.


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