Thursday, May 29, 2014

THE HOMECOMING • St. Louis Actors' Studio

Playwright Harold Pinter's works have fallen into a category called, "Comedy of Menace". STLAS's current production, "The Homecoming", exemplifies this definition, proving that nearly fifty years after the play's London premiere, this family struggle for dominance and sexual power still has the capacity to jar, amuse and disquiet. Love…

The patriarch of this noxious clan is Max (Peter Mayer), a widower, retired butcher and withering pillar of strength in suspenders trying to maintain supremacy in his bleak North London home. He rules with constant jabs from his armchair throne, and the threat for the top-dog spot comes from his icy son Lenny (Charlie Barron), a violent pimp who wears a perpetual smirk of contempt. Max's youngest son Joey (Nathan Bush), a dimwitted aspiring boxer, and his brother Sam (Larry Dell), a docile chauffeur, also live in the house and pose no threat, but are subjected to Max's tyranny nonetheless. The wrangling for the upper-hand shifts when Max's eldest son Teddy (Ben Ritchie) brings his wife of six years, Ruth (Missy Heinemann), back to his home in the middle of the night.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

PRAYER FOR THE GUN BUG • OnSite Theatre Company

OnSite Theatre's current offering, "Prayer for the Gun Bug" will satisfy the minds and bellies of theatre adventurers. In keeping with the company's tradition of presenting site-specific theatre, this one takes place at Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant on South Grand. This world premiere collection of short plays written by Carter Lewis, playwright-in-residence at Washington University, includes dashes of the surreal in each play, making for a savory production that's easy to sit back, take in, and enjoy. With some tasty Ethiopian food!

"No-Preying" finds Heddie (Peggy Billo) and her friend Agatha (Jacqueline Thompson) nibbling and gossiping about the latest happenings at Meskerem's, recently the source of a controversy about whether or not prayer should be allowed in the restaurant. With a "No Praying" sign above the door, Heddie and Agatha, an atheist and agnostic respectively, spar about spiritual beliefs and behavioral instincts, when a giant mantis (Pete Winfrey) in black leather with huge eyes, folded fore-limbs and all, enters the room. Yep -- one of these guys, only way better dressed. The arrival of this huge bug drives the conversation about spirituality to a whole different and unexpected level.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

BACHELORETTE • Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble

The display of alcohol fueled bitchiness among women is nothing new, but the vicious appetites of the three women featured in Leslye Headland's play firmly places the dark in dark comedy. When four high school friends get together for a bachelorette party night of self-indulgence, the sting of life's letdowns are veiled behind booze, pot, cocaine, random sex and a meanness that makes The Real Housewives look like choir girls.

Regan (Ellie Schwetye), Gena (Cara Barresi) and Katie (Wendy Renée Greenwood) were the popular girls back in the day, and now these post-collegiate friends meet up to celebrate the pre-wedding festivities of their "friend", the bride-to-be, Becky (Jamie Fritz). Gena and Katie had a falling out with Becky years earlier and are crashing the party, invited by Regan, the maid of honor. These three are already half-past plastered by the time they reach their posh Manhattan hotel room, provided by Becky, and once they realize that there is enough chilled champagne for at least 2 bottles each, it. is. on.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

24 Hour Play Festival - ROUND 2! • Theatre Lab & The Players Project Theater Company

This past weekend, Theatre Lab & Players Project Theatre Company teamed up for the second installment of the 24 Hour Play Festival, held at Webster Groves High School. This is one of those cool, one-night-only theatre things that I'm always telling my friends about.

The deal is, 5 writers are given a genre, setting and a line that has to be incorporated into the script. (The audience doesn't know what the line is until the performance.) The writers have 7 days to complete a 10 or so minute play, and the randomly selected directors and actors have 24 hours to memorize, stage and rehearse it before performing the plays for the public the next day. Love, right? Not only does the festival result in five new works, it's also a special night of fresh theatre for the audience, and a blast for the artists who come together to work on their pieces.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

WINDMILL BABY • Upstream Theater

Upstream Theater continues its "Down Under" season with Australian playwright David Milroy's "Windmill Baby". Upstream once again ushers in a US premiere that was first presented in 2005 in Perth, Australia. This one-woman show revolves around Maymay Starr (Linda Kennedy), an Aboriginal woman who has returned to the cattle station where she spent her youth to put some unfinished business to rest.

After her daughter drops her off and she has a good look around the dusty and broken down homestead, the business she starts with is hanging up some very old, long-dry laundry she finds in a washtub. Hanging up the washing for the Missus is something Maymay's all too familiar with, and the busy work gives her a chance to recall 50 years of bottled up memories about the relationships she formed during the service to her ill-tempered boss on this now deserted patch of western Australia.