Saturday, August 23, 2014

FOUR SUGARS • Stray Dog Theatre New Works Laboratory

A quick shout out to a strong production playing at Tower Grove Abbey. Stray Dog's annual New Works Laboratory is presenting local playwright and actor, Stephen Peirick's latest full-length play, "Four Sugars". Two things -- one, it's only got one more performance, and two, it's free with an opportunity to donate what you'd like. With Peirick's works having been produced in several states from Oregon to Massachusetts, the chance to see a new play in the workshop stage is a treat, and the opportunity to offer feedback after the show with Peirick and the cast is an added bonus.

The play centers around roommates Alyse (Sarajane Alverson) and her gay buddy Travis (Jonathan Elkins), who have been married for three years so Alyse can become a U.S. citizen. The parallels of their evolving relationships outside of their marriage of convenience couldn't be more different. Travis has just met Shawn (Mitch Eagles), a hook-up with potential, while Alyse's three year relationship with Ryan (Aaron Dodd) is producing more commotion than anything else. These altercations are an annoyance to their apartment neighbor, Phil (Jason Meyers).

Sarajane Alverson (Alyse), Aaron Dodd (Ryan),
Jonathan Elkins (Travis), Jason Meyers (Phil)
and Mitch Eagles (Shawn). 
Photo credit: John Lamb
The developments between these individuals nicely balance sharp comedy with a more sober coming-of-age tale of sorts, showcasing Peirick's ear for dialogue, with rapid-fire exchanges and clever juxtapositions in conversation. With Peirick's tight direction, the universally strong cast members make the most of their characters' moments of growth, and play off of each other with great timing. Ken Clark's full set, Peirick and Justin Been's sound design and Tyler Duenow's lights bolster the play -- making it one that will hopefully grace many stages in the future.

Aaron Dodd (Ryan)
and Sarajane Alverson (Alyse).
Photo credit: John Lamb
Check it out if you can! If not, keep an eye out for next year's New Works Laboratory at Stray Dog.

I mentioned it's free, right?


Written by Stephen Peirick
Directed by Stephen Peirick
Assistant directors, Jeff Kargus and Katie Puglisi
Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee Ave.
through August 23 | FREE with RSVP
Performances Thursday to Saturday at 8pm

Jonathan Elkins (Travis), Sarajane Alverson (Alyse), Mitch Eagles (Shawn), Aaron Dodd (Ryan) and Jason Meyers (Phil).

Jonathan Elkins (Travis) and Mitch Eagles (Shawn).
Photo credit: John Lamb
Costume design by Stephen Peirick; scenic design by Ken Clark; lighting design by Tyler Duenow; sound design by Stephen Peirick and Justin Been; stage manager, Justin Been.

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