Tuesday, March 13, 2018

CAUGHT • The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (Studio Theatre)

An art installation titled Devil in a Red Dress greets the guests downstairs at the Rep’s studio theatre. Featuring the work of visiting Chinese conceptual artist, Lin Bo, the showing is complete with docents and a program guide. After a brief introduction by director Seth Gordon, Bo steps up to the podium and talks about the inspiration for his work, and how his viral, visionary protest project commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre resulted in his brutal imprisonment by an oppressive Chinese government. With a profile in The New Yorker magazine and a book on the way, Lin Bo is starting to garner attention. He’s got an intriguing story to tell, but it’s not what it seems.

Lin Bo (Kenneth Lee).
Photo credit: Peter Wochniak
Actually, nothing in the Rep’s production of Christopher Chen’s Caught is what it seems.

I’ll remain slim on the particulars to avoid any spoilers, but this inventive trip down the rabbit hole revels in clouding the line that separates truth from fabrication, examines journalism versus fiction, and throws in a little cultural appropriation for good measure. With each subsequent scene eroding what’s come just before, Chen’s play engages you in the way it obliterates the fourth wall, but skids just past the point of credibility on occasion.

Lin Bo (Kenneth Lee), Bob (Jeffrey Cummings)
and Joyce (Rachel Fenton).
Photo credit: Peter Wochniak
Kenneth Lee is polished as Lin Bo, whether he's waxing philosophical about the contemporary art scene, or being grilled about the details in his memoir. Rachel Fenton as Joyce, a writer hoping to catch her first big break, and later as a curator, and Rachel Lin as playwright Wang Min, resolute in her points of view, are both convincing. Along with Lee, these three are agile in their ability switch gears from scene to scene. Jeffrey Cummings rounds out the cast as Bob, Joyce’s smugly melodramatic magazine editor.

If you’re up for an entertaining night out, and a bit of a mindfuck, check out the players at the Rep’s studio theatre as they collectively ask what the “rules of truth” are, and then watch them blow it all up before your eyes.

Wang Min (Rachel Lin) and Curator (Rachel Fenton).
Photo credit: Peter Wochniak

Written by Christopher Chen
Directed by Seth Gordon
Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road
through March 25 | tickets: $45 - $69.50
Performances Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sunday evenings at 7pm, Thursdays, Fridays and selected Saturday evenings at 8pm, Matinee performances are Saturdays at 4pm and Sundays at 2pm

Lin Bo: Kenneth Lee*
Joyce/Curator: Rachel Fenton
Bob: Jeffrey Cummings*
Wang Min: Rachel Lin*

Wang Min (Rachel Lin) and Lin Bo (Kenneth Lee).
Photo credit: Peter Wochniak
Scenic Designer: Robert Mark Morgan
Costume Designer: Felia K. Davenport
Lighting Designer: Ann G. Wrightson
Sound Designer: Rusty Wandall
Projection Designer: Kylee Loera
Installation Artist: Albert Kuo
Stage Manager: Shannon B. Sturgis*

* Denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of
Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States

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