Tuesday, July 31, 2018

THE REALISTIC JONESES • Rebel And Misfits Productions

When Bob (Alan Knoll) and Jennifer (Laurie McConnell) meet their new neighbors, John (Isaiah Di Lorenzo) and Pony (Kelly Hummert), it would seem the only thing they have in common is the last name, “Jones.” But as these couples get caught up in each other's orbits and learn of each other's sorrows, playwright Will Eno finds a striking balance between laugh-out-loud humor and disquieting melancholy. You'd be hard-pressed to find a play that speaks so fluently to the human inclination towards connection by way of such disjointed tangles of inelegant conversation than Rebel and Misfits' sharp, St. Louis premiere production.

Bob and Jennifer, lounging in their backyard taking a stab at small talk, are interrupted by the noisy arrival of John and Pony who come over to introduce themselves -- wine bottle in hand. Pony -- affable, fragile and dizzy, explains that she’s always wanted to live in a small town near the mountains in a way that’s just short of “valleyspeak”, while John has non sequitur-filled, slightly contentious exchanges with Bob, who’s quietly imploding and over the unannounced visit pretty quickly. The communication that this foursome engages in as they become more acquainted comes with an awkwardness that hangs in the air, but it also grows to include an intimacy grounded in isolation, love and fear that’s slyly situated just beyond the banter.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

LaBute New Theater Festival II • St. Louis Actors' Studio

The second set of one-act plays in this year’s LaBute New Theater Festival kicked off this past Friday, and while the first half offered a mixed bag, this second half is strong. LaBute’s The Fourth Reich (that you can read about here), is followed by Michael Long’s The Gettier Problem, Peter McDonough’s The Process, and Unabridged by Sean Abley.

The Gettier Problem, directed by Wendy Greenwood, opens with Colleen Backer as Edie Gettier, a patient in a psychiatric hospital. She’s being coaxed into taking her premedication by a nurse (Erin Brewer) and a technician (Spencer Sickmann). The tech is the only one she’ll take the pill for, as she seems to have a little crush on him. Once the nurse leaves the tech to make sure the pill takes effect, Gettier’s physical tics stop, she loses her lisp, and says she’s a PhD who’s undercover doing research about the mysteries of knowledge -- something she hopes to achieve by going through the procedure without premedication.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

LaBute New Theater Festival I • St. Louis Actors' Studio

The LaBute New Theater Festival is back for its sixth year at St. Louis Actors' Studio. The finalists are culled from about 300 entries, and six new short plays have been chosen, along with an annual debut by the festival’s namesake, Tony-nominated playwright Neil LaBute, who made an appearance on opening night. The first set of three will run through the 15th, and the second trio will run from the 20th through the 29th, with LaBute’s premiere featured every night of the festival. There were also four high school finalists that received a free-admission stage reading this past Saturday.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Grand Center Theatre Crawl • St. Louis Public Radio, Grand Center & Kranzberg Arts Foundation

Presented by Grand Center, St. Louis Public Radio, and the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, the sixth annual Grand Center Theatre Crawl kicked off last Friday. Over the course of 2 days, with venues scattered throughout the Grand Center Arts District, over 2 dozen companies performed short presentations every 30 minutes -- all for free! It’s another one-of-a-kind theatre celebration that’s pretty unique to St. Louis. The organizers of the Theatre Crawl did some limited research on theatre events and festivals around the country. They found lots of Fringe Festivals, events devoted to specific playwrights, and events dedicated to new work. They did not, however, find anything that celebrated the local theatre community quite like the Crawl. Here’s a very small taste of what was on offer.