When I went to grad school at the University of Leeds in England—way back in 1960—some of the theatre folks there still told tales of a "crazy Nigerian" student who used to hang by his heels at cast parties. Well, that crazy Nigerian was Wole Soyinka and he went on to become one of Africa's greatest playwrights and novelists. In 1986 he received the Nobel Prize in Literature.
The Webster Conservatory has revived Craig Lucas’ fantastical little comedy, "Reckless", from 1983. We find Rachel, a pretty young wife and mother, experiencing an attack of euphoria on Christmas Eve. Rachel (as more than one critic has said) is something of a Candide in her irrepressibly optimistic attitude toward life. But she’s blended with a large dose of June Cleaver (for those of you old enough to remember “Leave it to Beaver”). She’s blissful in her conventional domestic role.
Harold Pinter is one of the few playwrights who have become adjectives: you know, like “Shakespearean”, “Shavian”, “Chekhovian”, “Brechtian”. We so easily say “Pinteresque” to convey that sense of muted menace seeping through the cracks of mundane detail in his dialogue. In Pinter the pauses seem to carry far weightier meaning than the words themselves.
"Never Mind the Why and Wherefore" is still merrily dancing and skipping in my ear. Will I ever get it out? Why in the world would I want to?
The Rep has opened that hilarious backstage slap-stick sex-farce, "Noises Off". This amazing play by Michael Frayn has left audiences breathless with laughter since 1982 when it won both the Olivier and the Evening Standard awards for Best Comedy. With the help of a few modernizing touch-ups by the playwright over the years it shows no sign of aging. It's still bright and fresh and goofy and wild and delightful—AND an immense challenge for any company attempting it.
Ko-Ko san and Nanki-Poo compete for the hand of the lovely Yum-Yum as Pish-Tush and Poo-Bah tend to civic duties in the town of Titipu in Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado".
Winter Opera is closing its seventh season with a very strong production of Gaetano Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor."
Nine years ago I fell in love with an adorable musical when it came to the Fox. It was "Mamma Mia!" and I loved it not just because of its engaging and imaginative music, but because the story was a lovely old-fashioned romantic situation-comedy, simply and economically told with sensitivity and moderation. Well, that old flame is back in town, and God, how she's changed. Nine years ago I left the Fox full of warmth, with just the gentlest sweet hint of heartache. This time it was more like heart-burn: "Mamma Mia!", that'sa one spicy meatball! Quick, the Alka Seltzer!
The St. Louis Black Rep fills its new home to overflowing with bright talent and Christmas joy! Their production of "Black Nativity" is a glorious celebration now playing at the Emerson Theatre at Harris-Stowe University.
A lovely, sensitive new play, "The Two Sisters," by Dennis Corcoran has opened at St. Louis Community College at Meramac. It's set in 1980 in the women's prison at Armagh, Northern Ireland, and it addresses the heroism—and the brutishness—that can arise in religious and political conflict.