St. Louis Shakespeare kicks off its thirtieth season with a passionate, emotionally layered production of "Hamlet" that remains faithful to the script while providing a few unexpected twists, most of which work to great effect.
Somewhere in Lebanon, in a dark, cold prison cell, three men wait to learn their fate. Will they be killed by their captors? Will their respective governments negotiate for their freedom? Will they lose their minds and slowly go insane as they wait in the small, cramped cell for release, or at least some news from home? "Someone Who'll Watch Over Me" examines these questions in this gut-wrenching drama set in a single, dark cell.
One of Shakespeare's best loved and most well known plays, "Henry V" tells the continuing story of Hal, introduced as a young ne'er do well prince who brilliantly redeems himself and earns the throne in "Henry IV." Now crowned King Henry V, Hal has unified England and, bolstered by lineage, set his sites on claiming the French crown as well. With both his father and his barroom mentor Falstaff dead, Henry must prove his merit on the battlefield as well as politically, by securing the French princess Katherine as his queen.
Harold Pinter's tale of family dysfunction is a well-acted, sharply directed and tightly produced piece, driven by a surprisingly satisfying level of dark humor and absurdity. What it lacks are easy answers and a clear path towards resolution, though this, too, is done with careful intention.
There was a chill in the air opening night of "Henry IV," and a slight wind, adding a sense of drama well before the curtain. The show, teeming with intrigue, war and Prince Hal's transformation, keeps the tension mounting, weaving a tale that leaves the majority of the audience spellbound from opening scene to curtain call.
"August, Osage County" is a deeply thoughtful, often intensely disturbing look at the secrets families keep and the ways those same secrets are used as ammunition to wound or control other family members. It isn't a pretty show, but it is a well acted, emotionally charged production that examines the dark side of familial ties.
The University of Missouri -- St. Louis department of Theatre, Dance and Media Studies brought heart and compassion to their production of "The Laramie Project" April 10 through April 13, 2014. The clarity and voice of the production stood out, and was nicely complemented by the technical design.
The New Jewish Theatre's presentation of "The Price" is an artfully staged, well-acted production that fully embraces the essential themes of playwright Arthur Miller. There's layered intention in every line and the cast, with strong, purposeful direction from Bruce Longworth, does an admirable job of navigating the playwright's subtleties and inferences while avoiding excess.
Kate Chopin's seminal "The Awakening" is a deeply powerful, ground-breaking novel that explores one woman's emergence as a fully independent self. One of the first works of feminism, it manages to remain fresh and poignantly insightful. In dramatic form, it also presents an opportunity to showcase the talents of an actress capable of playing a character who must express her discontent with the status quo, as well as her awakening passion, with a subtle, nuanced touch.
Adam Rapp's "Red Light Winter" is an exploration of a contemporary love triangle and, frankly, every bit as compelling as a car wreck or sensationalized celebrity crime scene. Watching the play unfold is at times uncomfortable, and occasionally disturbing, but equally compelling.