Tesseract Theatre continues to demonstrate a commitment to finding not simply new plays, but new plays that tackle contemporary issues with inventive and imaginative plots and well-informed, yet natural, dialogue. Their current production "Age of Bees," by Tira Palmquist, is a thoughtful, and at times powerful, look at an apocalyptic future in which pollinating bees may be extinct.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Romantic poem comes to life in this atmospheric and immersive production from Upstream Theater that plunges the audience deep into the Mariner's tale. The play, a spectacular collaboration between Patrick Siler, who adapted the poem, composers and musicians Paige Brubeck and Evan Sult of the band Sleepy Kitty, and actors Jerry Vogel, as the Mariner, and Shanara Gabrielle and Patrick Blindauer as the ensemble, is an electrifying, thoroughly engrossing show.
St. Louis Shakespeare completes its commitment to producing all of William Shakespeare's plays with "Blood Reigns: Henry VI and the War of the Roses," a thoroughly compelling show culled from "Henry VI," parts 1, 2 and 3. The show, as adapted by director Christopher Limber, Michael B. Perkins and Robin Weatherall, brings Shakespeare's history to life with clarity and emotional undertones that color the performances.
Arthur Miller's famed play "The Crucible," introduced American audiences to the young girls of Salem Massachusetts and the famed witch trials and burnings that followed their accusations. Laurie Brooks presents a different viewpoint in "Afflicted, Daughters of Salem" her thoughtful and well-researched imagining of the lives of these young girls, and Metro Theater Company's current production at the Missouri History Museum through March 22, 2015.
If there's one thing Edward Albee knows, without equivocation, it is the darker side of intimacy. The deep cuts two people can inflict on each other, the way they keep jabbing at the same wounds, ensuring they never heal but remain raw and painful. "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," perhaps Albee's most well known work, is a tour de force in this respect, and the St. Louis Actors' Studio production does not disappoint.
The St. Louis Repertory Theatre's current production, "The Winslow Boy," by Terrence Rattigan, is, at its heart, a play about fatherly love, loyalty and social justice. The show is thoughtfully directed by Steven Woolf, and features fully engaged, well-developed performances by a strong ensemble.
Mustard Seed Theatre's current production is the world premier of local playwright Rob Maesaka's touching historic fiction, "White to Gray." The story intertwines interracial romance and ages-long battles between parents and their children with history. In particular, the show offers a personal glimpse into the effect of World War II on Japanese Americans in Hawaii (as well as other American communities).
Some teachers want to inspire children, to build their minds and prepare them for the future. Other teachers want to protect children, to insulate them from the dangers of reality, to nurture and to care for them. In Evelyne de la Chenelière's inspiring play, "Bashir Lazhar," the title character, a substitute teacher, seems to be motivated by both concerns, resulting in a thoroughly compelling, poignantly layered story and character.
The New Jewish Theatre considers practical, moral and ethical questions surrounding wealth, greed, religion and motivation in its current production, Deb Margolin's "Imagining Madoff." The story weaves transcripts, testimony, interviews and writings to explore not simply now Madoff succeeded in stealing so much money from so many unwitting people, but what compelled him to do so and why was it so easy?
Occasionally, a play sneaks up on you, grabbing you at some visceral, emotional level and knocking you how to write an essay down. The Studio at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' current production is that kind of a play. Deeply thoughtful, and grounded in history, "Safe House" challenges assumptions, providing a seldom seen glimpse of the old south, delivered in richly textured, carefully developed performances.