Max and Louie Productions' staging of Doug Wright's "Quills" is a deliciously inventive play weighing our decidedly human fascination with social and sexual mores against the lengths society will go to in the attempt to stifle the works of artists who push the envelope or in other ways make us nervous.
The St. Louis Actors' Studio once again features the works of established and emerging playwrights in its annual month-long festival of new plays, the "LaBute New Theater Festival," with four works produced for the second half of the festival. Running through August 3, 2014, the plays in part two represent the strongest productions of the festival and include Neil LaBute's "Here We Go round the Mulberry Bush," which had its world premier during part one.
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.