The second half of St. Louis Actors' Studio's "LaBute New Theater Festival," hits another high note. The five plays presented examine the nature of human relationships, and the dances we go through in order to start and preserve those that are significantly important to each of us.
If there's one thing the Midnight Company's artistic director and principle actor Joe Hanrahan knows, it's how to find and interpret interesting characters with good stories to tell. The remarkable part about this is that Hanrahan has been creating these characters for several years and still manages to find ways to make each character a unique individual, with quirks, mannerisms and opinions aplenty to share. In the company's production of Conor McPherson's "St. Nicholas," running through July 26, 2015, Hanrahan has discovered another persuasively imperfect story to embrace.
The fourth year of St. Lou Fringe Festival, is a celebration of performing arts featuring more than 100 shows and events. This year the festival expanded over two weekends, with creative workshops and parties offered during the days the theaters were dark. And, in the reviewer's opinion, this is not merely good for the Fringe, this is a great step for St. Louis theater and arts.
Act Inc., now in its 35th season, promotes itself as one of only three companies in the country dedicated to "reviving the lost gems of theatre history." The company seeks out and produces lesser-known works by famous authors as well as revival productions of once popular plays. Their two show summer season includes Woody Allen's "Play It Again Sam," and "Love from a Stranger," written by Dame Agatha Christie, as adapted by Frank Vosper.
Gitana Production's "Black and Blue" is a thought provoking, well-acted and strongly worded play that stirs discussion in an attempt to create a fuller, more varied and nuanced understanding of racial conflict, not only in St. Louis but across America. The company makes an effort to present well-developed stories and characters, and this play, presented in a series of short sketches and brief monologues, creates context through an overlapping and ongoing dialogue.
Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis' 15th season tackles one of Shakespeare's most well known plays, "Antony & Cleopatra," with a bold, lust-filled and politically intriguing production. The tragedy of Cleopatra's last love affair is set among the wars of Rome, at the beginning of the end of the Caesars. The machinations of war are an important theme, but it is the price of love that is central to the story.
An original play by Tesseract Theatre's artistic director Taylor Gruenloh, "An Initial Condition," running through May 24, 2015, is a thoughtful, and well thought-out, play. The script scatters a few interesting twists throughout, and is brought to life with solid performances and a compelling, if not at all lighthearted, subject. This piece, a premiere production directed by Robert Moss, may need a few additional revisions to improve the pacing, but continues a string of shows from the company that are challenging, entertaining and deeply provocative.
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.