Not everyone enjoys a monologue-based show, but I find that when done well, monologues offer an actor a chance to really develop character and story. The St. Louis Actors’ Studio production of Alan Bennett's “Talking Heads,” a selection of three monologues from the series of the same name originally airing on the BBC, takes a straightforward approach to its presentation that largely works.
Samuel Becket's "Waiting for Godot" is considered one of the masterpieces of modern theater and yet it is performed rarely. St. Louis Actor's Studio's production, directed by Bobby Miller, has some good moments but does not, in the end, reveal to the audience why this piece of work is considered so great.
Carrot, the titular canine in Daniel Damiano's "Day of the Dog," the world premiere of which is being presented by St. Louis Actors' Studio, is a German Shepherd mix and the family pet of accountant Paul and interior designer Julianne. He never appears on stage, but his presence--and his problem--are obvious as soon as the lights go up and Paul enters with heavily bandaged arms and hands.
Killer Joe is a sordid, sick tale of violence, depravity, greed, drugs, nudity and sex all set in a Texas trailer park, peopled by the disturbingly dysfunctional Smith family and their hired gun – a cop by day, a hit man by night - Killer Joe.
Christmas in the tropics provides the St. Louis Actors' Studio with a charming alternative to the usual snowy cheer. But this is not just any tropical setting. It's the penal colony in French Guiana, and the date is 1910.
From the comments made by playwright Joanna McClelland Glass before the opening night performance of Palmer Park, I take it that her play pretty much reconstructs what happened in the Detroit neighborhood of the title in the late 1960s and early '70s, when she and her family lived there.
I guess it's human nature to be fascinated by the nastiness in human nature. Playwright Neil LaBute certainly appears to be fascinated by the nastiness in human nature, which is probably one reason we are fascinated by his plays. It also helps that he's a very good writer.
There's something just very simple, and pure, and satisfying about good theatre. A good script, in the hands of capable actors, and with competent technical support, is more rare than one might think. But not so rare that you can't see it now in St. Louis Actors' Studio's current production of Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys. Being presented at the intimate Gaslight Theatre in midtown St. Louis, this production is just good theatre. Not perfect theatre, but VERY GOOD theatre.
In November, playwright David Mamet has written a farce about American politics. Mamet always puts comic moments in his plays, but those plays usually stay within hailing distance of recognizable reality. November certainly presents recognizable elements of the American processes of government. But they're stretched beyond the boundaries of familiar reality, though not, as always in good farce, beyond the bounds of credibility within their own crazed world.