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.
St. Louis Actors' Studio continues their season of "The Best Medicine," laughter, with dry humor that is at times cruel, at times sarcastic, and always delivered with a hint of exaggeration. At its center, "Art," by Yasmina Reza, is a play with a big heart. There are simply a lot of layers of posturing and pretension to pull back before that heart is discovered.
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.
Actors' Studio's production of "Blithe Spirit", directed by Bobby Miller, has many good moments and much promise but on opening night did not seem quite ready for the public.
St. Louis Actors' Studio once again features the talents of emerging and established playwrights with the second "LaBute Festival of New Plays," a month long presentation of short plays presented in two parts. Teeming with subtext and slow revelations, part one features a fascinating mix of complex characters and intriguing situations.
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.
Fans of playwright Arthur Miller are lucky to have several productions currently on St. Louis stages. St. Louis Actors' Studio stands out with "The Ride Down Mount Morgan." The tightly wound, well acted production envelopes the audience in the small theater, delivering a memorable version of a beautifully crafted drama.
In today's conflicted politically correct culture, the idea of evolution as necessary to the survival of a species is more fodder for disagreement than measured study. When applied to a family filled with secrets, however, the question gains a certain tragic purpose, fraught with remorse and filled with pain. The St. Louis Actors' Studio digs deep and finds no clear answers in Nicky Silver's bitingly funny, yet poignantly tragic "Pterodactyls."
That a man named Lincoln would portray President Lincoln in an arcade role playing game is an interesting twist; that the same man would have a brother intentionally named Booth is a recipe for an unhappy ending. It is on this premise that "Top Dog / Underdog" revolves, ever so quietly, and the story unravels, ever so painfully.
The St. Louis Actors' Studio certainly doesn't lack ambition, as evidenced by the decision to devote a full month to a slate of new, unproven works. The first part of the festival set the tone with assertive, contemporary shows that bristled with tension and energy. The company's production of the second series of new short plays fully demonstrates that commitment to previously untested material and ideas as well as emerging playwrights.