Webster University’s Conservatory program, “A Reconsolidated Life: A Devised Piece” deserves a full two-week run of its own – it is just that good.
The Webster Conservatory has revived Craig Lucas’ fantastical little comedy, "Reckless", from 1983. We find Rachel, a pretty young wife and mother, experiencing an attack of euphoria on Christmas Eve. Rachel (as more than one critic has said) is something of a Candide in her irrepressibly optimistic attitude toward life. But she’s blended with a large dose of June Cleaver (for those of you old enough to remember “Leave it to Beaver”). She’s blissful in her conventional domestic role.
As a friend and I were leaving Webster University's small Stage 3 after seeing "Smokey Joe's Cafe: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller," he observed that the productions of the Webster Conservatory of Theatre Arts are a great bargain. You can see terrifically talented young people, directed by top-flight theatre folks, young people who may go on to be multiple Tony Award winners. Some have them have done so. And you can see them for less than one-tenth what you'd pay to see them later on Broadway.
Dare you dive head-first down a rabbit hole? Wonders await you if you'll only close your eyes and jump! No, no, don't close your eyes—keep them wide open lest you miss a morsel of this delightful "Alice in Wonderland" that the Webster Conservatory now offers you.
With her plays "The Clean House", "Dead Man's Cell Phone", and "In the Next Room", Sarah Ruhl has become one of my favorite playwrights. She combines a quirky sense of humor with a serious examination of life in a way that appeals to me. And she writes good theatre.
In 1937 Australian dock-workers refused to load scrap iron into ships destined for Japan because imperial “fascist” Japan was attacking China. Then-Attorney-General Robert Menzies threatened to jail any workers who refused to load this “pig iron”. Thus Menzies, earned the soubriquet “Pig-iron Bob”. He went on to lead the “Liberal” (actually conservative) party to victory and to become Australia’s longest-reigning Prime Minister. His reactionary followers were called the “pig-iron people”.
Time and again the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University mounts productions that are marvels of excellence.
All cultures have a dance like this. In French it’s called ”la ronde”, in German “der Reigen”. In English it’s a “round dance”—that graceful swirling changing of partners around a circle until at last one finds oneself saying, “Hello Again.”
I know Hot L is an old chestnut of the theatre repertoire, but frankly I never got into it. Hot L Baltimore is a story about a hotel that is going to be demolished in a month and its several interesting tenants. But that’s exactly what was wrong with it. I felt there was too much and I wasn’t hooked by the plot or story line.
Universities are generally a wonderful source of drama that you can't see anywhere else. They're undaunted by large casts or complex technical demands or even by box-office considerations. They can do a play simply because it's great. Webster Conservatory's latest offering is a fine example of this. It's The Insect Play, the 1921 masterpiece from Czechoslovakia by brothers Karel and Josef Čapek.