Some of the pieces play more like extended skits. In the funny "A Confederacy of Monsters," written by Adam Jortner and directed by Neiman, which opens the evening, a board meeting of the titular group has been called by the Bogeyman (Ken Ferrigni) because of the public's diminishing belief in the existence of monsters. With terrorism and AIDS around, things that go bump in the night are the least of people's worries. Kenneth Pruitt makes a hilarious ghost (the kind with the sheet with two eyeholes), Mariah Howard plays a witch devoted to the cause and Jason Cannon is a vampire who has gone Hollywood. "Monsters" makes a nice bookend with the evening's closer, "Lycanthrophobia," by Matt Pelfrey, a disturbing piece about a man in a bar (Bell) who meets a stranger (Neiman), who may or may not be a werewolf. A plot twist cements the evening's theme of how what's underneath ties us all together and is more important than apparent differences.
"Tape," written by José Rivera and directed by Tijuana Ricks, is a Twilight Zone-ish piece about a man (Cannon) forced to listen to his own lies for the rest of eternity. In "Anything for You," written by Cathy Celesia, what lurks inside Lynette (Ricks) is the desire to have a lesbian affair with her best friend, Gail (a fine Wendy Bagger).
J. Bruce Summers
Alison Bevan and Thom Sesma in the Rep's top-notch production of Dinner with Friends
Performed by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through April 14. Call 314-968-4925.
Studio Theatre of the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Rd.
Produced on a shoestring, the evening's tech aspects are minimal, but that's the point; the focus is on the plays and the actors, a fine group of young talent, some familiar to St. Louis audiences, some brand-new. (M)HT will present two plays this summer at the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre in Washington University's Mallinckrodt Center; they deserve the attention of St. Louis audiences.