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As in Broken Glass, music is important to the production. A lone drummer not only bridges the scenes but uses an incessant drumbeat to convey the characters' inner thoughts. Unlike the straightforward approach Miller takes, in which one scene follows upon the next, Medley's script is all over the place. There are no prescribed boundaries here. Actors might talk to the audience or, thanks to Regina Garcia's spare set, they might wander in and out of scenes in which they do not physically appear.

But a viewer gets something in a Miller play that's not to be found here: fully drawn characters. In this staging by Ron Himes, Medley's protagonists seem more like mouthpieces than people. There's a disconnect between dialogue and drama. Although we're assaulted by a grab bag of buzz phrases — melanin science, unified race theories, bioethics debates, eugenics movement, genetic coding — how much more informed is the viewer at the end of the play than at the beginning? And how much do you care about those who should be informing us? "In the spirit of enquiry one should listen to all sides of an argument," one character contends. But in the spirit of theater, there's got to be something more than words. It's not a good sign when the evening's most compelling action is pounded out by Arthur Moore on his drum.

Considering how little they've been given to flesh out, the cast is fine enough. Bianca LaVerne Jones registers the proper dismay over her difficult choice between mother and mentor. Although Linda Kennedy and the always persuasive J. Samuel Davis exude a sense of authority as the celebrated mother and her smooth-talking promoter-lover, one never quite believes their commitment to science. There's more of Elmer Gantry and Aimee Semple McPherson about these two than there is of Linus Pauling. Monica Parks is perhaps the most believable of all. As the scientist who asks, "Why does having a contrary opinion mean I'm being negative?" she instills her performance with a cool detachment.

Kevin Beyer and Lavonne Byers — the RFT's "Best of" actor and actress tandem in 2005 — assay Arthur Miller's Broken Glass.
LISA MANDEL
Kevin Beyer and Lavonne Byers — the RFT's "Best of" actor and actress tandem in 2005 — assay Arthur Miller's Broken Glass.

Details

Broken Glass
Through March 5. Tickets are $22-$24 ($2 discount for seniors and JCC members). Call 314-442-3283.

Relativity
Through March 5. Tickets are $17 to $40 ($10 rush seats available for students, 10 minutes before showtime). Call 314-534-3810

Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus, Creve Coeur

The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square

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Relativitytosses around a lot of questions (like: "Do you really love science?"). But it's difficult to get past the conviction that in this script "love" is just another buzzword. An equally germane question might be: "Do you really love theater?" Though both of this week's plays are flawed, there's a sense that for Cassandra Medley Relativitywas a commission; for Arthur Miller Broken Glasswas a passion. His scolding voice, however didactic it might have been, will be missed.

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