St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene.

Bad DatesA one-woman show about a shallow, materialistic restaurateur in search of the perfect man, Theresa Rebeck's Bad Dates attempts to create a one-of-a-kind meal from a frozen TV dinner. Chatter about shoes and clothes gives way to stock relationship jokes, which improbably lead to simple "insights" about leading a meaningful life. Uh-huh. Annie Fitzpatrick makes the most of the weak material the show provides her, giving Haley Walker some charm despite the charmless nature of Bad Dates' setup. The whole experience is not unlike watching a mediocre stand-up comedian — until the play veers into its unexpected pseudo-thriller-cum-morality play in the final twenty minutes. Then it's like watching any Robin Williams movie, only without the hirsute mania. Presented by the Off-Ramp Series of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through November 4 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $18 to $45 (rush seats available for students and seniors, $8 and $10, respectively, 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstl.org.

Paul Friswold The Clean House Reviewed in this issue.

The Curious SavageSomewhere in the slow-moving first act of Clayton Community Theatre's production of John Patrick's The Curious Savage, wealthy and widowed would-be actress Ethel Savage (Jeanne Seibel) recounts the Wall Street Journal's review of her one speaking role: "She has a tenacious mediocrity unhampered by taste." Tenacious mediocrity sums up the whole of The Curious Savage. No one actor is truly bad, but after more than two hours of this, concepts of good and bad are moot. Mrs. Savage is confined to an institution by her greedy stepchildren because of her unusual behavior. She has squirreled away the family millions, and the search for the money takes up the rest of your life. Seibel plays Savage with a steady keel — there's nothing remarkable about her. Some laughs should come from the other patients, but they don't; the jokes are in the script, but nothing in Joseph Wegescheide's lackluster direction or the cast's yeoman-like performances bring them to life. Only Tawaine Noah, as the fragile pianist Jeffrey, brings a quiet and dignified humanity to his character. Sadly, he's underused. Through November 11 at the Concordia Seminary Theatre (6501 Clayton Road; 314-721-9228 or www. placeseveryone.org).

(PF) A Delicate Balance For its debut offering, St. Louis Actors' Studio boldly stages one of Edward Albee's most ambitious and scarifying plays. An inexplicable terror forces a long-married couple out of their house. When they seek refuge in the home of their best friends, whose abode is already crippled by its own domestic disharmony, problems arise. In addition to probing the boundaries of friendship, this elegantly written drama asks: How would you respond in time of crisis? As an icy matriarch, Lavonne Byers captures the "dark silence" that permeates this much underrated yet important American play. Through November 4 at the Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle Avenue. Tickets are $20 ($15 for students and seniors). Call 314-458-2978 or visit www.stlas.org.

Dennis Brown Dracula Everything about this revival of the play that launched Bela Lugosi's career in America is faithfully rendered: the costumes, the stage design, the acting, even the sound design. Yet barely ten minutes after the play opens with a spectacular pantomime set against the lightning-slashed grand windows of Dr. Seward's sanitarium...comes the first big laugh of the night. This is a problem of material, not presentation. And fortunately, it abates late in Act Two, then disappears in a fine third act that culminates in a spectacular confrontation that could only have been bettered had the audience been scared out its skin for the preceding 90 minutes. Through November 4 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $16 to $63 (rush seats available for students and seniors, $8 and $10, respectively, 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstl.org.

(PF)

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change This sketch-y evening that chronicles, spoofs and sometimes even satirizes mating rituals from the first date to the final farewell is winding down its four-month run. The six-member ensemble cavorts through a breezy evening of rambunctious and sometimes ribald skits that allow everyone a chance to shine. The sheer act of watching so many people have so much fun — both onstage and in the audience — makes for a high time. Through November 11 at the Playhouse at Westport Plaza, 635 Westport Plaza (second level), Page Avenue and I-270, Maryland Heights. Tickets are $41 to $46. Call 314-469-7529. (DB)

Return of the Bedbug Reviewed in this issue.

 
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