St. Louis Stage Capsules

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

Two-Headed Julie Jensen's drama about two Mormon women on the Utah frontier in 1857 spans 40 years in a hit-and-miss series of vignettes. Hettie (Edie Avioli) is stolid and accepting, blessed with common sense and the ability to toe the Mormon line. Her friend Lavinia (Amy Loui) is proud and obstreperous, forced to live by society's rules yet unwilling to accept them. The differences between the women drive the play's finest moments. Hettie's willingness to overlook the mercy killing of mutual friend Jane for the good of the community is played with matter-of-fact aplomb by Avioli, even as Loui imbues Lavinia with a righteous indignation that slowly reveals itself to be a monomaniacal commitment to her belief in herself as the final arbiter of all that is moral and just. All the good work is undone when the two spin in slow motion under a wash of red lights while a jarring keyboard riff plays. (Director Kimberley Hughes maintains this habit throughout the production.) Dunsi Dai's set is enhanced by Rusty Conklin's haunting redesign of the lobby. Through February 24 at the Black Cat Theatre, 2810 Sutton Boulevard, Maplewood. Tickets are $25 ($15 for students, $20 for seniors). Call 314-963-8800 or visit www.blackcattheatre.org. (PF)

Vieux Carre Reviewed in this issue.

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