St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene

The Lieutenant of Inishmore Set on one of the remote Aran Islands off of Ireland's west coast, Martin McDonagh's macabre comedy concerns Padraic (David Whalen, in an impressively calibrated performance), a psychopathic terrorist so uncontrollable that he must be eliminated. The best way to get to Padraic is by killing his cat. If these doings sound like grim stuff, you'd be way wrong. True, in this allegory about the violence that has consumed Ireland, we are pummeled by the unexpected. But in an evening of giddy theatricality, ultimately we are not so much shocked by the excessive goings-on as we are startled by the realization of how hilarious it all is. You'll be hard-pressed to find a more exhilarating romp than this dazzlingly executed exercise in mayhem. Performed by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' Off-Ramp through October 12 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $16 to $50. Call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstl.org. (DB)

Regrets Only Here are two plays for the price of one, or at least two styles. Act One is a conventional comedy of manners set among the rich and famous on Manhattan. But Act Two ventures into the realm of the surreal as playwright Paul Rudnick tries to imagine a world without gay people. There are laughs aplenty, and if the overall effect is not so polemical as Rudnick might have hoped for, at least the zestful evening gives Lavonne Byers the opportunity to add yet another notch to her gun belt of precise performances. Performed by Stray Dog Theatre through September 27 at the Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee Avenue. Tickets are $20 ($18 for students and seniors). Call 314-865-1995 or visit www.straydogtheatre.org. (DB)

John Lamb
John Lamb

Scorched Harrowing and beautiful, exhausting and uplifting, Wadji Mouawad's Scorched is transcendent theater. Nawal (played by Magan Wiles, Michelle Hand and Nancy Lewis) asks her twin children Simon (Joel Lewis) and Janine (Brooke Edwards) to return to the war-ravaged country of her birth and deliver a letter each to their unknown father and their unknown older brother. This begins a frightening descent into the darkest corners of their mother's life, and an unflinching picture of what happens to women when men go to war. Thoroughly excellent performances from every cast member raise this intelligent and rewarding play to great heights, and the view from the final peak is bleak — yet beautiful all the same. Presented by the Orange Girls through September 28 at COCA, 524 Trinity Avenue, University City. Tickets are $20 ($18 for students and seniors). Call 314-520-9557 or visit www.orangegirls.org. (PF)

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